Every pastor encounters them: the Christmas and Easter faces that appear in church only on the holiest of days. It's easy to grow cynical about the once-or-twice-a-year crowd. On the other hand, holidays provide the opportunity to touch the lives of the "under-churched." John Huffman's perspective, originally published in the Los Angeles Times, offers insight and hope.
How do I feel about Christmas and Easter attenders?
I am excited to see them. I have a great desire to observe someone come to life-saving faith in Jesus Christ and then become active in the community we know as Christ's church. That's why on Christmas Eve and Easter, I try to present the very essence of what it is to be born again spiritually by the power of Jesus Christ.
I try to understand them. There may be valid reasons why some people come only on holidays.
Perhaps they have had traumatic experiences in church—even Christians can be cruel. Some may have been burned out by committee work. Perhaps the church didn't really preach Jesus Christ and was just a social club. Some have even been spiritually abused by an overeager family member who has tried to force them into the faith.
Others may have suffered a major personal tragedy that has rendered them emotionally incapable of sitting through a worship service.
I have a dear friend who quit attending after her mother died. She told me: "I can't maintain my composure when I hear those familiar hymns sung. I break down sobbing and embarrass myself."
I needed to be in church. Anne needed a bit of distance before she could reenter.
She says, "Going to church to worship God, to sing 'How Great Thou Art,' was salt in the wound of my broken heart! Protest to God and worship are ...