Maybe it’s because I was raised as an Easter/Christmas Catholic but I really don’t like this overemphasis of making a big deal out of inviting “friends” and “family” (what about strangers?) to church to hear the gospel for these two holidays. Furthermore, they are most likely to hear a watered down message that panders to their emotions anyway in this day and age.
Granted I realize because it’s cultural, and man likes tacking a feel-good spirituality to his autonomy, society at large is more willing to attend church during Easter and Christmas. So by all means if you’re at a decent church invite people you know (and don’t know) to come during those services, as well as any other service throughout the year.
Though I’m not sure if the average Christian just doesn’t know this, but church is the last place unbelievers want to be. They’re not going to get saved because people at the church are “nice” to them, or they hear some toned-down message where the pastor won’t even use the word hell. But that is precisely what they need to hear!
They need to be confronted head on with the reality that they hate God (John 3), do everything to rebel against him (Rom. 3) and will receive their earned wages of death in eternal hell (Rom. 6), if they don’t make a 180 and run to Christ, trusting and asking him to forgive them of their rebellion, and to save them from the wrath to come.
Their heart is a hard rock (Ezk. 36) and you can’t crack a tough rock with some petty plastic straw/sanitary message. You need equally strong tools to break through that rock/a non-pc version of what the Bible really says as the Spirit further hardens or cracks the rock-hard heart. You need tools that “pierce” and cause division between joints and marrow, soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12)—that’s painful! It is only then that the healing balm of the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness via his death and resurrection on the cross can take effect.
Unbelievers should be so offended at these Christmas and Easter services that if God doesn’t grant them salvation right then, they walk out of the building because they are convicted by the Spirit of their sinful and rebellious nature, and they hate it. (I’m not referring to some pelagian “God hates fags” approach where speakers seek to offend simply to get an emotional reaction so their pride is bolstered. That is a strawman’s approach to my entire point. For more information on what I do mean by lovingly offending unbelievers please see my article Offending into the Kingdom.)
That is when you know the pastor has preached a good, biblical gospel sermon that’s not watered down. Granted these services should be more about catering to believers who want to celebrate Christ’s life, death and what he’s done for them. But if a church wants to make it about unbelievers, skip the feel-good candlelight service and do it right.
How can I make such claims? Because after over 10 years of sharing the gospel on the streets, abortion mill, workplace, festivals, parades and wherever I find myself, my experience has been that 10 out of 10 unbelievers walk away and don’t want to hear the truth unless the Lord grants them salvation or at least a softening heart towards his message.
As a side note to pastors, I applaud your evangelistic efforts during Easter and Christmas services. Just please make it your goal to fully and lovingly offend unbelievers with the confrontation of the true, non-pc gospel (that includes using the word hell), instead of playing games and pandering to their emotions during these holidays. Congregants/fellow sheep, please do the same while sharing the gospel with unbelievers outside the church building/community in addition to inviting them to it. They’ll thank you in eternity when they’re in heaven instead of hell. 🐘