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This past week at Captivate we made a big deal about the resurrection of Christ.  We sang about it, our videos pointed to it and I preached my heart out over it.  If you were to visit Captivate Church next weekend you are going to see the same type of thing and the week after that… again.  We are resurrection on repeat.  It doesn’t matter if the sermon is about dating, finances or the Cuban Missile Crisis, we will always end up at Jesus.  Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection and second coming is the meta-narrative that every other topic will surrender to so long as the Lord gives me the honor to serve His Church.

If someone walks away from Captivate and is able to say “I didn’t hear the Gospel”, we will need to fold up shop.

This brings me to Easter Sunday.  

My Facebook and Twitter feed exploded with preparation for Easter.  There was so much hype about Easter you would have thought as Tony Morgan suggested, Christians consider Easter the Super Bowl.

For the NFL, the Super Bowl is the end event…. the grand finale… the big game.  Easter IS a big deal but it’s not the end of our faith.  As I preached this Easter: “It is finished, but it is not over.”

Last week (conveniently leading up to Easter and Passover) I read an article in USA Today about people the writer dubbed ‘Reverts’.  Reverts are people who, as adults, ‘reverted’ to the faith of their childhood.  Based on the prominent photo, some interviews with reverts and the efforts of various religious groups described in the piece, you could have read the article and come to the conclusion that reaching out to those who walked away from their faith was a normal, healthy and extremely fruitful venture.  Buried however in the middle of the article was this truth.

… just 9% of U.S. adults say they’ve returned to the pews, practices and prayers that shaped them.

The gospel should be presented to all (including potential reverts) but my concern is with the disproportionate effort given to one week of the year that makes so little statistical difference in our overall mission.  We are called to make disciples.  If every year Easter translated into more disciples of Jesus, I’d be all for it but more often than not we are catering to inoculated people who simply are not impressed with our over-the-top effort and antics.

So here are a few of my honest questions:  What if our Easter energy and effort was displayed every Sunday?  What if the money spent on this Super Bowl day was spread out toward making better systems year-round?  What if there was a greater strategy and Easter (even a huge one) was considered just one link the chain of your annual calendar year?  For many great churches, this is exactly their approach.  They don’t let off of the pedal.  They have built a consistent pattern and culture of evangelism, outreach and discipleship.

So what do I advocate with regard to Easter?

Consider Easter a leverage point, not an ending point.

I can hear people now:  “That’s what we do.”  Probably not.

Southern Comfort:

Most of my Pastor friends who are on Twitter and Facebook reside in the South and Southeast.  It is what it is.  Look at any map that outlines religious preference you will easily see where the bulk of active and practicing Christians reside… in the south.  So Easter tends to be a time of year when those who haven’t been in church all year suddenly decide to show up.  Why?  It’s built in.  Like clockwork they return.  Like clockwork we scramble to put on our best show and like clockwork they leave content but not convicted or convinced.  So why do they show up?  Your amazing mailers?  Your choir?  Your wonderful lights?  No, it’s Easter.  They’re there due to guilt, family association and, in the south, community-wide pressure.  The question isn’t so much “Do you go to church on Easter Sunday?” as it is “WHERE do you go to church on Easter Sunday?”

So what do church leaders do?  We lie to ourselves.  Year after year we dump tons of money to draw the same exact people back through the doors who came last year.  Traditional churches pack the choir loft tighter than a fishing vessel on Deadliest Catch.  Modern churches pull out all of the lasers and lights and rent new equipment to look like the latest Jay Z tour.  Stage designs are nicer, colors are brighter and the carpet gets an extra shampoo.  We only put the best musicians on stage that week and we think of every creative element possible to cram into an hour long service.

Pastors then take to social media to talk about all that God did and usually what they tweet is the attendance.  Additionally, all  week church employees make sure to remind the rest of the world that “This is the hardest we will work all year long!”  It’s strange.

The week before Christmas I don’t see my Twitter feed blow up with employees of Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target talking about how many hours they are putting in ‘because it’s Christmas’.  They just do their job.

So why do Christian Pastors spend so much time highlighting this one week?  Because more people will show up.  It’s a bigger crowd to preach to and it’s a highlight.

Do you know what would be a highlight?  If a month from now you still have people who came on Easter.    If in 2-3 weeks you are baptizing somebody.   If in 6 months you have a story of a friend leading a friend to Christ because they learned to share the gospel in your church.  That would be a highlight!  But Easter was a big attendance day and for me, I’m simply no longer impressed.  

There are exceptions to my frustration.  The exceptions to me are churches that are growing year-round.  The exceptions are churches that leverage Easter to do something new like launch a new church location.  That’s leveraging Easter for something that will last.  



By now if you’re still reading you will likely think I hate preparing for Easter.  You may presume I would advocate not putting our best foot forward.  You may have the impression that I don’t care if more people come.   None of those things are true.  

What is true however is that I wish more Pastors held a more consistent and more altruistic motive for the work they put in for Easter.  Let me also say, many do.  In our nation however, the statistics do not lie.

Every year we have an influx of people.  These people saw your show last year.  They heard the great band, they saw the wonderful choir… you put on your greatest performance but you know what?  You’re not Cirque Du Soleil.  I’ve seen their show and I wasn’t converted to anything (although their show in Baltimore worked hard to make me convert to Darwinism).

“But Tally, calm down, you’re being too hard on it.  Wouldn’t Jesus be happy with a large crowd?”  It depends.  He fed a large crowd in a pretty miraculous way but they kept coming back for the wrong reason and he had to tell them a straight-forward truth that many didn’t want to hear:

 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. John 6:26

Drop down a few verses and we see this:

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.