Monday, March 26, 2012

A Bait and Switch Resurrection Weekend? No Thanks!

I am amazed. Actually, I am astounded, disappointed, and greatly saddened by those who believe that the way to draw a crowd for their Resurrection Sunday celebrations is to advertise that the Easter Bunny will be in attendance, and that an Easter Egg hunt will be part of the day's celebration.

Do the leaders of these churches really believe the Easter Bunny and hidden eggs prepare the heart for the entrance of the gospel message? or is this really a "bait and switch" tactic? I think it is the latter, plainly.

"Come for the eggs and the bunny, and stay for Jesus!" Wow, who knew that the gospel needed to be propped up. Sure is too bad that the power of the cross and the empty grave aren't enough of a message today. But if drawing the crowd is the measure of success, then we certainly have to surround that old message with some eggs and bunnies. And why not throw in a pancake breakfast while we're at it!

I'm not sure who said it but there is an absolutely dynamite statement that goes like this: "What you win them by is what you win them to." It speaks directly to the means by which we gain a hearing becoming the basis for ongoing attention. If we gain an entrance into people's lives with a syncretistic message that combines a little gospel wrapped in the cultural preferences of the day, then what happens when we throw the wrapping away later? What happens when we finally tell them that the gospel of Jesus Christ requires them to "deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow him?"

Nothing speaks louder than hypocrisy. And it is sheer hypocrisy for a church to appear in support of the Easter trappings of eggs and bunnies, when they they call their congregation to swim upstream against the myths of culture the other weeks of the year. Do we really think our neighbors don't see through this? Do we really think the unbelieving world is saying "wow, they have eggs and bunnies! They must be right about Jesus too!" This is not only silly but just plain ignorant.

The problem with the bait and switch approach to church is that we've forgotten that the message isn't ours in the first place. We don't get to spin it, or wrap it, paint it, or edit it. The message of the gospel began in the mind of God before time began. It was intellectually complete at that point. It came into our world through the prophets and finally was revealed in all its splendor and glory in the person of Jesus Christ. He has all the star power the gospel needs. Trying to add to the story of the Resurrection is like trying to add light to the sun. It is pure folly.

But there is another reason eggs and bunnies as incentives to Resurrection Sunday attendance is silly. It completely dismisses the fact that those who come to Jesus Christ are drawn by the Father, through the gospel. Jesus said as much in John 6:44: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him." Do we really thing that the promise of bunnies and eggs has a more powerful "drawing" effect that the Father? Why are we so willing to add some fluff to the message in an attempt to increase our numbers? Don't we trust the gospel to be compelling enough?

No, I am not saying there should be no attempt to make our neighbors feel more comfortable at our services. Of course we want to minimize the obstacles to faith. But this is really my point! Eggs and bunnies don't tear down obstacles; they actually build them! They tell the unbelieving world that the church is willing to dabble in untruth in order to gain an audience for God's truth. And the sad part is this: it doesn't work! All this kind of marketing does is dilute the distinctiveness of the church and the gospel to the place where we hardly have anything to offer the unbelieving world that it can't find elsewhere.

So, to my fellow pastors around the country: Don't do it! Cancel the eggs and bunnies! Spend the time you'd give to those ridiculous events in prayer and preparation to preach the gospel in the power of the Spirit. Stick to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Don't confuse your audience with a quilted message made up of some squares of Bible and some squares of myth. Give the world a message we alone can give them. Give them Jesus, and don't let the eggs and bunnies take up space in your churches, or cloud the gospel message in the hearts and minds of your listeners. Let's join Paul in declaring that we're not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. We don't need the eggs and bunnies. What we need is the courage and humility to preach the truth, in the power of the Spirit, and leave the results up to God.

This Resurrection Sunday let's make faithfulness to the message of Christ be the measure of our success. The world can have the trappings of Easter. We'll stand fast in the power of the resurrection.

Hope this helps,



At 9:41 AM , Blogger debra petrella said...

David I was blown away by the ads for Easter (church) egg hunts. Unless I'm mistaken I don't ever remember seeing this before. When you said this on FB, I hadn't seen it yet, or who was doing it. I'm floored and more so that there isn't a lot of folks who see the problem with it. Bait and switch for sure...


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