Basketball has March Madness.

Football has Superbowl Sunday.

Baseball has the World Series.

The Church has…Easter.

Christmas may be an eventful season for churches and ministry leaders. But the busyness and ministry stress of Christmas is often surpassed by the church version of Superbowl Sunday: Easter.

Easter weekend – when every service must meet the high expectations of the congregation. The pastor and worship team have to strike the right note in each scheduled service. The solemnity of Maundy Thursday. The somberness of Good Friday. The silence of Saturday as everyone holds their breath for the big game: Easter Sunday.

The day when unsaved husbands finally accompany their wives to church. When unbelieving grandparents endure a church service to watch grandchildren dressed in Easter finery sing a sweet song about Jesus. When people you haven’t seen since Christmas - and won’t see again till next Christmas – show up to prove that of course they’re Christians.

To please the faithful and the not-so-faithful, pastors and ministry leaders end up walking a tightrope. Don’t talk about money. Don’t talk about hell. Well, maybe a little mention of hell is okay since that’s what the resurrection saves us from. Don’t overdo the old hymns, and don’t play the praise choruses too loud. Everything has to be perfect.  

But this is not a game. Not a sport. Not a show. And perfection? Not a chance.

So before Easter arrives, now is the time to manage expectations.

Things will go wrong.

Not might. Not could. Things will go wrong. The microphone will cut out in the middle of a solo. The lights won’t be centered properly on the worship dance. Greeters and parking lot volunteers will call in sick at the last minute. It happens. And Murphy’s Law says it will happen at the absolute worst time.

If your church is advancing the kingdom of God, the enemy will not be happy. And he will make his unhappiness known. Expect it. Roll with it. Maybe even laugh at the certainty that something will go wrong. Then, by the grace of God and his enabling, move forward in the knowledge that whatever the hitch, it cannot take away from the victory we are celebrating.

There will always be someone who is not happy.

Uncle Joe, Husband Bob, and Grandma Marie will all have strong opinions as to what should or should not have been done to make the service better. Was the music too slow? Too loud? Was the church too crowded? Not crowded enough? Did the pastor speak too long? Maybe he failed to greet Aunt Julia’s husband by name (after all, the last time he came was for the Christmas Eve service).  

The phrase, “an audience of One” may be overused, but it still rings true. Our Easter services are for the praise and honor of the One who rose victorious from the grave. If he is pleased with what happens on Sunday morning, we’ve had a successful Easter celebration.

Performance is not the same as praise.

It’s not about the color of the robes or the color-coordinated outfits of the choir. It’s not the end of the world if someone on the praise team begins singing on the upbeat instead of the downbeat. The focus is not on the singers, it’s on the One we’re singing about.

When it comes to praise, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Worship leaders are not meant to be performers. One pastor begins each Sunday morning by asking his worship team, “Are you ready to sing?” When they say yes, he corrects them. They aren’t there to sing. They are there to lead worship. Being intentional about applying this truth is especially important during church services such as Easter, when many visitors in the congregation don’t know the difference.