Today I want to talk about celebrating. Churches need to celebrate more. I say this all the time. All kinds of great stuff is happening in our churches. Miracles even. People’s eternities are being changed. They are moving from death to life – that’s how the Bible says it and that’s a miracle. Hope is being found. Grace is being shared. Forgiveness is being received. All of this is SO worth celebrating.
We need to find appropriate ways to celebrate what God is doing in and through us. I say appropriate because there are things that the whole church needs to celebrate, baptism for example. And things that are best celebrated in small groups such as progress in building a meaningful relationship with a person at work who is now open to spiritual conversations.
What do we need to celebrate? Here is a short list to get you started:
- Answered prayers. We need to share and celebrate these – big and small.
- Spiritual progress. I cited the example above of somebody becoming open to deeper conversation. But we can also celebrate obedience as we hold each other accountable. We can celebrate courage as people engage in new spiritual practices. And we should always find ways to share and celebrate what God is doing in us as we live, love and serve in His name.
- That thing you did as a church. As you live out the Mission and Vision God has given you, pause to celebrate. As your ministry plan unfolds, celebrate along the way. Planned and pulled off a VBS? Celebrate that. There’s lots more. Find it and celebrate it.
- People. Celebrate each other. When somebody wins something or is recognized for an accomplishment, celebrate that person. And please, if people give of their time to help out in any way around the church, find ways of celebrating, thanking and encouraging them.
- Baptism. I left this as its own category because I believe baptism services should be the best, most joy filled services we hold as churches. It bothers me when people don’t show up at these very special services. Or when they show up but just sit or stand there. We are celebrating a miracle. There should be cheering and clapping and all kinds of joyful expression. And hugs. Lots of hugs. This is a big deal. Please celebrate it.
This is a short list. You will no doubt come up with a better, longer and more specific list. There are all kinds of things that God is doing in our churches, small groups, boards, ministry teams, friendships and so on. We need to pause and celebrate them all. If we act like nothing has happened or if we act like it’s no big deal because that’s what was supposed to happen, we rob ourselves of an opportunity to stop and honor God. We rob Him of the honor and glory He is due. We rob each other of the important reminder that God is active in our midst. And we rob ourselves of experiencing and expressing joy.
So let’s celebrate church. I think that’s what healthy churches do.
Marc McAlister, Director of Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada