Easter, otherwise known as the Superbowl of Church.
….and let me first say I’m sorry…
Easter is the holy grail of the Church. It’s all hands on deck. The red carpet is rolled out to make sure the Church puts it’s best foot forward. There’s a thousand blanks to fill in. Set list, opener script, video content, environments, communion supplies, how many programs to print, service programming, and the list goes on and on. On top of all the usual routine of the weekend, there’s usually 50 more services. That means more logistics and more volunteers to nail down. Like parking. Lord have mercy. Let’s all just breathe.
I’ve spent so many Easter weekends feeling so disconnected from Jesus. The Cross. The Resurrection. The hope that this all brings. There’s a very real tendency when you’re job is to prepare the table, to forget to sit down and eat for yourself. We get stuck in computer screens, production booths, or the endless meetings. Before we know it, Easter has passed and we’ve missed our opportunity to join the party. This Easter can be different.
So let me say, this isn’t an article about how to pull off better Easter experiences, but rather a guide to surviving Easter and still love Jesus and the Church. So…if you serve on a church staff or in a volunteer position, this one’s for you.
OWN YOUR EASTER
If you’re stuck in a production booth, on a stage, or behind the scenes somewhere, plan your own Easter celebration. This could be as simple as ordering food and putting it in a gathering space for all of those serving and create a relaxed and atmosphere where everyone can enjoy each other before or “between” services. Also, consider inviting friends over after services, getting the family together. Order some good food. Hang out together. Invite God into the middle of that gathering. Sing a few songs. Decorate. Open the scripture together. Pray for each other. Maybe your entire team/staff could do this together. If you’re a parent, create a moment with your kids that celebrates Jesus.
LEAN INTO THE UNCOMFORTABLE
What is it about Easter that you hate? For me, I want to barf when I think about adding extra services for people that come to a service twice a year. The truth is, those people are exactly who Easter is for. They have pain, job issues, failures, financial burdens. They may have not shown up the other 50 Sundays of the year, but they will on Easter. It’s our golden opportunity to lean in and love them where they are. You never know what fruit will come from Easter weekend. Maybe for you, you hate the pressure of Easter, or the extra creative elements, or the logistical challenges. Whatever it is, lean into it. Be curious about why it bothers you. Pray about it. Maybe God wants to flip the way we see Easter.
There’s such a temptation at Easter to be someone we’re not. One year our Easter service was themed “Happy.” We had a confetti cannon, a choir, and a 1,000 pinwheels that we stuck all over our campus. The next week, the pin wheels were gone, the choir was gone, and it was back to our regularly scheduled program. None of those things are bad. I think God is so proud the person who created a confetti cannon. If that’s your normal service environment…do more of that. If your place creates world class works of theater or incredible light shows, keep doing that. Do more of it. Be you. But don’t be somebody you’re not. The world is weary of the bait and switch. Those second time guests will have an easier time connecting, when they come back to a familiar place.
DON’T FORGET TO PREPARE YOUR HEART
I once heard it said “be careful that the work of God doesn’t destroy the work of God within You.” The enemies goal is to have you busy doing God’s work that you miss the work God wants to do in you. Save a seat for yourself at the table this Easter. Start an Easter Bible reading plan in the youversion app. Take a day off and get alone with your Creator. Don’t fall into the trap that Easter is up to you. Something could happen to you tomorrow, and I promise that Easter services will go on without you.
This Easter can be different. Maybe you hate Easter, maybe you don’t.
Don’t let this Easter pass without engaging your heart into the celebration.
Thanks for the article Adam. I think I fundamentally agree with your article…I think. I love the challenge to do something for yourself at Easter. That’s helpful encouragement. However, several things are confusing to me. 1. While I wholeheartedly agree it’s vital not to lose sight of what Easter is, isn’t it the job of ministers and preist to serve people? How do you do that practically without giving it your all on days like Easter. 2. You referenced some particular things your church did and called them bait and switch. Your article title did the exact same thing. You don’t hate Easter! You hate how some churches do Easter. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of the same Jesus your title said you love. The bait is an enticing title and the switch is you encouraged people to celebrate what you said you hate. Confusing and a bit hypocritical. 3. What’s wrong with truly “celebrating” Easter. I’m guessing you go to parties at restaurants or people’s home and you don’t expect that every time you come back it’s going to be a party. No. There is something special…a celebration. Isn’t that what we are doing? Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus? Why can’t that be a party at a church on that week without it being bait and switch? It’s a party! While I can’t agree more that you should “do you” every weekend at church, there are special occasions and I just think people are smart enough to get it. I’d trust them.
Your article is like so many from organizations You mean well and it’s an article chalked full of truth (and don’t get me wrong, so much truth) but written with cynicism about today’s church from someone not in the throws of full time church ministry or someone who wants to affect and direct the church without actually being boots on the ground.
Look, I’m just one guy with too many opinions I’m sure. However, for me I say “party on” church….Jesus is alive and let’s be honest, most churches are not good at being happy or fun because we take everything way too seriously. So a party once or twice a year for most of us helps keep us energized and healthy. “Happy” Easter (I’m gonna use that one year)
I love the discussion. Thanks for sharing. “I think I fundamentally agree with your article…I think.” Ha Ha. I feel the same way. I’ve recently come out of a season of 10+ years in full time ministry. This will be my first Easter in a long time that I get to serve off of the stage, and sit with my family in an Easter service. I’m looking forward to it, but I also have a huge heart and empathy for my friends who are on staff or volunteer positions. I’ll try my best to respond to your thoughts.
