the shape of leadership

An Easter to Remember

The power of the simple gospel message

This weekend, we will celebrate the defining event that separates Christianity from all other religions — the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the church world, Easter has evolved into some amazingly elaborate expressions of creativity. There are lights and videos, performances and productions, inspiring songs, and top-shelf sermons. There are giant Easter egg hunts and over-the-top ministry for everyone from kids to adults. There are expensive marketing strategies, engaging social media campaigns, and extra services to accommodate the crowds. Easter is the Super Bowl Sunday of the Church.

And then came COVID-19. At most churches, the front doors will be locked on the biggest Sunday of the year. Apart from a few congregations doing drive-in services, parking lots will be ghost towns.

At this time of year, I typically receive mailers advertising a wide selection of Easter services in the area. This year I received one postcard from a church encouraging everyone to attend online.

However, the message of Easter remains the same: Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. He defeated death, hell and the grave, and Jesus made redemption possible for every man, woman, boy and girl. That message of hope is the most powerful tool you have in your Easter toolbox — not just this year, but every year.

COVID-19 has changed how we do things at this time in history. But the Resurrection split time itself and robbed the grave of its power. Without the Resurrection, there would be no hope, no Church, no Easter.

The Resurrection changed everything, and as you faithfully proclaim this unmatched message of hope this Easter, know that the simplicity of the gospel message still has the power to change hearts. The apostle Paul boldly declared, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes … ” (Romans 1:16).

Even without all of the fun bells and whistles that typically accompany Easter, the gospel will prevail.

That will be true this year as well. Even without all of the fun bells and whistles that typically accompany Easter, the gospel will prevail. It will pierce darkness, awaken the soul, resurrect dead hearts, and breathe hope into a world gripped by fear.

So, as people watch your service online, don’t worry about how you compare to the church down the street. Don’t worry about whether your service was creative enough or your marketing was strong enough.

Faithfully steward what God has entrusted to you. Do the best you can with what you have, and then let the power of the gospel do its work.

I was reminded of this just a few days ago when our church celebrated Communion online. At the start of the service, I encouraged everyone to grab something to represent the body and blood of Jesus … perhaps some juice, a cracker or a piece of bread.

A few minutes later, my wife, Karen, read a Scripture and shared some thoughts online before leading the congregation in receiving Communion. As the service continued, people began to text her, expressing how meaningful that moment was to them.

Was it different? In every way. Some had grape juice and crackers on hand. Others told us their Communion cup was everything from hot tea to their favorite coffee. And the bread was everything from tortillas to Pop Tarts.

Yet God used it to minister to hearts during a very broken time in our world. One family told Karen they didn’t have any bread or crackers, so they ate a stale pastry. They said, “Communion moved both of us for some reason,” and they reflected on it as a Communion they would always remember.

The same will be true this Easter weekend. Things may not be perfect, but the Resurrection will still breathe life into the hearts of hurting people, and it will be an Easter they always remember.

So, faithfully proclaim the gospel. If you’ve already recorded your service, trust that the songs you’ve sung will bring glory to our resurrected Savior, and the message you’ve preached will bring the spiritually dead to life. That’s the beauty of the gospel — the power of God that brings salvation.

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