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In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – and everything in between – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?

“Viewpoint” allows your Prayer Team’s talented writing team to express their opinions on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree with all they have to say. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say, and perhaps even receive a response back from the writer.

Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders. 

Empty Tomb, Empty Church?

ViewpointEaster attendance at a record low

By Carol Hatcher

Some call them CEO Christians – that’s “Christmas Easter Only.” This important sounding group actually describes those who only attend a formal worship service on the two biggest Christian “holy-days” of the year.

Easter is said to lead even Christmas as the most attended service. While the December holiday celebrates Christ’s birth, the Springtime Easter service commemorates an event with arguably the greatest impact on any Christian – the resurrection of Christ. After Jesus’ death on a cross, He was placed in a tomb. Because He told the people He would come back to life, the Romans placed not only a large stone in front of the tomb but also guards to make sure no one came to steal the body. But no stone, no guard and certainly not death could even keep Him in the grave.

Matthew 28 describes the two Marys going to visit the tomb only to find Jesus missing. An angel there tells them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

God raised His only Son Jesus from the dead.

That bears repeating: God raised His only Son Jesus from the dead. The impact of that one nine-word phrase changes the lives of anyone who chooses to accept it.

It’s a pretty common topic of conversation in the church and among Christians. But is it so common that Christians fail to see the miracle of it all? Certainly if they did, they’d be flocking to churches to celebrate such an event.

Some of the bi-annual attendees cite tradition as their reason for breaking out their Sunday best. Others just feel led to attend on those special days. Thom Rainer, President and (actual) CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources said he wondered if “CEOs” were a myth of the church. He said, “We actually found that most who attend on Easter are fairly regular attendees. They just happened all to come together on the same day. On Easter, those who attend one, two, or three Sundays a month join those who attend nearly every Sunday.”

Myth or not, research from 2013 showed only 58 percent of Protestants, 57 percent of Catholics and 45 percent of nondenominational Christians planned on attending church on Easter. Will the trend continue this year? Only one in five Americans planned to attend church to celebrate Christ’s resurrection – including Christians.

Honestly, this trend doesn’t veer from the current wave of young people leaving the church. Another research study from Lifeway shows 70 percent will leave the faith in college, while a mere 35 percent will eventually return. Where does that leave the church? Somewhat empty.

Why aren’t people planning to attend Easter services this year? It’s because they aren’t regular attendees anyway. According to Barna’s 2014 tracking data, church attendance has fallen from 43 percent in 2004 to 36 percent today. As to the reasons why, Millennials say it’s hypocrisy, irrelevance and moral failure of its leaders.

Whatever happened to drawing close to God? “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew18:20) The apostle Paul spent his life church planting. From Ephesus to Smyrna to Sardis to Laodicea to Colossae, Paul gave a model for meeting together to learn, worship and serve. That blueprint is still used today for churches around the nation.

Unfortunately, the attitudes and attendance records often are a reflection of the hearts of the people. The bottom line is this – you need God. As a Christian, this information should spur you to draw closer to Him in hopes that your words and deeds would reflect Jesus in all you do. And in doing so, others would desire a relationship with Him, too.

So, don’t be discouraged by the high percentage of people not attending. Know that another 20 percent of people just haven’t made up their minds. That 20 percent may be your favorite check-out lady at the grocery store or perhaps your next-door neighbor. Take the time to invite someone to church. Fill the pews, and be encouraged by this:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) (emphasis added)

It’s time America turned back to God. Why not start this Easter?

Carol Hatcher is a former elementary school teacher turned writer, and is a regular contributor to the Vantage Point devotional series. This southern belle lives with her husband and three children in Buford, GA.

Your Comments

The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily
represent or reflect the biblical or world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team.

  1. Karen says:

    I pray that the Lord would move on hearts of nominal Christians as well as devoted followers of Jesus Christ to go to church this Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. O Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit to reveal to each of us the magnitude of meaning of your crucifixion and resurrection! What a magnificent display of your love! Send a revival in the church that extends to every community.

    Thank you that in our little resort community the church parking lots are full to overflowing! Be present and reveal yourself to each person who enters a Christian church from coast to coast this Sunday.

  2. My wife and I saw the movie “God is not dead” yesterday. It was captivating from the get-go. Spiritually and emotionally exciting, it is absolutely astounding to its bold prolcamation of the decision each of us has to make to accept or reject the life-saving good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Go see it and invite your friends to do so. You and they will be blessed-eternally.

