As a pastor, I have been told and always believed that non-Christians were more sensitive to spiritual things around Christmas and Easter. In fact, it was the two times of the year that they were more apt to attend church. That belief led to one wit coining the term, “CEO–Christmas and Easter Only” attender.The CEO explains why countless churches, including my own, pull out all the stops to attract non-believers during the Christmas and Easter season. Taking it to a new extreme this year, there’s even a church in Toledo, OH, that is giving away a house on Easter to someone who attends their service, BUT you have to be present to win.
But it is all to no avail. This past week, a friend sent me a link to some recent research that shows that the CEO is a myth. They join the ranks of the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Santa Claus, Unicorn, and other mythical creatures. Chasing the CEO is like going on a snipe hunt.
Here’s the explanation from Thom Rainer at Lifeway Christian Resources.
But, according to our research in earlier years, that may not be the case. 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. In reality then, the CEO Christian is likely more myth than reality.
In fact, if there is a given day where more unchurched non-Christians are likely to attend church, it would be on Christmas eve. Some churches do make special efforts to reach people with the gospel on that day; still most churches have no strategic plans to do so.
Rather than trying to attract and capture a mythical creature, perhaps churches need to get back to doing what we are called to do: Worship and exalt the risen Christ. Help people fall in love with Jesus, and become passionate about their faith. Train and equip them to tell their faith story. Encourage believers to live as salt and light in the world and make a difference where they live, work, and go to school.
It would be more effective, and certainly cheaper than giving away a house.