Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why PCC Does Not Have Big Productions on Easter or Christmas

Lasers, smoke, strobe lights, live animals, donkeys, camels, free cars & free plasma tvs as giveaway prizes, helicopter egg drops, cantatas, singing Christmas trees, drama, plays, actors…. this is what Easter and Christmas has become in some churches.
Evangelical pastors refer to Easter Sunday as the Superbowl of church services.  It's when the highest percentage of borderline believers (or non-believers) attend.  So, in an effort to reach such people, we ramp it up by offering the above mentioned marketing tools…. and go over the top.
Here’s the delimma.  If such a person comes back to church the following Sunday, he/she is going to be disappointed and let down because things will be back to normal.
It’s the classic bait-and-switch.
You remember what it’s like to go on the first date, right?  He/she is picture perfect, dressed to the nines, polite, and has good manners.  They say the right things, ask the right questions, opens the door for you, picks up the tab, and makes your heart flutter.  But this is not the real person.  The real person is hiddben behind this skin-deep fake presentation.  You discover the real person later on.
In church work, it’s better to just “be ourselves” on Easter and Christmas.  That way people know who we really are.  Sure, we anticipate larger attendance on those days.  In response, we have all our workers on duty to accommodate the crowds and we do everything possible to provide the best experience for our guests.  We turn up the dial in a lot of ways - roll out the carpet and offer good programming - but we do not go over the top.
I could give you plenty of theological and personal reasons why.  And we could even debate it, polarizing people into two camps, with one side using workds like shallowness, compromise, and the other side saying “we need to do whatever it takes to reach people.”  But I won’t go there.  You probably already have your opinion anyway.  Besides, this is not about you - it's a positional statement about PCC. 
However, what I will share with you is this:  it is simply a poor strategy.  That’s one of the biggest reasons we don’t do big productions at PCC.  Despite the large numbers that are often attracted by these events, it is a strategy that does not work.  In fact, it is even counter-productive.  Here’s why:
1.  It is exhausting for church workers, volunteers, staff, and their families.  It burns everyone out.  You spend all month long in choir practice – two or three nights a week – in the evenings after work – and away from your family.    There’s rehersal for the drama.  There are costumes to buy, fit, and alter.  The men in the church have to construct a stage design on the platform.  They haul in lumber, nails, and tools.  They work just as many hours in the evenings as everyone else.  The pastor and staff are coordianting schedules and trying to stay on budget.  Everyone’s nerves run thin.  You’re irritating each other.  The stress level increases and frustration mounts.  And by the time the production date comes rolling around, all joy is lost.  People are sick of it all and can’t wait for it to “just be over.”
2.  It costs too much money, and the expense is hard to justify.  Do you have any idea how much it costs to pull off events like that?  Most don’t.  In big churches, it can easily top $50,000 to $100,000.  Can you imagine?  Even in smaller or mid-sized churches, the expense is still very high (in proportion to the budget).  While PCC does not have a large budget, any expense on such an event would be a strain and unjustifiable.  Are we really reaching anyone with these events?  Besides, do you want your tithe money to be used to “rent a donkey” for the day?  Or a helicopter?  I think there's a better way to use the Lord's treasury. 
3.  It’s bait-and-switch evangelism that does not work.  If fails miserably because it is not sustainable.  It is a known fact that whatever conditions you create to reach people, those are the conditions you have to maintain to keep people.  If you win people with rock-and-roll concerts, free pizza nights, camel rides, Disney-level productions, Cantatas, singing Christmas trees, etc, you have to keep doing those things to keep them.  This is not sustainable - in manpower or resources.  Besides, people who show up for an Easter carnival are usually not interested in hearing the gospel anyway.  Yet, if you reach people "with the gospel"… in a God-honoring worship service… where Jesus is exalted, and His Word it taught without fear or favor… then you are actually making disciples.  For them, the Word is enough.

4.  Sunday is supposed to be a day of REST.  This doesn't need any elaboration, does it?
Tomorrow at PCC, we will simply be ourselves – messed up and trying to do our best to follow God.  We will offer the best Sunday worship service possible – just like we always do.  There will be exceptional music, solid teaching from God’s Word, warm fellowship, good times, and, hopefully, lives will be changed as people cross the line of faith.
It will be a meat-and-potatoes service – just like the other 51 Sundays of the year.
And if your guest comes back the next Sunday, he/she will not have experienced a bait-and-switch.

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