By Mark A. Taylor
At our annual contributing editor January retreat, someone asked, “Why do churches always make such a big thing of Christmas?”
Maybe we’re giving in to the culture on this. For many people, Christmas preparations begin in the summer, and we see Christmas everywhere by the end of October. Christmas concerts, Christmas parties, Christmas gift-buying—they fill the month of December. Indeed, sometimes by Christmas Day, we’re too tired to celebrate.
Churches follow suit with sermon series, children’s programs, live nativity scenes, cookie exchanges, and special get-togethers. In some places Christmas Eve services rival Easter for setting attendance records. Even in a secular America, many want to include baby Jesus in their Christmas celebration, and churches are glad to turn this into an outreach opportunity.
But when our correspondent asked a dozen church leaders to tell us what they do special for Easter, several said, “Not much, really.”
Thankfully we found others with a different response. Taking their cue not only from church history, but most especially from the core of the gospel, they’ve made a big deal of Easter.
Maybe we don’t do more with this holiday because the culture doesn’t demand it. With our eye on seekers, we’ve learned that many of them will show up on Easter Sunday without much extra effort from us. If our primary aim is reaching the lost, we don’t need a month or even a week of special Easter services to do that.
But notice how most of the Easter ideas featured this month strengthen the Christian’s connections with God. These churches have decided that developing and deepening believers is as important as reaching not-yet-Christians.
And one more thing—most of their ideas don’t center around music. Worshippers did more than listen or sing; they touched, tasted, smelled, walked, wrote.
Maybe some churches don’t go all-out for Easter because, after all, Christians celebrate the resurrection every Sunday. Fair enough. But we can use the genius in several of these Easter ideas to enrich worship and increase impact anytime. I can’t help but think experiences like many described in this issue belong in church calendars every month—even Christmas!