This is a letter I’m sending out to my leaders at Village Green Baptist Church. I hope it’s an encouragement to all who lead in the wonderful organism called “the church.”

Don’t Forget to Celebrate!

I have to tell you, “I love a party!” I enjoy when people get together for a good reason and celebrate something. There are things we celebrate on an annual basis. We celebrate Christmas. We celebrate birthdays. And if you want to stay happily married, you celebrate wedding anniversaries. Celebrations help us mark the seasons of life. What are some of the favorite pictures you enjoy looking back at? Celebrations. Why? Because they are milestones. They are markers. They help us remember all the good that God has given us through the years.

One thing we aren’t good at celebrating is celebrating the “wins” we experience in ministry together. Oh, we have the obligatory church anniversaries when we look back every 25 years or so, but we don’t celebrate the things we do together from week to week, month to month or even year to year. Maybe this is because we are trying to stay humble and stoic about what God is doing. Or more likely, as leaders we are off to the next thing! We quickly forget the victories and start trying to prepare for the next battle.

When we don’t take the time to celebrate, as leaders, we miss some great opportunities.
1. We miss the opportunity to say “thanks” to all those who have given so much to accomplish ministry together.
2. We miss the opportunity to recognize what God is up to.
3. We miss the opportunity to allow success to direct our future.
4. We miss the opportunity to revitalize.

What do celebrations accomplish?
1. They value people. People know that they are noticed and that means something even to people who don’t like to be noticed.

2. They increase joy. Our team’s thoughts are directed toward God and His faithfulness. And they just allow us to be happy about what has happened.

3. They give us direction. When we look backward, we can use that to set direction forward. If God is blessing a ministry or activity or team, we see a trajectory for ministry that impacts the Kingdom. And we are encouraged to continue to pursue new opportunities that fit in with that direction.

4. They refresh people. People are energized. They have a moment to rest and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Think about those “vista” places as you’re climbing a difficult trail. They allow you to stop, look at where you came from and enjoy the view where you are. This is great motivation to keep moving forward.

How can we celebrate?
1. Go somewhere. Take your team to a restaurant and have dinner together to celebrate. Or, make your next meeting at Caribou, or the Morton Arboretum, pay for coffee, then take time to reflect and enjoy all that God has done. Have a party for the volunteers.

2. Say something. First, tell your team. Let them know what you’re proud of and then share it. Write up your victories and put them in the church newsletter. Send them to me to share during Sunday prayer time in the service.

3. Give your team something. Share a new resource, a book or an article that will help them or encourage them. Give a DQ gift card for an ice cream. Somehow, nourish their spirits.

If you haven’t celebrated anything recently, my encouragement is, find something! PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR now! For the Admin. Group; celebrate the budget when it’s done! For the Gov. Council; celebrate the Mosaic service when it starts! For the Deacons; celebrate all the care you’ve given over the last months! Team leaders, find something even if it’s a small thing and celebrate. When you establish the pattern of celebration, you will find new joy and excitement as we serve God together. It makes us long for the next thing we can celebrate!

This Sunday, after 10 years of ministry at Village Green, I’ve been encouraged to share the 10 highlights of ministry. And I’m looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate what God has done. Not to celebrate what God has done through me, but through us! This is our time to be refreshed and be reenergized for the future God has for us.

Celebrating doesn’t mean that there isn’t much to be done. It simply means we recognize by God’s grace, we have come so far! And that is something to be happy about.

I would love to hear your feedback on the questions below.
Why is it hard to take time to celebrate?
What kinds of things could you celebrate?
How have you celebrated?