Over the last few days, I’ve read lots of recent Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets about how great everyone’s Easter was. I think it’s interesting how we pastors feel the need to flex our muscles and speak of how many attended worship services, how many people got saved and how full the parking lot was. Just like we do at the gym. Hey, I’m as prone to that as anyone, but it suggests an interesting question. Does Easter Sunday really have anything relevant to say about your church? Can it be used as a measuring tool for the effectiveness of your ministry? We certainly act that way, but I’m not so sure.
Yes, our Easter Sunday attendance is higher than any other Sunday of the year. But I believe this is more of a cultural thing than spiritual. Going to church is something you do on Easter, along with buying a new dress and eating candy. It’s a ritual repeated at Christmas, and in part, on Mother’s Day (when mom asks, “Why don’t you come to church with me today?” and you feel like you can’t say no.)
If that’s the case, then Easter Sunday says nothing at all about the church or ministry. Having said that, it might make you wonder why we put so much into this one worship service per year. Think about it. We invest a lot of time, energy, and money in preparing music and messages, purchasing lillies, and trying to impress someone. And experience has taught me that everything will return to normal next week. Spring break will be over. Families will return home. All the special flowers will be gone. And the candy will be eaten.
This is not to say that I don’t think Easter Sunday is important. The resurrection of Jesus is the one fact that gives oomph to every other gathering on the first day of the week. It is the one certainty that turns our morning into dancing and our sorrows into joy. It is the one thing that can truly brings us to life. But Easter worship itself is really just an anomaly. Something that boosts our average attendance statistics (and hopefully, our offerings). It’s very much like free pastry day at Starbucks. Bat day at the baseball stadium. Fourth of July fireworks. You attract a crowd for a day, but it will be back to business as usual.
So if it’s not Easter, what is an appropriate tool for measuring the effectiveness of a church’s ministry?