Many pastors, music leaders and production personnel are breathing a deep sigh of relief after this past weekend. After all the planning, strategizing, prayer, preparation and practice, the Easter weekend service(s) finally happened. Everything (for the most part) came together and people were well served. The music was moving, the preaching powerful and the effect exhilarating. And throughout the world, thousands of people were baptized and saved for the glory of God.
But you may be starting to wonder what you’re going to do the Sunday after Easter. Maybe you’re even asking yourself, “How do I keep that Sunday from being a major letdown?” The anxiety is already setting in.
Here’s how I processed that question recently along with some of my interns from Southern Seminary.
First, we thought about some of the things that could be different next Sunday:
- No doubt your church was like most in that you saw an increased number of unbelieving guests, visitors and family members who think that Easter and Christmas are the only appropriate times to fulfill their religious obligation.
- You probably don’t have as much in the budget for this coming Sunday as you did for Easter. That means you and others might not to put as much effort or thought into it.
- The people in your church probably received daily reminders last week that Easter was coming. This coming Sunday will probably sneak up on them like it does every week. They might not prepare as much nor look forward to it so eagerly.
- After the hyper-preparation leading up to Easter, maybe you’re really looking forward to the opportunity to get back to normal. Some leaders won’t think as carefully or intentionally about the cross and resurrection and will pick songs that people just enjoy.
- You might be less focused on planning the service as a whole, and consequently, less focused on how everything fits together.
All those factors and more contribute to the nagging sensation that this after-Sunday might not be your best effort. That is, until you start to consider all the things that will be the same:
- This coming Sunday, Jesus will be just as alive as he was this past Sunday! In fact, one of reasons we gather every Sunday is because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. In that sense, every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection.
- Jesus’ substitutionary death and glorious resurrection will continue to be relevant to our lives and the best news we have to offer people. Nothing we do on any Sunday—Easter, Christmas or otherwise—will make Jesus look better than he really is. All we can hope to do is point to it more faithfully and clearly. And we can seek to do that every week.
- God through his Spirit will still be with his people as we gather. What is most eternally impacting on any given Sunday is not the size of our production but the details of what Jesus actually accomplished for those who trust in him. He lived the life of obedience we never could. He took the wrath of God in our place on the cross. God vindicated his atoning work by raising him from the dead. He now lives in us by his Spirit and is changing us into his likeness (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:23-26; Rom. 10:9; Rom. 8:11; 2 Cor. 3:18).
- Most likely unbelievers will still be coming to your gathering this coming Sunday.
- We can sing songs about the resurrection any Sunday! That includes every song you can sing on Easter Sunday—”Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery,” “His Be the Victor’s Name,” “Man of Sorrows,” “Before the Throne of God Above,” “Crown Him With Many Crowns” and “The Power of the Cross.” Not to mention songs like “In Christ Alone,” “Glorious,” “Behold our God” and a host of others.
And if that’s not encouraging enough, here are some things that will actually be better this coming Sunday.
- We might have fewer distractions in terms of preparing charts, administrating people and organizing tech details. That means we can give more time to the content we’re proclaiming and singing about.
- We’ll be back to the “normal” routine of life, which will only highlight that the power of the gospel isn’t dependent on big productions. God meets us and changes us in the messiness and sin of our daily lives.
- We’ll be reminded that the earth-shattering, life-transforming good news of Jesus Christ is worth declaring and living for every week.
So we don’t have to wait until the next big holiday to expect God to do amazing things in our Sunday service. All the elements we really need—the Word of God, the gospel and the Holy Spirit—are available to us 52 Sundays of every year.
Which should make this coming Sunday something to look forward to.