If you’ve never worked for a church, you may not know the level of tension and stress that comes with Easter Sunday. Among church staffers, Easter is often referred to as “the Super Bowl of church services.” I have been working in churches—in one capacity or another—for fifteen years, and this mentality has been present every single year.
I woke up this morning with an extra degree of anxiety because today is Monday and Easter Sunday is six days away. I barely slept last night. I have hardly shaken off the “pastor hangover” from yesterday, and I am already completely consumed with stress over how Easter Sunday will go.
(“Pastor hangover,” by the way, is when a pastor wakes up on Monday tired with a headache and can’t completely remember everything he or she said the day before).
But then—just now, actually—I had a realization, and it calmed me down. I realized that I don’t have to live like that. Part of what makes Collective Church so wonderful and special is that we get to make our own rules and set our own standards for what makes a successful Easter (or any other Sunday, for that matter).
I’ve been part of churches that crank everything all the way up to eleven on Easter. They pull out all of the bells and whistles—fog machines (for real), concession stands, gift bags, top-notch video production, popular cover songs (well, church popular, which means they are roughly three to five years past the point of being popular to the rest of the world), and everything else they can fit in there with the kitchen sink. Everybody is on high alert like an Emergency Room staff during a full moon. It’s crazy.
As a result, Easter for me has never been joyful or celebratory or fun. Instead, it’s been stressful and exhausting.
But like I said, I don’t have to live like that, and I don’t have to make my staff and volunteers live like that, either.
So here’s what we’re going to do at Collective Church for Easter: We’re going to have a church service just like we do every week. We will do everything we can do in order to make the experience good and interesting and creative, because that’s what we do every week. We will also have an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids, because it’s fun.
But we will do all of these things as ourselves. I’m not renting a sound system or a video projector or setting up a giant inflatable waving thing outside the hotel where we have our services because that’s not who we are.
I think Easter is often treated by churches as if they are going on a first date, and they want to make sure they show up in a super impressive way. We preach sermons about being yourself, and then we do everything we can to make ourselves seem cooler than we really are.
And we don’t have to live like that.
Do I want people to attend our church on Easter? Of course I do. And I would be thrilled if they decided to come back again. But if they do come back, I want them to recognize us when they get there. That’s why we will be doing our Easter services as ourselves.
Easter is a time when we celebrate resurrection and renewal—when we remind ourselves that there is a better story that we are invited to participate in. Should that really be loaded down with unreasonable expectations and undue anxiety?
So I’m letting us all off the hook. We will not treat Easter like the Super Bowl of church services. We will treat Easter like a normal Sunday in which we try our best to give people a meaningful experience.
(You should know that I'm writing this for myself as much as anyone else. I plan to revisit this post several times this week as the anxiety rises and falls.)
If we are to be the kind of church that offers grace and peace to our people, we need to be open to receive that same grace and peace when we feel the greatest pressure to perform.
So Happy Easter, everybody.
Grace and peace be with you.