March 23, 2010 Tony Morgan

What’s Easter?

It’s been almost 10 years since one of my teammates at West Ridge sent me this article from the Barna Group which addresses people’s perceptions of Easter.

There are some interesting stats in the article. Among them, one-third of the people surveyed don’t view Easter as a religious celebration.

Maybe even more interesting is the fact that 19 percent of the born-again Christians don’t view Easter that way, either.

That said, here’s the stat that jumped out to me:

“Overall, 31% of active churchgoers said they would definitely invite someone they know who does not usually attend a church to accompany them to a church service on Easter weekend this year.”

So, if your church is averaging 500 people, only 155 “said” they would invite a friend.

This begs the questions: How many people actually invite someone? And, how many people respond and show up for services?

For churches trying to reach a post-Christian, unchurched culture, I think we need to wake up to the fact that Christmas and Easter are no longer slam dunks for drawing crowds and sharing the Gospel.

These are my personal observations:

  • The crowds that show up on holidays are typically people who are already connected to our churches. Most people who are connected to our churches don’t show up every week the doors are open. The biggest difference between holidays and the typical Sunday is that everyone connected to our churches actually shows up at the same time.
  • There’s a chance we’re sharing the Gospel on Christmas and Easter with a big crowd, but there may be very few people outside the faith who are actually in attendance.
  • Given the current culture, we can no longer assume that just because it’s Christmas or Easter people are going to show up…especially if we’re trying to reach people who are not Christ-followers.
  • In the future, our outreach will need to shift away from an emphasis on the holidays and focus more on the needs of the people we’re trying to reach. If I’m not a Christ-follower, I’m not going to church because it’s Easter — I’m going because I need something that I perceive the church can address.
  • All the marketing dollars you’re spending to promote Easter are probably just encouraging people who are already connected to your church to show up.

What do you think? Is this a jaded view of our current reality, or do you think there’s some merit to this? If so, how do we need to respond?

If you want my opinion, I think the Easter Bunny has a leg up on us.

We ought to view these holidays through new eyes and begin to be more strategic (or shrewd) about how we approach them.

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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