In a recent Facebook post, I commented on how many churches work really, really hard and provide worship services all during Holy Week, and that one church I know of does the complete opposite. They offer no Holy Week services, and instead put all of their energy into creating an incredible Easter Sunday experience.
I said in that FB update that I was not endorsing one way over the other, but after being pushed a bit – I have changed my mind.
Over these many years, I have had the opportunity to work in and consult with a broad spectrum of churches – from mainline to independent, liberal to conservative, and traditional to contemporary.
In almost every church that offers the Holy Week menu (breakfast devotionals, lunch speakers, evening services) I hear the same comments/complaints from the ministry team. “We are really tired by the time Easter Sunday gets here”.
Easter Sunday is one of only two times that unchurched people will come to your church in large numbers on their own initiative. All of these people show up at your door, full of energy and anticipation – dressed in new clothes and enjoying seeing friends and neighbors. They are there and open to hear what God (through you) has to say. It is “GO” time, and you’re just plain tired. You haven’t been able to put much time into preparing for them because of the Holy Week menu. Your staff is tired, your facilities look tired, and your message is tired. In the back of your mind, you are just glad that this will all be over in a few short hours.
This incredible opportunity to reach people (the very reason Jesus went to the cross and that we have the Holy Week menu) has just been missed. And you traded it to keep the “faithful” happy.
Those weekday services reach a very small number of people – and coincidentally, those people are the most committed church members that you already have.
So I guess I am ready to declare a side on this issue. The Holy Week buffet is not why Jesus came to this earth, suffered was crucified, died, and was buried. It was for Easter and the resurrection. It was for those who are drawn to Him and the hope He offered.
Easter week should be preparation for a celebration of victory over sin and death, not a time for an annual week long funeral.
Give out devotional guides for your members, have “A” Holy Week service to reflect on the depth of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for all of us, encourage your mature believers to spend extra time in prayer and study – but don’t miss the point of it all. Jesus died to reach those who are coming to your church on Easter Sunday.
Of course, all of this assumes that you and your church actually want to reach out those who do not yet have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But if that is not a concern for you– well… ignore the rant. Enjoy the buffet.