Easter Sunday is around the corner and that means egg hunts, fellowship meals, and sermons on the resurrection…for most churches anyway. For the last two weeks I’ve passed a banner on the way to work promoting “Rez Fest.” On said banner is a cartoonish image of a cross and empty tomb alongside a helicopter hovering over the words “helicopter rides” and “helicopter Easter egg drop.”
It’s easy for me to pass that advertisement and look at it with disgust, but the fact of the matter is, I’m guilty of doing the same.
I’m guilty of titling articles in such a way as to attract a readership.
I’m guilty of prioritizing event planning over sermons and classes.
The sad thing is I knew that it was wrong. What’s worse is that I know I’m not alone in my fascination of gimmicks.
Gimmicks themselves are not inherently wrong. Is it wrong for a church to have helicopter Easter egg drops? Not anymore than it is for them to have air conditioners and a shiny new projector. Gimmicks themselves are not the problem, but the motivations behind them can be.
I can’t speak for this church hosting the “Rez Fest” (so I won’t), but I can speak to my personal experiences. There has been many a Bible class planning session where I’ve told myself “I need a relevant series title or no one will care about this study.” In other words, “I don’t think the content of Scripture is going to be attractive enough for this crowd unless I spice it up a bit.” Is there anything wrong with crafting a well-worded class series title and designing an appealing flyer to go with it? No, but my mindset behind the method was wrong.
Jesus doesn’t need my gimmicks, and He doesn’t need yours either. Fancy imagery and big name speakers might help drive people into your church building, but once the spectacle has worn off, your church will go back to the same place it was before: looking for the next gimmick to help temporarily inflate attendance numbers and make us feel good about ourselves.
People need substance, not spectacle (John 6:26-27) and they need gospel, not gimmick (Rom. 1:16). Fellowship dinners might get people in the door, but it’s Jesus that will keep them coming. Don’t spend so much time on the gimmick that you forget to give people what they truly need: Jesus.
Seminars, holiday meals, and slideshows can be powerful tools to reach our community, but don’t fall into the temptation of thinking that they’re what matter most. The church is nothing without Jesus, elevate Him and He’ll draw all unto Himself.