God so loved the world that He….dropped plastic eggs from a helicopter?

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?  

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Peter Herzog says:

    Steven Furtick did it: http://www.stevenfurtick.com/elevation/let-‘em-laugh/

    Remember Greg Boyd became a Christian because a girl brought him to an outreach to win a hair dryer.

  2. davidebrown says:

    i think we will all have stories about how some person became a Christian because of some “outreach” event. all that shows is that God can work in our lives regardless of what crazy non-Jesus focused events we can dream up to attract a crowd. what we don’t know is how many people signed off on Christianity for good because of those same events so in my mind that is not a valid argument. i think we know where JBerg stands based on the tone of his article. and i join him there.

  3. Peter Herzog says:

    I typically find that religious people are turned off to events like these. I don’t hear non-Christians listing ridiculous activities (other than manipulative altar call tactics) at outreach events as a reason for their aversion.

    1. Jeremy Berg says:

      The nature of the event sends a message equally as clear as the gospel message preached at the event. Sometimes the former distorts the latter. In the case of the Easter Egg Drop, I believe we turn the holiest moment on the Christian calendar into a petting zoo, carnival, and big screen give-away.

      I’m concerned that we not merely try to “get people saved” (whatever that means) but that we invite “seekers” to consider the kind of life of discipleship we are saved into. The call to discipleship is a serious matter, and Easter is a sacred celebration, and I believe the Egg Drop events just treat it too casually.

      Now, I will say it again: I am not opposed to attractional events at other times — big, crowd drawing concerts, etc. But it is the fact that they do this on Easter that rubs me the wrong way. It is the holiest day on the Christian calendar. And this is a strange sort of holy. :)

      I’m not sure what you mean by “religious people.” But religious or not, I simply find it hard to imagine God sending a helicopter to drop eggs over Golgotha or set up a petting zoo at the empty tomb. These are holy days. Let’s honor them not only with our words, but the nature of our celebrations.

      1. Jeremy Berg says:

        Way to go, David. You got me all fired up about this now, too.

        It must be a revolutionary thing… You can use gimmicks to draw a crowd, but no amount of gimmicks will make a true, revolutionary disciple. By the way, which part of the Egg Drop carnival would be the part we “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus” by laying down our life for our brother? Is that before or after we indulge ourselves in candy, make our children the center of the Easter celebration, and get our new plasma screen TV we won set up in our living room?

        Peace.

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