Ok, here’s a good discussion starter. I had coffee with a dear pastor friend of mine who was NOT happy about the way some churches are choosing to celebrate Easter. Many churches have decided a great way to celebrate Easter is by spending thousands of dollars on renting a helicopter and dropping thousands of plastic eggs from the sky for children to scoop up into Easter baskets. Such “outreach” events effectively draw thousands of people in the community to check out the fun. I’m sure they hear something about the Gospel, the kids have a great time, and they probably experience a spike in church attendance the following weeks. But sometimes the event causes more chaos than fun as in this news story.
But is this an appropriate way to celebrate the true meaning and message of Easter? Are we sending mixed messages? Should plastic eggs, candy filled baskets and an appearance of the Easter Bunny be included in our church’s Easter festivities? Is Easter just about giving the kids a day to remember? Is this “church marketing” taken way too far?
Is this a good use of the church’s money? I’ve heard such events cost $8,000 or so to pull off. Do such “outreach events” reach the people Jesus calls us to reach — the least, the lost, the lame, the left out? Or are they still back at the shelter, bed-ridden in a hospital, without transportation living in the trailer park, waiting for the hope of the Resurrection to show up at their doorstep? Meanwhile, God’s people are at the football field taking pictures with the Easter Bunny, and kids being taught (implicitly) once again that life is about getting, getting, getting — more candy, more eggs, me – me – me.
I know there are strong arguments on both sides of this issue. I know people far from Christ and the church get plugged in, hear the gospel, and come to faith through such events. I know the church must find culturally-savvi ways to reach our over-consumptive culture with the gospel and follow Paul in becoming “all things to all people that we might save some.”
But I wonder if we lose more than we gain when instead of remembering a crucified savior who calls us to take up our own cross and follow Him in living a life of self-denying, sacrificial service to the least of these, and instead indulge ourselves in gobbling up candy falling the from sky and giving away free iPods and Nintendo Wiis to the raffle winner at this year’s Egg Drop. This may be an effective way to draw large crowds of people to your church and make local newspaper headlines, but is it the best way to introduce people to the Jesus ” who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2)?
What do you think?