Hey leaders: a quick thought for you. One of the issues we’ve struggled with over the years has been learning to celebrate “wins” (small or big) in simple ways. In our hyperspeed culture, it’s way too easy to be thinking about the next series, the next event, the next initiative, the Next Big Thing on our cosmic-sized To Do List. It’s really difficult to take time to celebrate a mission-advancement moment. Plus, in an environment where we’re super-conscious of not blowing our own horn, taking servanthood seriously and not believing our own press, we can slip into an odd “celebration-adverse culture” inadvertently.
After the dust settled last weekend (a self-guided prayer journey through the soon-to-be-opened Healing Center from 3-to-6:30pm Friday, a 7pm Good Friday observance, and six weekend celebrations on Saturday and Sunday), we didn’t want to lose the recognition of God’s presence at all of this as well as let people who missed the events on Good Friday know that God was here…and good things happened in their church. We sent out a personal email (that’s not an oxymoron, is it?) to our all-church email list that allowed me to run through the events in a way that celebrated what God did.
The response to that email was fantastic; it fosters a sense of community and a “we’re-all-in-this-together” vibe. Think of seeing a comedy movie in a packed theater full of strangers who feel the seeds of community when we all laugh at the same thing (“You laugh at that, too…?”). That’s the beginning of “belonging-ness”. How much more should that be happening with us who are connected via rebirth to the Spirit of Christ?
Anyway, it’s a simple idea to celebrate a common experience with God. Try it on your own folks (your small group, your ministry area, your project team at work, even your own family) and don’t miss opportunities to celebrate a vision-enhancement experience.
Want a sample? Here’s the email we sent out…
From: Dave Workman
Sent: Wed, 26 Mar 2008 5:36 pm
Subject: An email from Dave Workman
Hello Vineyard family!
I’m still buzzing after this past weekend! Who would have thought so many hearts would be touched in all six celebrations? I just wanted to send you a quick update and not miss the opportunity to celebrate with you.
It started on Good Friday afternoon with an open house and self-guided prayer tour of the Healing Center. I wish everyone at VCC could have been there—it was incredibly moving. There were ten stations that each had a beautiful poster with an “imagine”-type statement on it and several specific ideas for prayer. You could sense the power of the Holy Spirit—from the children’s play area to the assessment rooms—or the food and clothing areas to the auditorium where LaVina will meet—or the prayer rooms and sanctuary to the Growth & Healing classrooms. I met some people who said it was the most emotional and spiritual experience they’ve had at the Vineyard!
And then came the Good Friday Observance in the main auditorium. Wow! After Joe Boyd introduced the evening as a somber reflection on the cross, we took a vow of silence and were led by words on the screens. Charlie Hines put together a small string orchestra that played hymns and classical pieces but were shielded from sight so that the total focus was on the cross. At one point the words instructed us to bring the cross from the back of the room to the front and that no one had been preselected to do this. Suddenly, dozens of people got up and carried the huge rough-hewn cross to the front with a train of people following behind, hands on each others’ shoulders. All spontaneously. I immediately started wiping the tears away. And I can’t say enough about the way communion was offered as we examined our hearts. A solid hour went by so quickly, I was sure we finished early. Powerful.
Then the Easter Celebrations began Saturday at 5pm. The theme was simple: a retelling of the road to Emmaus story in Luke 24 and how Jesus discloses Himself. The response to a very straight-forward invitation was overwhelming. I’m never sure what to expect, but I was surprised at the crowd of people who came forward. When I think of how my own life changed on Easter way back in 1974, my heart beats a little faster for what God has in mind for each one that responded. I wish you could have seen their faces from my vantage point—tears, anticipation, nervousness, smiles and wonderment.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting others and being so open-hearted and willing to shift your regular celebration time to make room for others! For many, many people, this is the beginning of the abundant life. I can’t wait to go through the Road Trip series together over the next six weeks and watch how Jesus reveals Himself to us.
Celebrating with you,
ps: For those of you who are counting, I’m told over 9800 people (including Good Friday evening) came through the auditorium doors, and about 370 people surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. Now that’s a Resurrection Sunday!