Huge productions with lots of theatrical lighting and large casts of actors have been a tool for churches in year's past to woo visitors on Easter Sunday. Big name singers and songwriters have been another tool ... but not anymore.
Jim Corrao of Northside Christian Church said, "Mainly the economy. Even though our church offerings have been up over prior years ... it's almost disrespectful to do something that's so big and people are looking for work in your church."
Over the past several years Northside Christian Church in Northeast Fresno has brought in big names like Lee Greenwood and Randy Travis to the Savemart Center for Easter. This year ... Northside's Easter services will be at Northside. And services across town at Northwest Church will also be at Northwest ... a church that for years rented out downtown Fresno's Saroyan theatre for Easter.
Pastor Will Stoll of Northwest Church said, "As far as spending a lot of money ... I think that there's ways to spend it that are really effective and then there's other ways just for a 'big show' ... and I try to stay away from the 'big show'. And I'd rather help people with the money that God gives us."
According to the Barna Group ... a research organization in Southern California ... one in five churches nationwide has cut spending 21%. Most of the cuts have come because of diminished church revenue. But even where revenue is intact, church leaders have found people are searching for simple things in the sanctuary ... like intimacy ... and authenticity.
Doug Holck of People's Church said, "They're also looking for places where there is integrity ... between what's being spoken ... what's being said ... on the platform ... what's being said from the mouths of people who are leaders ... and they wanna know "are you really for real?"
It seems "real" is exactly what Valley churchgoers will get this Easter.