[Photo by mrMark]
Okay, so I stooped to the “provocative post title” shenanigans, but it popped into my head and I couldn’t resist . . . sorry. But as our prez is known to say, “Let me be clear . . .” I am not talking about literally being naked on Easter.
What I am talking about is our need to put on the big production on Easter Sunday. Now before the cantata, drama and passion play mafia come after me, I do understand that this is THE special time in the life of the Christian church and I know that there is a natural inclination to do it up big time in celebration of the Resurrection. I get it, I do.
What if our Easter Sunday was just like every other Sunday. Sure we can have some special things: meals, egg hunt, lillies even, but why not have the service structured and feel like it would on most Sunday’s?
And here is why I think this is a good idea.
First . . . Every Sunday should be Resurrection Sunday. When folks come to church on Easter, if it is a compelling service, I want them to know that this is how we roll every Sunday. The risen Christ, God and the Spirit are always what grounds and moves our worship experience. Sure, Easter is special because of the focus and meaning, but the style and structure, if you like it . . . come on back. It is too easy for folks to say, “We really liked the service” and then somewhere in the back of their mind be thinking, “Well, it’s Easter so of course it’s going to be special.” How awesome would it be to then be able to respond, “Thanks . . . this is pretty much what we do every Sunday.” A seed for future connections may indeed be planted.
Second, I beleive that how we expend energy communicates so much to those who are visiting. If we put a ton of time and energy into something that even smells like it is being done in any way to glorify those who are part of the church, then I think we send a dangerous message. Nurturing our children through games and silliness, gathering around a meal, offering meaningful and compelling worship, YES, but full-out productions that appear to be an attempt to impress, NO.
In the end, I think this is a question of congregational self-esteem. Do you feel like your regular service is compelling enough to move the spirit of those who attend at on any given Sunday? If not, then your “regular” service needs “re-tuning.” Gone are the days when people are willing to bear with the service and rightly so. We should all set and strive to meet high exceptions for our worship experiences. And by expectations I do not mean “perfection” and “proficiency” but worship that truly reflects the context and reality of the community gathered. In a way, naked, stripped of all the “stuff” we think will draw people. Because when it comes right down to it, the most effective form of evangelism is to be the church we claim to be: a gathered group of misfits, forgiven through Christ and grateful to God.
In other words: an Easter people, today, tomorrow and always.