The Great Commission doesn’t say, “invite”, “open your doors”, “welcome”. It says, “Go”.Click to tweet
I love Easter Sunday. Kids’ in their little suits and dresses. Excitement in the halls. Decorations. Plastic eggs all over the playground. Tired women checking the clock worried the ham is going to burn.
There’s crafts, big music, candles. Who doesn’t love a celebration?
It’s safe. It’s fun. It’s tradition.
Yet, with all that I wonder if the world would be better off if every Christian church closed its doors on Easter Sundays.
I’ve always loved Easter. However, working on the “inside” of a church I learned three things about Easter Sunday.
- Easter is a celebration for the Christian. It is a time to remember the basis of our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Easter is time where non-Christians or “Christmas/Easter Christians” who don’t normally go to church may walk through the door. Because of this, there is a huge emphasis on evangelism.
- Easter and Christmas are the two biggest giving times of the year. It’s like Black Friday for businesses. It’s a time where budgets get caught up for the year because churches have bills to pay. Salaries, insurance, building payments, supplies, etc. Closing the doors on Easter could be catastrophic – financially.
The reason I think Christian churches should close the doors on Easter Sundays is largely based on #2.
In most churches across the US, the last few weeks have been focused on the service for Easter Sunday. Decorations made. Cool backdrops designed. The order of service has extra music, maybe even a skit. Only the best musicians and vocalist are used on Sunday.
A larger than normal “welcome team” is placed at the door. Extra something in the “welcome bags’ are thrown in. Children’s ministry has better than normal crafts.
Flyers or postcards have been made to “invite” people in the neighborhood. A large banner made with Easter service times posted on the exterior of the church. Website updated. Basically, “the mother-in-law is coming so let’s look put together and impressive as possible”.
What’s wrong with that? Why is a church focusing on evangelism on Easter Sunday an issue?
Because the Great Commission does not say, “Invite”, “Open your doors”, “Welcome in”.
It says, “GO”.
Here’s an idea: What if instead of opening our doors to invite people in, we closed our doors and actually did what the Great Commission says by going out?
Wait! What??? But it’s tradition.
Jesus transformed tradition by fulfilling it. What if we transformed Easter tradition by doing the same – fulfilling it?Click to tweet
It gets even crazier. What if Christians closed their doors on Easter Sundays and went out and cleaned trash, repaired roofs, cleaned the showers and disinfected the beds at the homeless shelters – WITHOUT MATCHING T-SHIRTS!
No, “we’re here from such and such church. Here’s a card if you’d like to join us next Sunday.”
What if we just went out and did our job by loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Because let’s be honest, who really cares what church they or you go to. Jesus doesn’t.Click to tweet
But, wait- there’s more! What if we didn’t go back and pat ourselves on the back. We forgo the slideshow of all the good work we did that day. We don’t use testimonies to make next year’s Easter “shut the doors event” even bigger and better because this year was such a “success”. What if we didn’t count numbers of how many people walked through our doors because we closed them.
What if we just did what we’re supposed to do.
Tradition? Or Transformation?
You may say, “We don’t want to close our doors because Easter is a celebration for the Christian”. I would agree. Let me challenge you with this then.
All the money spent for flyers, banners, extra crafts, set decorations, outside speakers or musicians, extra goodies in the welcome basket, and the prizes for “who brings the most people to youth group” that weekend was actually spent on your own flock.
You know the ones- the flock that God already gave you. What if that money was instead spent on extra money to the single moms who chose life WITHOUT the humiliating 5 page financial document proving they need help. Their single moms who chose life. Of course they need help!!! They’re not poor because their stupid. They’re poor because- hello- they’re single moms who chose life.
What if the best musicians were sent to the shut ins of your church. Instead of extra goodies in the bags or baskets, the money was used for a breakfast for the elderly.
What if the money raised on Easter Sunday wasn’t used for salaries that pay above the average American wage, but instead went to the hurting right in front of you.
THAT is a celebration of grace. Of the REAL gospel worth celebrating. We’re no better than anyone else. We don’t have or even need all the glitz and glam. All we can offer is our literal helping hand.Click to tweet
I hear so many Christians over and over again comment on how bad the world is. How “out there” is trying to ruin what’s “in here”. AKA the Christian culture we’ve created.
But I have to ask, how much of the world being bad is our fault? We don’t and haven’t done what we were called to do. There’s no “build a gate”. “You’re better than them”. “Protect what’s yours”. Sorry. I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain Jesus didn’t say those terms.
If we had closed our doors and done our jobs would “the world” be in this situation.? If every church closed it’s doors every Easter and simply went and did – more transformation by showing love and kindness would happen than any fancy service could ever provide a “non-believer”.
I know. You’re thinking Easter is this Sunday so obviously we can’t do anything about that.
I would ask you to do this:
Think about the above. Is Easter about evangelism, money for the church, or a celebration for the Christian? Pick a lane.
What can you do in your own home? Can you make one less side dish and give to feed a starving child in Syria? Can you tip the waitress at Easter brunch not double – but triple- WITHOUT saying what church you’re from??? Zero words. You just did the deed.
If there is one thing I know this Easter season is that whoever may be sitting next to you in a pew, a huge conference hall, a social service office, or a fellow parent at your child’s game -it’s people are hurting. THEY’RE HURTING.Click to tweet
Be mindful when you throw out celebratory words this Sunday, without truly thinking about the implication to the person on the other end.
There is no difference between you and the Ukranian Christians right now who have had their tongues cut out, raped or shot. There’s no difference between you and the black brother or sister who has been shot in the back of the head. There is no difference between you and the parents who can’t afford ONE single gift or special food for their child this Easter.
It is not grace, because many of them know God, too. Use what resources you’ve been given in heart, spirit, but also in practical hands. Do what’s right because you can when others can’t.
The celebration of Jesus walking out of the tomb wasn’t to pad our pocketbooks and live a life of ease. It was done with love, humility, compassion, empathy, and sacrifice to the point of death. What will you be doing this Easter?Click to tweet
In regards to our hearts at church on Easter Sunday:
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD ?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
“THEN your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
THEN when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. THEN your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”
Stacy Pederson is a funny motivational speaker who has almost died a bunch.