Yes, many extra, larger services, sometimes held in offsite locations to accommodate the holiday crowds were held, but my question is: did the people attending your church come away knowing that Jesus rose from the dead and that without that gift, there is no hope? Or did they hear/see something else, like:
- This church is cool. I guess church doesn't have to be boring.
- This is where all the mover and shakers from our community show up.
- Wow, there are lots of people here, so it must be an OK church.
- Great video/graphic/special effects.
- The band rocked.
- I feel good about myself.
- Free Starbucks/food at church? Cool.
- I didn't realize I could go to church without it really interfering with the rest of my life. I think I'll go here.
If the message was any of the bulleted items above, you lost an opportunity to reach people in a way that will impact their lives for the kingdom. In some cases, that could mean the difference between whether a person will spend eternity in heaven or hell.
I also cringe at how many really bad singers and actors performed (and believe me, there are a lot of them). If you presented some sort of drama or musical numbers and the people who planned them, wrote and performed them have not received any professional training for how to do that or how to effectively use these skills to reach the unchurched, you probably fall into this category. Really.
My motivation in bringing this up is a growing concern every post-Easter season when I hear Christians and pastors sharing excitement over the Sunday services. They post pictures or videos that show amateur presentations, while they share how great everything was and how close to Broadway it all seemed. My thought is that they don't see a lot of Broadway; a non-Christian thinks "what a bunch of deluded people."
- The band rocked.
- So exciting to see so many in attendance.
- Added drama this year because everyone else seems to have success with it.
It doesn't really matter how great the band sounded, how glitzy your presentation was, how many thousands of people attended or what new things the church did if no one attending got the meaning of Easter. In this week's post-Easter meetings when you evaluate how things went and start the planbook for next year, keep this question and the worship of Jesus central.
- I want to be able to compete with the attendance numbers other pastors report at conferences.
- We need money.
- "So and so" always has done it and will be angry if we don't let her.
- We want to be the most popular church in the area.
- We don't want to offend anyone.
- We want to attract younger people.
- Didn't think it mattered whether anything was done professionally because we're just a church.
Next, ask "how?" Your answer should be "with excellence." Train your people. Invest in them and in your church's ability to minister by sending them to conferences or bringing professionals in for workshops so they can write sketches and songs and perform them well. People who only attend church on major holidays spend the rest of the year listening to and watching PROFESSIONAL musicians and actors.
Without training, your artists look incredibly amateur. It's hard, but that's the truth. While people are gripping their seats cringing when a singer gets just under a note, or misses it all together, or while they are stifling laughter at a badly executed sketch, or thinking how much they like rock music, their minds are occupied with thoughts that have nothing to do with worshiping God.