Dear Pastor, So many Christians attend Easter services but then disappear. How do I fight my bitterness over it?
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
So many Christians attend Easter services but then disappear. How do I fight my bitterness over it?
A: If I’m honest, I’d say every pastor across the nation right now is nodding in agreement with you. We’ve just passed the high, holy, Super Bowl of Christian events: Easter Sunday. Next to Christmas, it’s the religious extravaganza when folks who identify as “Christian” suddenly appear in church to make sure they’ve got some tread on their highway to heaven. For many of us, this Easter also fell on the first Sunday of the month when mainline denominations also celebrate the sacrament of Communion (known as the Eucharist, the Lord’s Table, the Lord’s Supper, etc.). A double-whammy of God-centered goodness occurred … and it was truly wonderful for those who participated.
But then, the weeks go by and those passionate pew-sitters in their Sunday best are just as suddenly not in church. They popped in, shook a hand, had their moment and popped out. The church leaders who poured out their collective guts in the pulpit, proclaiming Christ and urging a few seeds of salvation to take root, now bow their heads in fatigue and mild defeat. Where’d all the people go? Those packed pews and the excitement of our risen Christ - what happened?
Bitterness, the old friend and companion of disappointment, resentment and exhaustion comes knocking. We ignore it. Life in the ministry, after all, is God’s battle, not ours. But then, as the weeks and months return to normal and the summer activities empty out our energetic throng in lieu of little league, our hearts are heavy as we stare at empty seats and the resulting financial slump.
Don’t get me wrong, those who attend church love the idea of it. They love the option of having church available to them whenever they need it or want it. They’ll even gleefully support it financially once in a while just to keep Grandma’s pew waiting for them at their disposal. They smile when they fondly reminisce of their childhood Sunday schools, the potluck dinners, the old-timers and traditions.
Yet the church-going public in America has decreased. The weekly priority of giving back to God our time, attention and money is now optional and considered a service we may choose to utilize for ourselves, in the same way our car needs a local mechanic. No longer do we serve the church or the people in it. No, the Church has become something we use when we need it. It’s no longer something we are.
Thankfully, this is not the whole story. God always has his remnant group of loyal soldiers who stay the course, remain in the battle and obey the Bible’s command to “gather together and keep on doing it, as often as you can,” (Hebrews 10:25). This special group of authentic believers would meet in an open field if they had to, just to be certain God received his worship and his due. To these precious ones called “The Remnant”, Church is never an option it’s a way of life. It’s the glue that holds all things together for them. Their families, lifestyles, provisions, spending habits, attitudes and politics often reflect where their treasure is hidden.
My friend, as we struggle with bitterness in the post-Easter gloom, there is only one thing we must never forget: “There by the grace of God, go I.” Those folks who dismiss a weekly church service are missing out on a life inside God’s guardrails of safety and his wisdom. They’re gambling high stakes and forfeiting the knowledge which informs them of their future. Most importantly, they are missing him: the God who calls them by name and longs to meet with them in a family setting of humble saints. We must forgive and pray for their pitiful souls. They know not what they do. And one day they will desperately wish they’d spent more time with Jesus and his family.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information, please visit www.adriennewgreene.com or tune into the “Ask Pastor Adrienne” YouTube channel.