Easter Sunday is just around the corner, which gives us a chance to reach out to people from the community who do not ordinarily attend worship services. In church life, these people are sometimes called “CEOs,” which means people who only attend church at Christmas and Easter only.
The fact that there are people who do this comes as no surprise. The real surprise is that many congregations within Evangelical Christianity today only celebrate these two holidays. While Christmas and Easter will always be the most important and beloved, many have said “good riddance” to Good Friday, Palm Sunday and Advent, which are days on the Christian calendar that give even more meaning to the two.
Why? In decades past, many Evangelical congregations have steered away from valuable seasons of worship like Advent (approaching Christmas), for fear of looking too much like Presbyterians or Episcopalians.
To their credit, though, a number of churches, even among Southern Baptists, are choosing to expand their holiday focus to include more than Christmas and Easter. This has at least three positive effects.
/// Stability in a world of change
C.S. Lewis said that mankind has two conflicting desires. We desire change, and we desire familiarity. In the calendar and seasons of the year, we get both.
We want to know that fall is around the corner, as we experience the hot summer months. We want to know after fall has gone that winter (and Christmas) is coming. If more churches took advantage of the Christian calendar, so to speak, this would give our members tools of the Kingdom that would give them something that is familiar and something that is new.
In our topsy-turvy world, we each could use a little more stability.
/// Conforms us to His character
Too often, American Christianity conforms Christ to our image, not the other way around. We want church services when we want them and how.
One (non-Southern Baptist) mega church went so far as to cancel Sunday services one week because Christmas fell on a Sunday, and it would be too inconvenient for their volunteers to miss a little time around the evergreen and wrapped presents and sports on TV. What a shame, what a missed opportunity.
By plugging into the Christian calendar more, we end up conforming ourselves to Christ’s work in His church.
/// Celebrate more
Southern Baptists are known for a lot of things: international missions, evangelical efforts, disaster relief and so forth. We are perhaps known more for what we are against in abortion, sexual sins and gambling. These stands we take are important.
But if we are not too careful, the world will know us more for what we are against than what we are for. By borrowing from the Christian calendar, we will have more reasons to celebrate Christ, and for the community to see that what we are all about is Him.
No one is calling for Baptists to go the way of our high church brothers, let alone Catholics, by various days recognizing saints and then some. What more people are looking toward, though, are more biblically-grounded traditions and seasons to celebrate the life of Christ in His church.
So the next time you think about the holidays, view it as an opportunity to reach and teach people of the life and love of our Lord, more than only on Christmas and Easter Sunday.