I’m sure the music was great, the church was full and looked brilliant, the sermons were ones you put your heart into – and there were loads of visitors.
But did you enjoy Easter?
I mean, did you enjoy the gospel itself, for yourself, to God’s glory? Did you delight in Jesus’ resurrection?
Because there’s a danger of putting on a fake Easter celebration – as fake as the Easter bunny – in church.
And if you only enjoyed the fun churchy trimmings, you’ll fall flat when the music’s poor, numbers are down and the sermon is just a bit ho-hum. And it could be worse.
I was reading a book recently which I intend to review – it’s simultaneously the best and the worst of church growth books. And part of the worst part, is where the reader is asked to evaluate what people enjoy about their church, and why they would be excited to invite someone to come to church with them.
(You can already tell it’s an American book – no Brit would use the term ‘excited’ in that context.)
And it was to do with the lively music, the quality preaching, the kids ministry…
But it has to be Jesus, doesn’t it? I kept turning the page, hoping he was going to mention that faithful preaching of the cross is what should thrill us, and knowing that that was going to happen would make me want to invite a friend along even if I knew the music was going to be dire. Jesus will be there, even if the Easter Bunny doesn’t.
And, conversely, a highly professional, engaging, and large crowd of people excitedly celebrating a lie, should be avoided at all costs.
But it was all to do with the trimmings.
You know by now that this is not a plea from me to be amateur, or have low standards. We need great music, and deep kids ministries. But it is a plea to make sure that those of us who teach and lead remain soaked in the gospel ourselves, and soak our ministries in it. And that we help people to remain soaked in it.
So for those of you reviewing a good set of services, and learning lessons for next year – make sure you enjoyed Easter. Not the Easter bunny.