Monday, April 02, 2007

For Sale: Easter

For the industrialized church, Easter is the greatest marketing opportunity since Christmas. Re-enactments of Christ’s Passion, Seder for Gentiles, Tenebrae, Taize, Cantata’s…all are employed to fill the pews and to reinvigorate the faithful. Each year we have been conditioned to expect something just a little more spectacular or a little more “spiritual” to satisfy the vague discontent we have with the product offered each week at our local house of worship. Why?

Is it because we are so used to media hype in every other area of life that we have come to expect it in our spiritual lives, too?

It is a great temptation for church leaders to follow the world’s example and to use Easter (and Christmas, for that matter) as a sales pitch…a public relations opportunity to get their name out before the public at a time when it is politically acceptable to do so. We’ve all gotten the catalogs offering Easter press kits and door hangers and bulletin covers and posters and DVD’s and… We are a nation of consumers, so I guess we expect people to respond to advertising, but I don’t see that as a Biblical principle in evangelism. There is more to making disciples than persuading people to wear team t-shirts or lighting candles or walking a labyrinth once a year or packing a pew.

Perhaps a more pervasive problem to that vague spiritual discontent felt by so many believers is that we are also a nation of spectators. There are far more people in the stands at a football game than there are on the field. From a spiritual standpoint, there are far more spectators in the congregation than there are vibrant players in the field—and I don’t mean the worship team or the Sunday School teachers or the pastor. We all have the option of becoming spiritual spectators instead of participants in the Body of Christ. And spectators become bored and dissatisfied when the team isn’t winning.

So, every year it becomes a greater challenge to motivate people to appreciate the Ultimate Sacrifice. Where does the answer lie? Should we quit celebrating the Resurrection as a one-time event, and begin looking at it as a present reality?
What do you think?

Check out bob.blog's The Dangers of Easter”
http://bobhyatt.typepad.com/bobblog/2007/03/the_dangers_of_.html
and Greg Laughery’s Living Spirituality at

8 comments:

Alan Knox said...

You asked: "Should we quit celebrating the Resurrection as a one-time event, and begin looking at it as a present reality?" Could you imagine how things would change if believers actually lived as if Jesus was risen and with them always?

I've had several conversations this week about how many times we live as if God did not exist and was not with us, though we proclaim that he is alive and present.

-Alan

Elder's Wife said...

Alan-
If we actually lived the truth we proclaim, I guess we would be living out I Thess. 5:5-24...especially that verse that says to "Squelch not the Spirit."
Kat

Greg said...

Kat
Excellent thoughts. Definitely, present reality of daily life. Let's subvert the hype and spin of the Easter market and get back to the true meaning and significance of the Easter event.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Allow me to vent a little, which is not necessarily aimed at you, but is aimed at the Easter "Handwringers."

I am a *former* Calvinist. My former Calvinist Pastor loved to BASH Mel Gibson and the "Passion" movie. Mel Gibson is "going to Hell," he would SHOUT from the pulpit, as if he was God Himself, making this spectacular declaration.

However, the Passion movie gave me a unique opportunity to share Christ with my lost Jewish friends, and the movie got them talking about Christ, and that movie gave me an opportunity to share Christ. So God bless it!

Easter is marketed and commercialized, and sometimes Churches are seen as "corporations" with Christians seen as "consumers," but this past Sunday, two *lost* friends of mine, whom I, and some other friends of mine, had been praying for, both visited our church, and BOTH prayed to receive Christ. Therefore, God bless the corporations. God bless the consumersism. God bless Easter, which gave me an opportunity to reach the unreachable, so that they could hear the Gospel message.

We are to be as gentle as doves and as wise as serpents.

Elder's Wife said...

ex cal-
Hope you don't mind being called that, but your "handle" is pretty long. Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation.
I don't feel "vented on" :) and I do realize that enactments (I wasn't referring to the movie), Seder's, etc. can be tools used to whet the interest or visualize spiritual truth. We all rejoice when the Lord uses these means to truly bring people to Himself. Repentance and salvation aren't the problem...they are the goal.
My point is that the church should not use Easter or Christmas as a marketing tool to promote themselves and their own growth or as eye and ear candy for the complacent in the pews. Those of us who already know the Lord are too often satisfied with the status quo instead of desiring spiritual meat so that we can grow and live lives that show Christ to those around us. The drama should be there, and not just on the stage at church.
Otherwise, we are just spectators. Instead, we need to live resurrected lives as every day worshippers.
Your statement: "We are to be as gentle as doves and as wise as serpents" was good.
There are many tools available for us to use in reaching the lost, and we need wisdom to choose the appropriate ones.
Will you have the opportunity to disciple your friends, now that they are believers?
Kat

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Yep! Praise God, they are coming to church tomorrow evening.

I belong to a really strong men's group within my church, one that evangelizes, disciples and holds each other accountable. Whether or not these two are saved yet, I cannot tell. Right now, they are simply "receptive" to the Gospel, and I am well aware of Luke 8, in terms of the parable of the seed and the sower. There are, however, "complications" and the devil has sworn these two for himself, and yet here we Christian fools are, leading them to Christ anyway. They need Christians to pray for them and they need the power of the Gospel spoken to them. They need spiritual SIGHT from the Holy Spirit, and they need the LIGHT of the Gospel. They will get BOTH.

--Richard Coords

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

On Easter Sunday, while there wasn't the traditional "Alter Call," the preacher gave an "Invitation" to stand up (in order to be identified), and pray to receive Christ in their heart, and they both did. As a result, both are coming to church tomorrow night, and after church, we are going to meet to have dinner and follow up on their decision. I'll let you know how it goes. I intend to put the movie, the Gospel of John, into their hands.

Elder's Wife said...

So...
Are you "ex cal" or "Richard"?
At any rate, I will be praying that God will use you to speak His truth as you meet with your friends tomorrow. Too often, I believe, we see new believers "birthed" and left to try to feed themselves. I'm glad you are involved in church that recognizes the importance of solid discipleship and accountability. There are no accidental disciples.
Kat