– I’m not sure I totally understand your first question about giving it your all. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on that one. In my humble opinion, there is never a reason to not give it your all. Looking back on my recent season in full time ministry, I struggled at times with how I “owned” ministry. I recently heard my pastor say…”God has called us to work with Him, not for Him.” I’m still unpacking that one. I can totally see how at times in ministry, I have been so busy creating/leading for God that I missed out on the peace, joy, and freedom that comes from doing ministry with God. How do I practically make that shift? I’m still discovering that. Counseling has helped me learn that it all doesn’t depend on Adam. God doesn’t actually need my help, He wants my help. When/If I find myself in positional ministry, I hope to depend on God more, pray more, take more breaks, let others have the winning idea, and carry it all with an open hand rather than a closed fist.
– One thing for sure, I am a total hypocrite. The title of this article actually came out of my mouth at a work staff meeting. This will be my first year not on a church staff during Easter. Someone asked me how I feel about that and I said…”I am excited to sit with my family, serve, and not have to lead this Easter.” Then I said, “I love Jesus, but I hate Easter.” It was not a title I dreamed up to get more clicks. I was curious why I feel that way, and that’s where the article came from. I did have the pleasure of serving at a wonderful church in the Austin, TX. I don’t hate how we did Easter. I don’t hate the Church for sure. What I hate is the personal sacrifice that Easter brings for staff and volunteers for people who come to church twice a year.. (I know Jesus died on the Cross so I have no reason to complain) I don’t hate those Easter-only attendees. How could I ever judge them? I think the church I was a part of, was doing the best we knew how. We learned a few things about Easter in my time there. That’s what I love about life, we make mistakes, we learn from them, and then we get to help others. My encouragement to Church leadership, is to be genuine when it comes to Easter. Give attendees a realistic dose of your weekly gathering. I don’t hate how any church does Easter. I love the diversity of it all. I think God does too. I am totally sorry if this article is bait and switch. That is not the intention.
– Ok…now you are speaking my language. In my humble opinion, I would love to see the Church get more in touch with it’s “party side.” We ought to lose our minds, raise the roof, and set the church on fire with praise when it comes to Easter. If Jesus really did rise from that grave, then hold my sweet tea, it’s time to let loose. I think every gathering should have moments filled with PRAISE. The unruly kind. 🙂 Every gathering should be a celebration of the finished work of Christ. That probably looks different for each local body. I think what I was speaking against is the temptation I’ve felt in ministry to be “entertaining” on Easter. The temptation to be “flawless.” The pressure to be more creative on Easter than any other Sunday of the year. I think the conversation on this is great. Also, the tension of it all produces better services. The most attractional thing we can do on Easter is lift God up, and be authentic to our guests. For some that is an environment full of production and highly crafted moments. For some that is a more liturgical approach. For others is somewhere in the middle of all of that.
– I did my best to write this article from a place of empathy for Church staff and less of a place of cynicism towards the church. I wrote it from the feelings and reality that I experienced from the throws of full time ministry, for over 10 years. It’s just my humble, little opinion, from a guy that loves the local Church deeply, and is so proud of the staff and volunteers who serve tirelessly. I’m trying to keep my boots on the ground by serving regularly in the kids department at my local Church. I think you made some great points in this article. I love the discussion, and I have no problem being wrong about something. It’s unavoidable. I just want to see people who are in the throws of ministry, experience Easter for themselves this year. God will never forget the work we do with Him.
I’m sorry that was unclear. What I meant was I felt your article was suggesting that we sort of do what we always do every week but just this week it’s Easter. While in theory I agree with that thought, in practice churches are notorious for just getting by. “Do what you always do” is terrible advice if you are not working to be your best or if you aren’t attracting unbelievers to your church because the services aren’t done well or you are just answering questions only the religious are interested in, maybe. Perfection isn’t what I’m talking about but doing more of what we always do can be a lame excuse to do ministry half way to your potential. You said it’s the Super Bowl of churches. Ok, good analogy. What if we gave your advice to the Patriots last January in the Super Bowl? It would have been a disaster to come in doing what we always do. Yes, if we are a defensive team then lets play great defense. If Tom Brady is our qb then by all means let’s highlight the passing game. But I don’t think for a minute that Coach Bill is not going to come in with his team unprepared to go to the next level. You are in the Super Bowl to win it gosh dernit. You are in front of a team you probably haven’t faced. There is too much on the line to come in and just do what you do with no razzle dazzle (how about that for a church term). Easter cost you. Easter takes effort. Easter takes time to be ready for added services and more people. Easter takes sacrifice. How can we come into our one opportunity to speak to those who come one time a year (no matter why that is or what the reason is they came) and speak to them about the very thing that makes a difference in people’s lives and eternity, the resurrection of Jesus! I say give it all you got and then some. It’s Easter.
Hopefully that explains better what I was struggling with in your article.
(this post in no way condones, adheres to, or agrees with the New England Patriots. All references are for example and emphasis only. All loyalties lie with another team who failed to make the big dance yet again and maybe with a little help from the officiating crew)
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