I was recently visiting with a friend who attends a different church than mine and she mentioned having some mixed feelings about increased church attendance during holiday seasons.
Having heard about this dynamic many times before, and having personally witnessed it growing up as a catholic, I responded rather flippantly by referring to such people as “Chreasters.”
She had not heard the term before so I explained that it was a clever contraction of Christmas and Easter, intended to designate those who only come to church on holidays. She thought it was hilarious and we enjoyed a good laugh together.
Upon further reflection, and having been convicted by the Holy Spirit through scripture, I personally do not plan to use this word ever again and I am inviting all Christians to join me in this commitment. I would offer the following reasons for your consideration:
Scripture – The Bible offers us plenty of designations for outsiders who may visit our church services. The Apostle Paul, for example, referred to such an occasional visitor as an “unbeliever” or “uninformed” in 1 Corinthians 14:23-24 and it probably best for Bible believers simply to use the words God has given them to use.
Charity – Calling people names is rude in general, but it is especially rude when they are not even present during the conversation. Such rudeness is contrary to the Christian’s calling in this world to be charitable. One of the biblical marks of charity is that it “does not behave rudely” (1 Corinthians 13:5) and we need to remember that when speaking of others.
Pride – There is also a serious spiritual danger in thinking that the weekly worshiper is somehow better than the occasional visitor. While it is true that they are being more obedient to scripture by sanctifying a weekly sabbath, it still begs a far more foundational question: “Who makes you to differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Folly – Placing people into the mental category of “Chreaster” betrays a certain folly on our part because it involves drawing conclusions about people and their motives without even asking them what it was that brought them to church in the first place. Such premature judgments are soundly condemned in scripture as both shameful and foolish (Proverbs 18:13).
Ministry – Christians have been called to do the work of ministry and build up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12), but when we think wrongly of visitors, we will either fawn all over them in desperate hope that they will visit again, or we will fail to engage them with genuine interest because we are already convinced that we will not see them again. Neither is appropriate or edifying.
These are just a few of the reasons I have banned the word “Chreaster” from my personal thoughts and speech.
Again, my main purpose in sharing these reasons is that you would consider joining me in this commitment so that we, as Christians, might be more useful to the Holy Spirit as he continues to gather and perfect the saints.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:29)
– Pastor McShaffrey