Thank You Eugene Cho

From our friend Eugene Cho:

No doubt that Resurrection Sunday or Easter is the most significant event or Sunday for the Church. While it wouldn’t be wise to reduce the story of God’s narrative to one event, the death and resurrection of Christ is undoubtedly, crucial. Our faith and the credibility of the gospel hinges upon the historicity and veracity of the resurrection of Christ. For this reason, Easter is often referred to as the Super Bowl for Christian churches.

As expected, a great amount of time, energy, ideas, and resources are invested into this weekend.

And I get it. And I agree with it – in part….

But what makes me feel uncomfortable is the increasing tactics of using door prizes a la iPads, gadgets, TV sets, Xbox 360s, Nintendos, ferris wheels,  pony rides, helicopter egg drops, and other stuff to “entice” or “entertain” people to church.

Don’t believe me?

Couple years ago, a church in Texas hosted what I labeled “the momma of all Easter egg hunts” that included more than $1 million in prizes. In fact, it actually included stuff totaling over $4 million dollars in prizes. A particular church were giving away

flat flat-screen televisions, skateboards, Fender guitars, furniture and 15 cars — yes, cars — at its Easter services.

This year, I’ve seen several churches advertise “We’re giving away several iPad 3!!!” to go along with the usual suspects of door prizes, helicopter egg drops, XBox 360s, Nintendos, gift cards, and super guests. Speaking of super guests, I love and respect Tim Tebow but one church in Texas is having him preach their Easter sermon…and anticipating 30,000 people to come hear Tebow.

Wow. That’s alot of people so I guess that worked…

Am I just jealous since we’re not giving any doors prizes and thus, I’m not winning anything? No, that’s not it…I don’t think. And it’s not just random criticism. I really hope that readers don’t interpret this post as cynicism or as angry criticism:…

And that’s really the heart of what I’m trying to say and I’m absolutely positive that all other pastors and church leaders feel this way.

But we need to do more than feel this way. We need to believe this and practice this. The events surround Crucifixion Friday and Resurrection Sunday are haunting and amazing. While many clamored for signs (then and now), I wonder if we’re giving in to our personal desire and the desires of a culture of entitlement that clamor for prizes and stuff.

Easter is beautiful and it’s significant.

Let’s love people. Let’s welcome people. Let’s practice deep hospitality. Let’s pray for our guest and visitors and treat them in the same way we treat those who come to our churches every single week.

And let’s communicate to them – as best as we can by God’s grace – the unrelenting love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The good news is truly Good News:

God loves us and gave us the His Son, Christ, so that we might not languish in separation but be reconciled with our God – our Father. Not only are we reconciled but God now invites us to be agents of Reconciliation in a world that is in need of mending, healing, and reconciliation.

That’s good news.

 

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • CGC

    Hi Scot,
    I love church history and Easter was the day that those who had been catechized in the early church were baptized.
    Resurrection was not just a dogma to be believed but something that was demonstrated and lived out and baptisms was one of those ways. I wonder how many churches had baptisms happening in their Easter services?

  • http://www.internetmonk.com chaplain mike

    Scot, if this is possible, I think you are far too gentle and forbearing when it comes to your commentary on this matter of megachurch promotions at Easter. These trends are more than disturbing. When churches turn to bread and circuses we betray we have no faith in our message and no reliance upon the Holy Spirit to work through real life situations and relationships to accomplish his mission in the world. I’m going to say this strongly, and I mean it: this is not Christianity.

  • C

    Yes…I think I’m starting to wonder about that article posted here yesterday about Holy Week and Consumerism (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/04/07/holy-week-and-consumerism/)

    The form may be a bit different, but if I squint right, these frenzied egg hunts and carnivals and giveaways seem indistinguishable from the mass consumerism surrounding Christmas.

    And what the hell is a helicopter egg drop? Did Jesus Christ really die and rise again for THIS?

  • Michael

    Scot — glad you posted this.

    I mused on similar topics yesterday when reading a local paper detailing the “impressive” churches in our area that were doing “innovative” things that “bridge to the culture.”

    I think the defenders of this consumerist gospel would point to things like Acts 17. But the problem with our modern “innovative” churches is that they don’t point to real substantive reality like Paul did. They just re-define the gospel to be equated with the consumerist culture. That’s sad to me frankly. If you want to explicitly connect to the culture, great – but please don’t redefine the gospel in the process.

    I wonder how many people who are truly desperate for Jesus actually go to these consumerist events and find the peace their souls long for? Or is it just those who are hoping for a nice dose of “religion” so they can go on with their nice life? seriously. I’d like to see some research on this.

  • http://renewing-your-mind.blogspot.com Kelly

    Thankfully, I have not been to a church that has done this.

    However, I did work with a pastor who wanted to do something similar (the giveaways were not nearly so big, though, but they were still giveaways) in our campus ministry department to get students to come to a particular worship service we offered. I refused to let him advertise it on the posters and we had a big disagreement about it. He told me that while he could see my points, we still had to let people know the FUN of the gospel.

    I’m not aware of any Bible verses where Jesus says “come follow me and HAVE FUN”.

  • http://johnmarkharris.net John M. Harris

    How dare those church members give things away… The nerve. Don’t they know our liturgy that we made up a few hundred years ago. I mean honestly, who gave them permission to be generous through their church to have their material possessions in common. Church isn’t about money, money has nothing to do with the heart. These people need to get back to the basics, don’t they know the schlick from the 1600′s is holy? Yeesh!

  • http://www.internetmonk.com chaplain mike

    John M. Harris…Hmmm. The early church having material possessions in common so that there were no needy people among them vs. giving away “iPads, gadgets, TV sets, Xbox 360s, Nintendos,” etc.

    You are not seriously suggesting these practices have anything in common, are you?

  • Peter

    “The medium is the message,” and this medium of giving away flat-screen TV’s, etc is not the message of the future invading the present, the celebration of victory over death, the vindication of Messiah or anything else that was accomplished in Jesus’ resurrection. This is not contextualization; it’s capitulation.


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