A pew full of worshipers is good, a full church is better, but a full life is best! I’ll take a full life over the other two any day! That said, a packed pew and a full church are easier to come by and far more easily noticed. Ministers notice them and so do church attenders. Among the usual comments overheard after worship on an Easter Sunday include statements like, ‘wasn’t it great to have the church full, and have to add more chairs!’ ‘Nice to see so many families out.’ Everyone notices a full church.
Easter Sunday tends to bring out the kinds of crowds that ministers rarely see, but often dream of. Why? Because, despite saying otherwise, and knowing better, we still do count heads. We know its not the statistics but the souls that matter most to God. Counting heads brings immediate satisfaction to those who see God at work when the numbers swell.
Another reason we count heads not hearts – statistics stand out; souls can hide. Its more difficult to develop a full life, than it is a full Sunday congregation. My dream for the church is that we’d begin where God begins – at the heart of things, the areas of our lives that are most valued and therefore most vulnerable.
My hope for the world is that the church would become for them a place where they are able to be honest with themselves, each other, and God – to the point of expecting something to happen within their lives, and through their lives, because they’ve gotten together with others who have the same spirit of expectancy and growing faith in the power of God.
I still get excited seeing a church full of people of all ages on Easter Sunday, but I get even more excited when recognizing the individual lives that are discovering hope and meaning because they’ve met the One who knows them inside out.
I don’t know how full your church was last Easter, but I will keep praying for the lives of each individual God wants to raise up and fill with the power and blessings of the Risen Christ.