By Kenneth D. MacHarg
I can hardly wait. Easter is such a joyous occasion. And what an exciting line-up of events is on tap to celebrate the holiday.
Take this announcement from a local church:
Do you want to see a Sky Diving Easter Bunny? “Join us for the annual Eggstravaganza hosted by ——– Church….. We will have a Sky Diving Easter bunny that will land in ——- Stadium and take pictures with guests. There will also be games, music, inflatables, free food, and a big easter egg hunt with over 15,000 eggs! Also, there will be a helicopter involved. You don’t want to miss it!
How can you do better than that? A sky-diving Easter bunny, games, inflatables and over 15,000 eggs. Memories that will last….well…at least a day or two—to say nothing of what all that sugar will do to your health.
Yes Sir, that’s what Easter is all about!
Oh, yes, by the way, if you ask, they’ll have a worship service or two on Sunday. No eggs, no inflatables, no games—just entertainment with good music and smoke to set the atmosphere.
One would wish that we would put as much effort into inviting people to come to Christ and talking about His resurrection and our salvation through Him.
Yes, if we Christians do what we are supposed to do and put as much money and energy into letting God be known and if we encouraged and welcomed people to Easter Sunday services, people would leave much, much more fulfilled and satisfied than they will after attending a bunny bash.
I remember talking with a man several years ago who owned a radio station in a small town. He was discussing media advertising and whether it was successful. He said, “I tell business people that through radio announcements I can get people to go to your store. There is no doubt about that. The key will be whether you have anything to sell them.”
On Easter Sunday, of all Sundays in the year, we have something to share with people that is not only life-changing but eternity-changing. A gift that will affect and change more people than many millions of jelly beans will ever be able to do.
Jesus, who knows what people are really searching for and how to redeem them for eternity, put it this way: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-30
Yet, with all of the secular Easter hype we give them jelly beans and colored eggs. In contrast, Jesus asked, “”Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matthew 7:9-10)
People may not realize it, but many are looking for much, much more than decorated eggs. They are seeking “the way, the truth and the life”—the eternal way, truth and life that only God can give them through Jesus Christ.
There’s another statement from media experts that serves as a warning to those of us who deviate from the evangelistic task we have. It says, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” In other words, if we get people to come out for sky-diving bunnies and jelly beans, that’s what they will receive, what they will go away with and nothing more.
If, on the other hand, we attract them with the message of forgiveness and salvation, meaning and purpose through Jesus Christ, then that’s what they will come seeking and carry away with them.
Some will argue that the real reason for the sky-diving Easter bunny event is to expose the church to those who come for the fun and encourage them to attend the services of the sponsoring congregation. All well and good, but isn’t it just a little bit, or a maybe a large bit, deceptive and, if you are honest, unethical? To manipulate people to go to church by offering them jelly beans and a parachuting bunny? How will they trust the message they hear if there was a form of deception in attracting them there?
Millions are seeking meaning and truth and peace and hope and eternal assurance. Perhaps our resources and efforts should be put into offering those things, honestly and openly.
When we let people know that Jesus has the answers to those eternal questions and desires and we help to introduce them to Jesus through worship, studies and pastoral care, then they will come to find the “the truth, and the truth will set them free.” (John 8:32)
(An excellent article by Karl Voters in Christianity Today explores the second media concept (What you win them with is what you win them to) in depth. It is well worth taking a few moments to read: https://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2019/april/evangelizing-or-advertising.html?paging=off )
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