It’s really a known fact, but yet something that indicates a much deeper problem among us. Traditionally, Easter will bring out the highest level of church attendance for the year, to be rivaled only by Christmas Eve. But, just as sure as the numbers will be high on Easter, we can be just as sure that the numbers will be low for the week after Easter. That’s the reason the name “Low Sunday” is such an accurate label for the week after Easter. 

And, so far, my sense is that this holds true even in a “stay at home” environment. I suggest that many more people were looking for and tuning into Easter services online than will be doing the same for this Sunday – the Sunday after Easter.

Reverend Bill Curwood is a retired DOC pastor from New Zealand, who has made his home in Kentucky with his wife, Ann. Bill would “fill the pulpit” for me occasionally when I was based in a Kentucky church. I remember him telling the story, in his thick New Zealand accent and with the wise persona of a retired minister, about these 2 very different Sundays. “On Easter Sunday,” Bill would say, “I’d look out among the throng and ask boldly, ‘Where did all of you come from?’” And then on the following Sunday, Bill would stand in the very same spot, in the very same church, as he had on Easter Sunday, and ask God in heaven, “Where did everyone go?” 

I, for one, do not consider church attendance to be the answer to our spiritual seeking in our individual lives. The answer that God has for us to our “less than best” life is in Jesus himself, and not in a church made by and run by mere humans. In fact, the ability of a church to lead people to the real Jesus is correlated directly to how much it is actually Jesus’s church and how much God’s will directs that church. Jesus is the answer. Not church.  

But I do believe that church attendance can be an indicator, and often a very reliable one, of the direction that people’s lives are going in. For many folks, but not all, regular and consistent church attendance can indicate a deeper desire to point one’s life toward Jesus … to continue turning their life away from worldly things and toward spiritual things, as Jesus would say many times in many ways in the Gospels. 

If we assume my deduction is correct, at least to some degree, then we must consider the week between Easter and Low Sunday to be the most dangerous week of the year for many “Christian” seekers. Every year, consistently, this very week has the most church dropouts compared to any other week of the year, I recognize there are many assumptions that are included in my proposition, but yet the numbers speak loudly. 

I believe that people want the answer to take them from their “less than best” life to the peace, joy and abundance that Jesus claims to offer. But where to find that answer and how to get it if one does find it, remain the most common reasons that the church fails to deliver over and over … like every Easter it seems. A large group of seekers come to church every Easter, and then don’t bother to return the next week, or the next, or the next. 

So isn’t it fair to ask: What’s wrong with the church? Folks seem to know they will get a beautiful and uplifting Easter Sunday experience at church, but not anything more than that. Apparently not anything worth coming back for! And I would conclude that’s dangerous – both for the ones who don’t come back and for the church. What the people need is a transformational experience, not an emotional or worldly one. The church, from my point of view, has become driven by emotional and worldly experiences. One way to tell is to consider how much of our contemporary culture is driving the content and messages of the modern day worship experience. I will say that when done well, and with great kid’s programming, large crowds can be attracted. But more often than not, the transformational experience is missing.

What is dangerous is that’s what “good” church has mostly become these days. Imagine comparing that worship experience to walking with Jesus as He taught and healed on a daily basis. But then, only 12 … maybe 70 … perhaps a few hundred … made the commitment to consistently come with Him on a daily basis … and be transformed by Him. We need churches that can replicate that “following Jesus” experience.  

I have a little laminated care that has 7 basic teachings of Jesus taken directly from His own words. Things like “Do not judge” and “Love your enemies.” It is rare, if ever, to hear these 7 basic teachings of the way of Jesus proclaimed in many of today’s churches. And it seems to be, by my own unscientific scanning, that the bigger the church is, the less likely it is to hear these basic teachings. 

Now, I’m not calling out churches in this article. I’m calling out you. Because you are either the consistent and dedicated seeker of the transformational experience that is “following Jesus,” or you are not. Easter is a great day to attend church, you might say, but it’s not something I want to commit to. 

The reality is that we all face this human dilemma: How do I emerge from my “less then best” life and begin to experience the “abundant life” that Jesus says He has for me? There is not just one prescription for that remedy – but for this audience in particular, this is what I would recommend: 

  • Find a church that teaches Jesus and His way.
  • Find a church that consistently proclaims the fundamental truths of his teachings.
  • Find a church that tells you that the love Jesus calls you to be is the same love He has given to you: unconditional, all-forgiving, never-ending.
  • Find a church that calls on you to love your enemies and to not judge others, and that the key to receiving all that God has for you is giving away all that God has given to you.
  • Find a church that teaches you about a God that matches the notion of who God is that you already hold deep in your soul.
  • Find a church that accepts you just the way you are, and that tells you that the only thing you need to change is the direction of your life – facing away from the world and towards the way of Jesus.
  • When that’s accomplished, make that church the most important part of your life and your family’s life.
  • Dedicate your most important worldly possessions – time, prayer, and resources – to that church.
  • Consider each worship experience, each class, each small group, each article, and each church event, as the most important and transformational part of your daily life.
  • And, teach your children well. Show them how Jesus affects your daily life; tell them why church can actually be the most important part of their life; and model for them what it looks like to a man or woman of God in the world today. 

When a church becomes the “Body of Christ” then everyone gets the gift. The question remains – what will you do with this gift? How important is it to you? What sacrifice is it worth to you? I suggest that if you can see past the common notion of “church” and instead see the “living Christ” in the congregation, then this week won’t be the most dangerous week of the year for you. Perhaps it might even be the most rewarding and fulfilling week. And, if that’s the case, then maybe you can save some others from the danger ahead. 

Are you coming back this Sunday? Look for our Facebook Live “Low Sunday” Service this Sunday at 10:00am 

Don’t be dangerous … Do Jesus,

Pastor Bob