My blog friend Matt Appling wrote a great post Monday over at The Church of No People called The Biggest Failure I Know. In his typical dry and candid way, he questions how much stock churches should put into the number of folks who show up for church on Easter Sunday. You should hop over there and read the entire post, but here’s a brief sample:
“People who boast about their church’s Easter numbers always justify their self-aggrandizement by giving God credit for leading everyone to church or something. Personally, I think most people show up to Easter church because they have a new outfit they need to show off, but I guess the Lord takes many forms, including sundresses. But I have to ask: if God led all those people to church on Easter, is He responsible for them staying home the next Sunday?”
That’s a good question. So often we Christians publicly proclaim that when our churches are growing in membership, it’s a “God thing”. We give him all the glory, don’t we? Of course, when that’s not happening it’s considered poor taste to say, “God is ignoring us. Doesn’t He realize how much we spent on full color mailers?” But do the number of folks who show up on Sunday morning directly reflect how much or how little God is blessing your particular church? I used to think so. But now I’m not so sure. Because as much as I love Sunday mornings at our little church gathering, what happens on Sunday morning is just a glimpse of what’s going on in the life of our church. And as friendly a bunch as we are, the hugs, handshakes and how-do-you-do’s only go so far.
I’m most in awe of Jesus when we have church when we’re not in church.
Easter Sunday we hosted a pot luck get-together at our house for whomever wanted to show up. And show up they did. Some friends brought balls and outdoor games for the kids. Our backyard looked like a school field day. There was plenty of food and good conversation, which is typically the case when we get together. (Unlike me, there’s a lot of chatty people at my church.- Ha!) But what blew me away was that some of the folks that shared their Easter Sunday afternoon with us were people I had just met that morning.
In this era of instant messaging and ability to stay connected with people all over the world, I’m finding more and more people feel isolated and disconnected. People hurt. We need one other. We crave community with each other and with our Creator.
I won’t claim to know what God’s plans are for our church or for anyone else’s. But I do think He is showing us that loving God goes hand in hand with loving people, living in community with one another and serving the world.
And that church isn’t just for Sunday morning anymore. Acts 2:42
When we first planted C3 and met at our home on Sunday mornings, I used to jokingly say, “Be the church because there don’t be no church building.” Funny how that still applies even when we do have one.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.