Pastor, it's okay to be "simple" this Easter
As a friend of mine once said, “Easter is like the Super Bowl Sunday of the Christian world!” Many pastors and churches know that Easter is the most likely Sunday for visitors. Many churches go all out (especially big ones). Some have a lot of extra elements and decor. Some do large-scale events leading up to Sunday. The worship team is expanded, the coffee is fancier, and the pastor is expected to give the sermon of his life.
Being a pastor of a “small” church (less than 100) that works with other small churches, the battle against these elaborate expectations can feel crushing to some. Pastors of small churches see the Facebook posts of how all-out the larger churches are going. Some try to keep up and feel anxious. Others resign themselves to just be “less-than” compared to those other churches and feel inadequate. Even if your church isn’t doing that much more than normal, you may feel the added pressure of preaching that killer sermon. But I want to encourage you, pastor. It’s okay to be simple. In fact, it’s more than okay. It might just be better.
Is the gospel enough this Easter?
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is appalled that the church is dividing over their favorite teachers (1 Cor. 1:12-13). And Paul points to his own example of humility, that he preached the gospel, “not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17). It seems Paul knew that if he put on a show and utilized his education and charisma, he might have people accept his message but this terrified him. If we “put on a show” and people follow Jesus because of it, we might just be “emptying the cross of its power.” Of course we want to do things with excellence. But let’s be careful not to lean on our ability to compel people with amazing rhetoric or an emotionally-powerful worship team. The gospel is what we want to proclaim.
If we “put on a show” and people follow Jesus because of it, we might just be “emptying the cross of its power.”
Paul says the same thing in the next chapter. When he came, he did not come with “lofty speech or wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:1). He decided to “know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). He came in weakness and fear, so that the response to his message would be a demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Cor. 2:3-4). Why did he try so hard to keep it simple? “So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (2 Cor. 2:5).
So, let me ask. Do we need the big show, the expensive equipment and lighting, the big band, the fashionable outfit, the killer sermon? Or is the simple gospel enough this Easter?
Pastor, keep it simple. Keep it all about Jesus.
Isn’t it interesting that on a day where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can so easily be tempted to lean on our own power and creativity. If anything, Easter screams to us that if Christ’s death and resurrection were sufficient to accomplish the salvation of all who believe, we need nothing more to be faithful on Easter Sunday than a clear and joyful presentation of the gospel. Let’s be excited and offer up worship to the best of our ability! Let’s make it a wonderful celebration in our churches. But let’s not fall into anxiety that we will not be “good enough.” Pastor, the empty tomb is proof that we don’t have to be “good enough.” Jesus was good enough for us. Exalt him this Sunday. Don’t try to bring attention to your skill as a preacher. Just bring attention to him.
Pastor, the empty tomb is proof that we don’t have to be “good enough.” Jesus was good enough for us. Exalt him this Sunday. Don’t try to bring attention to your skill as a preacher. Just bring attention to him.
If you are doing things simply this Sunday, don’t be discouraged. It’s okay to be simple on Easter Sunday. Let’s just make sure we are faithful in how we are picturing and proclaiming our risen Savior. And as Paul rightly said, “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1:16-17). Have faith, dear pastor. The simple gospel is enough. It’s enough for you. It’s enough for your people. It’s enough for all who come on Sunday. Trust in it. Proclaim it. And leave the rest in God’s hands.