I’ve been an interested observer of the church all my life. Even before I became a preacher and a pastor, I was fascinated by the church and how it functioned.
That brings me to Easter Sunday and who will be in church and who won’t. This question is on my mind because our pastoral staff met yesterday. One of the topics on our agenda was to discuss Easter services to make sure we are ready for those who will attend.
That immediately made us think about attendance. Easter and Christmas Eve have become the two largest attended services in our church. I think this generally holds true all across America and in every worship experience. In fact, in our church, about as many people attend for Christmas Eve as Easter weekend, This is a major change in recent years. I can remember when the church I serve did not even have a Christmas Eve service.
Those who attend at Easter and Christmas Eve is different.
Christmas Eve is attended by more people without Christ than Easter. I think for most of us that is a new insight. Also, we sometimes assume that people who attend at Easter are there for one of only one or two times for the year.
While that may be true of some people, it does not seem to be the case for the majority.
Instead, Easter seems to be the time of a “family celebration” where all of us show up on the same day.
Certainly, people without Christ come at Easter, but it’s not in the numbers we sometimes assume.
Each year I see family members and people somewhat attracted to the church who will attend because it’s an important family day or because they are being drawn by the Holy Spirit as we think, teach, and preach about the cross and the resurrection.
If this is the case, we need to think differently about our preaching. We need to preach to the open and receptive rather than the hardened and resistant. We know that many people really are receptive, especially if they’ve been invited by someone they respect for their Christian walk.
We really should seek to bring our friends to church and we should encourage our churches to reach out to those who are away from God but not as far off as we imagine.
Wherever you go to church this weekend, I encourage you to invite the people you know and love.
They may be waiting for your invitation.
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