“I call them CEOs – Christmas and Easter Onlys,” said Brian Minnes, minister at Emmanuel First Baptist Church at 1100 12th St in Sparks.
While not at Emmanuel’s last Easter because he joined the church seven months ago, Minnes said the increase in attendance is about the same anywhere.
“There’s probably a 20- to 25-percent increase no matter what ministry you are in,” he said.
Henry Lawson, the pastor at Spanish Springs Baptist Church for six years, said even with his small congregation of about 40, he sees about a 10-percent increase in attendance during the holidays.
Pastor Maurice Washington at Center of Hope Christian Fellowship said Easter is even more attended than Christmas at his church. He attributes this to the fact that Christmas can fall on weekdays and that family and friends visit from out of town.
“Christmas is more centered around family,” Washington said. “But Easter is a different story.”
Washington said he sees up to a 50-percent increase in attendance in his usual congregation of 100 to 125.
But Minister Ross Triplett at Church of Christ Sierra Nevada sang a different tune than Minnes, Lawson and Washington. He said his congregation of about 45 people is always consistent.
“We don’t have the two- or three-timers,” Triplett said.
Minnes explained that on Christmas and Easter people feel as if they have an obligation to show up to church. He also said the holidays just put people more in the mood for faith.
“More particularly around Christmas,” Minnes said. “It’s more of a season. But there’s less of a spike for Easter. It’s no pomp and circumstance. It’s all about the resurrection.”
But spring is in the air every Easter and a great time to bust out the new sundresses, Minnes said.
“And what’s a better place to wear it than in the church?” he asked.
In the middle of writing of his sermon for Easter Sunday, Minnes said he was thinking about those who don’t come to church on a regular basis.
“I’m asking myself what I can say to them so they think, ‘Maybe I should do this more often,' ” Minnes said. “So they think, ‘Maybe I should open and read my Bible instead of using it to balance my table.' ”
But Minnes said this is not an Easter habit but what he does every Sunday.
“I’m in the mode 24/7,” Minnes said. “I don’t feel like I try harder at certain times in the year. My passion comes through all the time. I push as hard as I can for the Lord every Sunday.”
Washington also said he’s always trying to find ways to get people to attend church more regularly.
“We live in an entertainment age,” Washington said. “So without losing the gospel message we try to cater to that.”
Washington said he is time-conscious as well.
“Around Easter the weather warms up and people want to be outside,” he said. “So I try to accommodate those desires.”
But this does not mean that either Washington or Minnes shoot for a guilt trip.
“They already know they don’t come,” Minnes said. “I don’t try to drive the point home and make them feel guilty. They want to experience the love of Christ. They need that because, let’s be honest, we’re all getting screwed over all the time.”