Is this really the point of Easter? "Start a sermon series," "take your church to the next level?" It is funny, in the past, Baptists hated Easter because of its association with the Roman Catholic Church calender. Now they've done one better, made Easter a day designed specifically to grow churches by preaching tidy practical sermons. You know, the ones which include six easy steps to an improved you sex life, or having mega man finances. Easter Sermon Series: Discover God's Plan to Give You Nice Things! Good Friday Service Special: How to Stand Up to Persecution for Not Sleeping Around!
Things like this fit right into the Freudian critique of religion which said that it is all just paternalistic wish fulfillment, or the Marxist claim that it is the free drug to subdue the poor. Interestingly enough, Christianity in its Pauline expression will have nothing to do with either of those critiques (a crucified messiah is simply an historical novum, not a wish fulfilled and Christianity's creation of a group of people who seek to include the rich while dying to feed the poor hardly constitutes an opiate, it is more like giving a ninety year old man amphetamines, old principalities and powers die when people listen to Jesus), and it sadly has little to do with that article.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Later in the same letter Paul encourages the Christians in Philippi to imitate his example here (which is based on Phil 2:5-11). Seek to know Jesus Christ, he says, by sharing in his sufferings so that you can become like him in his death! The resurrection of Jesus means that he is commanding us to put away our petty efforts of moral self-realization and to get on with loving people like Jesus did, even if it kills us! Nothing is to get in the way of this, not family, heritage, moral achievements, status, skin tone, sexuality, economic background, geographic local, or the famed homogeneous unit principle for church growth! Jesus destroys all those illusions of favor from God by reminding us that obedience to his all loving Father in a world gone to pot, is finally death and abandonment until an awaited resurrection from the dead. Jesus is our favor from God and he got very little special treatment.
If there were a way besides Jesus' death to end our slavery to the powers of death, God would have thought of it, until then, Christianity is painfully ridiculous and irrelevant to any who simply want to be successful at life on their own terms. This is why people think of the resurrection as a means to the end of church growth, because the resurrected Jesus does not make sense to them. They should rather be thinking of church growth as the growth in Christlikeness of Christians and the every day sharing of Jesus Christ with others, even going to places where we know he is unheard of to do the very things he said to do (hang out in prisons, give people clothing, inviting the homeless to have dinner in our houses, sending money to poor communities, praying in secret). The radically gracious God still accepts us with our sham religion of numeric increases and hip sermons, but my goodness how awful the gap between the New Testament and stuff like this.