Last night a friend told me of his Easter service experience. The pastor (not me) told his congregation that they do services other than on Christmas and Easter weekend. In fact, they “do this” every week and if they enjoyed today, they ought to come check it out next Sunday.
I love the pointed honesty of that pastor. I love what value that kind of comment speaks for his church – we do this every week, celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He’s telling us that if we connect with today, we’ll connect with the 50 other services that they do each year. There is no “bait & switch.” What you see is what you get. Which is the baseline (I would think) of any healthy church – that their services speak to who they are and who they are becoming with authenticity. And that it happens on every Sunday – Easter or otherwise.
There is a danger in creating these “extravaganzas” on Easter and Christmas that is much deeper than becoming “bait & switch” though. Does it falsely define church as that hour or so time slot in that particular location? By putting so much emphasis on a particular service, a particular time slot, are we compromising the true definition of “church”? In other words, if I “sell” to people that they need to be “in church”, by focusing on these services am I defining church for them as a service as opposed to a community of Christ-followers who happen to get together once a week for inspiration and celebration?
I’m all for using Easter and Christmas to speak to our tradition, to celebrate God’s specific chapters of Jesus’ resurrection and birth on those days but I want people to understand that church is deeper (and more beautiful) than just showing up once a week for a little over an hour to hear some singing and a guy speaking. Church is God’s people on mission together for and with Jesus Himself.
And that is much larger than just a service.