This past Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, known to many as Easter Sunday. For one Sunday a year, people come out of the woodwork for church. I do not know of one church on Easter Sunday whose attendance is down. All churches seem to have great attendance on that special day. But, have you ever stopped to ask why?
As a pastor, I am always amazed at this phenomenon. In fact, we often see the same kind of attendance right around Christmas. We often say that in the church, there are “CEOs”: Christmas and Easter Only attendees. But again, why? Why do people feel compelled to come to church more on those two times of the year than any others? As I have reflected on that, here are three reasons I have observed.
First, many see church as the social thing to do. For these, church is simply a social component in their life. They look at the church like they do being a part of other social clubs, and they attend at times when they feel it is more socially acceptable and popular. To attend on Christmas and Easter is simply the social thing to do, so they feel compelled to be in church on those days.
Second, many see church as the parental thing to do. For these, they show up because they feel their kids or grandkids need it. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “We come because my kids need to be here.” For so many, having their families in church on Christmas and Easter is driven by a compulsion to make sure their kids have some good old fashioned religion in them.
Finally, many see church as the religious thing to do. For these, church is just another box in their life, and as long as they check the box once or twice a year, they feel they are good to go. Many see going to church like they do their annual physical with their doctor, or an annual tune up for their car. They just want to come in, get out, and carry on with their lives.
However, all of these reasons, and I’m sure many others like them, are not why people should attend church. While I’m thankful for the many who attend on Christmas and Easter only, I also grieve for them, because they are missing out on so much more. Church was never designed to be a purely social, parental, or religious practice.
What was church designed to be then? According to the Bible, the church is not a building, it is a people. The Greek word for church is ekklesia, which means “the called out ones of God.” In other words, the church are the people who have entered a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and gather together to worship, serve, minister, fellowship, pray, grow, and evangelize. According to the Bible, church is not a box you check, it is a way of life.
True Christians do not attend church because it is the social, parental, or religious thing to do. They attend, and attend regularly, because the church is their family and they need one another in this life. Think of it like this, the church is simply an extension of our personal relationship with God. God saves us individually, but unites us collectively. The church is a beautiful thing, because it reflects those Jesus has purchased with His blood and how He has brought us together.
Easter Sunday has come and gone, but Jesus is still alive. Until Jesus returns again, FBC Newcastle will be celebrating His Resurrection every Sunday. If you don’t have a regular church you attend, come and worship each week with us. Why? Because Easter is more than a holiday.