  3. I’m daily praying& reading my Bible. I Attend church everytime I can! Great grandma Marylou.

  4. Charlotte says:

    I’m from a family that did not and does not attend church. When I gave my heart to the Lord at a young age – I had to beg to go to church. I was not encouraged to attend church.

    I must say I was influenced by very simple, believing Christians. There were no high pressure tactics to get me to the house of the Lord. They had a love for others and I was drawn by that love – God had given to them. I was drawn by the fact that the living God loved me enough to pay the price for my sins.

    I feel we should stop blaming other Christians for those who choose not to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. It’s a personal choice to celebrate or not. It could be a sign of the times – were we not told there would be a falling away?

    There is free-will given to us by God.Each of us can accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ or we can reject it. We can be a follower of the Son of God and accept His power to redeem us or we can reject the gift of salvation. It is up to each of us individually.

    Let us join other Christian believers on Easter and Rejoice! “He is not dead! He is Alive! Happy Blessed Easter!

  5. Gail says:

    I love going to church and used to go with my parents (we are Catholic.) My mom now has very bad knees so she can’t kneel and keep standing up and sitting. My dad is depressed and had an accident in our church parking lot due to his knees giving out. He is afraid he will have another accident so he won’t go. I can’t drive so I have no way to get to church. I am going to see if there is anyone who lives near me who I can go to church with as it’s not close enough to walk to church. I miss going. I don’t think I am one of the people who don’t go for the reasons stated. We used to go every Sun. and on holidays unless someone got sick.

  6. Vern Knierim says:

    I can’t remember the time that I didn’t go to church. My mother was a dedicated Christian and took my brothers and me to Sunday school and church. My dad became a Christian when I was about five years old. From that time on he
    always wanted to be in church whenever the doors were open. My two brothers and
    I married Christian wives, and we raised our children in the church. Our son and daughter and their spouses raised our grandchildren in the church. All five of our grandchildren attend church. One granddaughter is a missionary in a
    foreign country, and a grandson and his wife pastor a church in Canada. We give
    all the credit to God, Who has been so very faithful to us. Praise His Holy Name!

  7. Karen says:

    Charlotte, Thank your for your precious testimony. It is an encouragement to me to just be a Christ follower. Gail, Thank you, also, I will be praying for you that the Lord will send someone to give you a ride to church!

    Christ is risen! He is Risen indeed! Hallelujah!

  8. Trace Frahm says:

    The authors premise is that churches are doing what they are supposed to be doing but that is not the case. The 800 pound gorilla in the room isn’t church attendance but it is that our western churches have abandoned Bible teaching in the pulpits because the seminary trained pastor has better things to talk about. Barna research has been documenting this pulpit crisis for years but because churches lack real leaders the matter is ignored. Does the church really want to stop the exodus of our young Christians? If so then real leaders will have to replace pulpit mystics and religious philosophers with expository Bible teachers. Bible teachers who can show young Christians the text of scripture for themselves and allow the HS to illuminate their hearts and renew their minds in biblical truth so that they can mature and continue on in the faith. Young Christians want to understand why they believe what they have been told and no amount of substitutions with religious philosophy will change that. Fix the pulpits if you want to fix the problem.

  9. michelle says:

    I agree with what Trace has said. The true Bible preaching churches are few and far between. Remember…
    Matthew 7:13-15

    13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

    14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

    15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

  10. michelle says:

    Happy Resurrection Day!!!

  11. Lori Bevard says:

    What a blessing and privilege it is to go to church on Sundays and other bible studies. I wonder if we lived else where if people might have a different attitude about attending if they lived in a place where it was forbidden, or dictated to you what you should do or where you should go. It was mentioned that we have free will, and that is true, how be it, if you are a true believer that one does not follow the word where we should go to church to fellowship out of obedience to The Lord? I realize there are factors that might enter in, health, ability to get there, but free will should never be the fact unless you are not a believer. Out of love and obedience to our Lord as believers we should be happy to go. I don’t make every Sunday, in fact I miss more than I make because of my job, but I sure do miss the opportunity to go. Christians should feel an obligation to reach out to the unsaved, and they should feel amiss if they are not reaching out to them. Ultimately the “Blame” falls on the one who chooses not to go because of free will, but we do have a duty to our God to spread the Gospel and that includes reaching out to the lost. Are you not sold out to The Lord ? Don’t you want all the lost to come and see? Come and share in the Ressurection of OUR LORD.


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