‘Twas the Monday after Easter and all through the house, Not a pastor was stirring… Oh, wait. That’s the wrong holiday. But it is truth. For pastors and other church leaders the Monday after Easter is a day to rest and recuperate. Easter Sunday and the days leading to it is a busy time. It is exhausting in every way imaginable. Physically. Emotionally. Even spiritually. It is exhausting for all of the right reasons. But it is still exhausting.
Sunday afternoon I texted a couple of pastor friends who had led three worship services on Sunday morning. My text was two words: “Tired yet?” One replied “Yes. I am waaaa… Sted!” The other, “Whew 3 services is a young man’s game!” I preached one service Sunday morning, but it was at 7:00. In order to go through my normal Sunday pre-preaaching routine, I had to be awake at 4:00. I can totally relate to what Tiger Woods experienced last week at the Master’s! Early tee times can be problematic. So can early preaching times.
So pastors all over the world faced the Monday after Easter with a need to rest and recuperate. For me it was also a day to reflect on…
What God Did
As a pastor it is easy for me to get caught up in the planning and the execution of the Easter plan. I am so focused on doing that I forget to reflect on why we celebrate to begin with. Regardless of what happened in your services on Resurrection Sunday, God did something amazing. Jesus died for our sins. And he arose from the grave! That is amazing. And whatever else happened in your services Sunday morning, the power of the resurrection was at work in the hearts and lives of those who gathered.
Sunday afternoon I rejoiced as I scrolled my Twitter feed. People were saved. Churches celebrated baptisms. They had overflow crowds. One pastor posted, “God showed up and showed out.” By the way, I despise that statement. I know what he meant. But God always shows up when his people gather to worship him. And when God shows up he always shows out. But I digress. It was exciting to read the “success” stories.
But what about the pastor who prayed and planned for that kind of “successful” Sunday. Who preached his heart out. But saw no visible response. What about the church that actually had less attending Easter Sunday than on a “normal” Sunday? Pastor, maybe that is you. Be encouraged. The power of the gospel was at work in your services. You may never know this side of eternity what God did. But you can be assured that he “showed up and showed out” in someone’s life.
What We Should Not Do
So, Monday I spent some time reflecting on what God did. What he did two thousand years ago. And what he did Sunday. But I also spent time reflecting on some practical matters related to Easter. Several years ago my friend and mentor, Joe McKeever, posted an article about the foolish things we do at Easter. Here are my observations from this past Easter Sunday. Some foolish things we continue to do.
1. We make it hard for guests to attend.
I read somewhere last week that “church” is Googled more the week before Easter than any other time of the year. People are literally searching for church the week before Easter. They are open. Waiting to be invited. Looking to attend. There is much that we can do to make it easy for them to come. But we can also make it hard.
We did that at the church I am serving as Transitional Pastor. We made it hard for guests to come. It wasn’t intentional. In fact, we had great intentions. But we made it hard. Almost impossible. And I take full responsibility. Here is what we did. We had a sunrise service. My aversion to sunrise services is well documented. I have a conviction that Sunrise Services Are For Women (insert smile here).
In all seriousness, there is nothing wrong with a sunrise service. They can be very meaningful. Just don’t make them your only service on Easter Sunday. That’s what we did. We had “sunrise service” at 7:00 AM followed by breakfast. It was a marvelous time. I really enjoyed it. Our church members enjoyed it. But we had no guests. We made it hard for them to attend.
2. We take the focus off of the resurrection.
We do this in a number of ways. I remember when churches used to show off their preschoolers and young children by having an “Easter Parade.” The children would enter the sanctuary at an appointed time and parade up and down the aisles to the oohs and aahs of the congregation. What we may have communicated was that Easter was about spring clothes rather than the resurrection.
In one church I served the worship pastor brought the Easter worship plan to our weekly preparation meeting. Every song was about the cross. There was nothing about the resurrection. We made a few changes.
This Easter I saw where one church actually planned an Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. Now, I’ve got nothing against Easter egg hunts. They are fun. It can be a great way to connect with people in your community. But don’t do it on Sunday morning. It takes away from the resurrection.
3. We schedule choir programs.
I love music. I love singing. In fact, I love singing in the choir. And I love singing choir programs that make much of Jesus. But I don’t think it is a good idea to have choir programs on Easter Sunday morning. First of all, choir programs have a tendency to become spectator events. The congregation does not engage in singing. So the program becomes a performance. The other issue is that we don’t exposit the Scripture. Now, before you “at” me, I know that a well-done choir program declares the Word. But it isn’t the same as preaching. So, on what is usually the most attended Sunday of the year, the pastor does not preach and the congregation does not engage in singing. And we miss a great opportunity.
These are a few of my Easter reflections for this year. I imagine that I will hear from some of you. Just remember, I am not opposed to sunrise services, Easter outfits, egg hunts or choir programs. I just want Easter to be about proclaiming to as many people as possible the truth of the gospel and the power of the resurrection. Because that is when God works in the hearts and lives of people.
Rob Paul is a church revitalization strategist with over three decades of experience serving established Southern Baptist churches in pastoral ministry. He has a passion for encouraging and equipping established churches to experience revival and revitalization by God’s grace and for His glory. To find out more about Rob Paul Ministries or to financially support the work of church revitalization, visit https://robpaul.net