Every year on Easter Sunday and around Christmas time churches see a significant increase in attendance. Instead of being sparsely attended they become half-full, instead of being half-full they become mostly full, instead of being full they become packed to point of ushers bringing out additional seats. Many churches even have additional services just to account for the annual increase in attendance. Churches reach their full capacity with people who seem to attend church only around Christmas and on Easter Sunday or what my wife's 85 year-old grandfather calls C & Eers.
The church we attend has three services, two of which are contemporary and one which is traditional. We usually attend the middle service which is contemporary. This is a new service that the church recently started and so it probably has the least attendance (maybe 150-200 people or about ½ full). Yet on Easter Sunday, it was packed. Ushers brought out extra chairs to accommodate the people waiting in the hall looking for seats and people were asked to move to the middle of their rows to make room. The usually late arriving crowd was seated before the music started.
To me it seems peculiar to come to church just two weeks a year. As I looked around the sanctuary I couldn't spot a single C & Eer. No one stuck out like a sore thumb. They were singing, praying, and worshiping like everyone else. They were dressed in their Sunday best and so were their children. And maybe that makes it easier to come to church only two weeks a year. If you attend and seem to still have the praying, singing, and worshiping down and the sermon doesn't cover anything you haven't heard before then why should you attend regularly? You know you're saved or at least fairly certain of it anyway. You say grace at the dinner table and teach your children good moral values. You give money to charity. You have a Bible on the bookshelf and read it occasionally. You don't need to go to church every Sunday to know what's right and wrong. You're busy and have better things to do. You'd like to come more often but your spouse is never in the mood or dealing with the kids is too much trouble. You feel like you don't really fit in even though you're good at faking it. No one seems interested in getting to know you when you do attend.
I wondered about a few things after this service. Why do these people only come to church on Christmas and Easter? I'm sure there is a plethora of reasons but what are the biggest reasons? Do they attend the same church every Christmas and Easter or pick one out a week before? How much more could churches do if these people were all regular attenders? Do they ever feel like attending church more regularly? What stops them? What encourages them? Are their spiritual needs being met by coming to church twice a year? Are the spiritual needs of their children being met by attending church twice a year? Were their parents C and Eers? Or did their parents force them to come to church every Sunday against their will? Do C and Eers come to church on those dates because they know the birth and resurrection of Christ are important dates or because it's tradition or customary? How do churches best reach out to people who only attend church on Easter and Christmas?