We called the past week “Holy Week.” It was the week that preceded Easter weekend and Resurrection Sunday.
This is the time Christians celebrate the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem to face His death on the cross for the sins of the world.
It was a willing sacrifice He made to reconcile man unto God and restore the original relationship established in the Garden of Eden. It is a time to remember this sacrifice, celebrating the hope in the resurrection to eternal life with God. As John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
As I write this article it is Good Friday. This is the day Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, accused by the religious leaders, scourged, rejected by the religious leaders for the pardon of another criminal, then crucified.
Somehow it was given the moniker “Good Friday.” Through the passage of time, Christianity has given creative designations to events never listed in the scriptures.
I write this article as I am concerned that what once was celebrated as Holy Week is now a tradition of large-scale Easter-egg hunts listed as, “free to the community,” by many local churches that are simply trying to build their congregational sizes. These events are described as “outreach” to the community. In reality they are a marketing ploy to see how many new consumers of Christianity can be added to their local congregation.
Is it any wonder the Christian church in America is now suspect and distrusted in a growing consensus by the people in our communities? Gone are the days where clergy would come visit you in your home when someone was sick, visit when someone was dying in the hospital, offer premarital counseling and other types of counseling – all provided by the pastoral staff. In most churches no one is on call anymore for afterhours spiritual crises or need.
But, there seems to be boundless energy, resources and time to plan communit-wide Easter-egg hunts with a desire to try to fill the church.
This is an area of true concern. I spent seven years as a full-time Pastor. I have seven years of advanced biblical education and training. I am 56 years of age. I have been in church from my youth. I know there is a generational difference in how messages are communicated today with all of the social media outlets.
There is one message however that should be unchanging.
This message is the role and responsibility of the local church to be available and willing to meet the needs of the people where they are. That tradition has almost completely disappeared across the breadth of this nation from what was once the role of the Christian church and focus of Christian clergy.
We want the community to come to Easter-egg hunts to show them how much we care about them so it is labeled “free.” What about the opportunities to show the community how much you care about them the rest of the year? How many people in our local churches went out to feed the poor? How many churches visited families who have loved ones incarcerated? How many are ensuring orphans and widows are being served, taking care of their needs as they can? Is this not the real role of the Christian church and not grand marketing ploys of “free” Easter-egg hunts?
I was orphaned young. My mother was widowed young. My parents served the local church voraciously. When my father died my mother was left to care for seven children, and I was 7-years-old at the time. When my mother drowned suddenly three years later in flash flooding, I was 10-years-old. I can tell you the local church was never available to help provide support in either case.
This year, I hope we’ve remembered there is a reality to the Christian faith that is to be markedly demonstrative in sacrifice and service to others. If a church isn’t serving the people who live in the community all year, its leaders should not tell the community how much they care by providing a “free” Easter-egg hunt. Save those financial resources and give them to the neediest families.
Jesus’ life was the gift He gave for mankind. He didn’t falsely advertise His love and concern by asking someone else to die in His place. If the Christian church is going to have any merit moving forward it must stop taking and asking more and more from the communities in which they are located.
Churches are getting bigger. They are purchasing more land. Clergy are getting richer. All the while our communities are struggling to pay their electric bills, feed their children, keep their homes, stay together as families, fighting the plague of addictions, looking for hope, searching for someone to sit with them in the darkness until they are able to climb out.
Our city leaders are struggling to meet the budget demands to serve the citizens while churches increase their wealth on tax-exempt revenue.
People are the reason Jesus died on the cross. People are the reason He so freely gave His life. Easter is about reconciliation. Let’s return to this reality and responsibility. If the local Christian churches truly care about the people in the community, take someone a bag of groceries, some toilet paper, or give to local organizations that are supporting those efforts.
I submit this is the greater role of the church. Let’s reflect Christ more and “consumer Christianity” less this Easter and beyond.
Mark Molina is owner of Molina Leadership Solutions.