Comparison is the death knell of joy.

The measure of true success is not equal to the number of scheduled services or the size of the sanctuary. There’s always someone with bigger and better plans. Your church may have arranged for one Easter service, while the megachurch down the street is offering five. Or maybe you’ve scheduled six services, but the celebrity pastor in town rented the local football stadium.

Too often, Easter services deteriorate into a “come-to-my-church-we-do-it-better” competition. Well-meaning or not, instead of reaching the unchurched, we reach into other churches to fill our pews. Or we attend our own pity party if we’re on the receiving end of the one-upmanship.

Purpose now to set aside comparisons, whether negative or positive. If your church’s Easter service is the best worship you can give God, motivated by hearts filled with gratitude for his indescribable gift, that’s enough.

Let the main thing be the main thing.

Christians have been fighting the culture war for so long, we may not recognize when the enemy is us. It’s not the Easter Bunny’s birthday, yet we sponsor Easter egg hunts on the church grounds to draw young families. We know the importance of sharing the gospel, yet the sermon might be a feel-good message designed to not offend the many visitors attending for the first time.

What is the main thing? Jesus’ resurrection proved his victory over sin, death, and the devil. God’s wrath against sin was fully satisfied. Because God became man for a season, men – by grace through faith - may be with God for eternity. Let nothing obscure the message. What the attendees do with it is between them and the Holy Spirit.

This celebration is as much for the pastor as it is for the congregation.

Where did we get the idea that pastors owe their congregations a spectacular Easter service? That because they get paid to shepherd the sheep, the sheep can sit back and enjoy the show?

We may not say that, but actions speak louder than words. Pastors and their families are made to feel as if they must defer their Easter joy until everyone else is satisfied. After the final person leaves and the last door is locked, pastors do feel emotion, but it’s more likely relief than joy. Determine now that joy will motivate what you do – the same joy you desire for your ministry attendees.

Easter is a time of victory for every Christian, whether pastor, staff, or church member. Let’s be intentional – pastor and church member alike – to ensure that ministry leaders have the same opportunity to experience the joy of that victory. They’ll need it to sustain them at least until next Christmas!

DRAva Pennington teaches a Bible Study Fellowship class. She is also the author of Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur.

Publication date: April 9, 2014