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Are You Celebrating?

One of the factors that we look for in churches that are plateaued or shrinking is the passion element.

Passion is the vital fuel of an organization’s mission…and it’s not intangible. For instance, do people care about the organization and its mission…and how do they express it? Do they feel a sense of ownership for the vision? Are they eager to serve when opportunities present themselves? Are they willing to lead when asked? What is the organization doing to encourage individuals to act boldly? In the Elemental Leaders book, I mention 6 “firestarters” that help stoke passion in a complacent church—or any organization for that matter. But interestingly enough, even leaders and organizations that are high in passion often gloss over one key firestarter: celebrating successes. It may be that the leader’s own adrenaline will drive them to take the next hill after a specific goal has been reached...and skip celebrating. But without some sense of celebration, followers will forget the purpose of a passionate appeal or initiative. Celebrating a success centers everyone on the true point of a particular initiative. For healthy organizations that accomplish a specific objective, having a value celebrated through a personalized story is crucial. Not only does it remind everyone that a goal was accomplished, but it reinforces the idea that the organization is values-driven above all else. This is far more important than communicating a specific financial or numbers achievement. What’s more, this is critical not only after a final success, but during the process of accomplishing the goal. When I was pastoring, we once launched a capital campaign to create a center for holistically meeting marginalized people’s needs in our city—it was a huge, outward-focused endeavor. We asked everyone in the church to pray specifically what God might have them do financially and encouraged them that it wasn’t about equal giving, but equal sacrifice. We wanted the church to understand that the joy for us would be seeing our city change…and that we were sacrificially giving in the present because of something we saw in the future. During the five-week campaign, I received a powerful email that read in part: “I thought you might want to hear my friend’s story. Kelly is her name and she attends the Vineyard weekly with her five children, ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade, two of them with cystic fibrosis. Five years ago she called me to tell me her thirty-year-old husband had died the night before of a heart attack right in front of their children, while Kelly was holding their newborn baby. “Recently she asked us how we plan to commit to the campaign. We shared a few ideas we have, as our finances are tight too, then she shared what God is putting on her heart. She had been asking God, “What can I do? You know how little we have.” Kelly decided that since she has no extra cash, she could sell a piece of jewelry, not just any piece, but a special sentimental one Dan had given her years ago. “What is her legacy? Not the jewelry, but the lives she can have a part of investing in…forfeiting a treasure that is priceless to her. Now that is someone I want to be like.” I cried when I received that email. Kelly’s story was reminiscent of the comment Jesus made while watching people give an offering at the temple, particularly when the wealthy would ceremoniously drop a boatload in. But when an impoverished widow walked in and gave the equivalent of a few pennies, Jesus states implicitly that in the economy of the Kingdom of God, she gave more than all the others combined. When I read part of that email to the church during the campaign, a revelatory reality-check fell on the church: a deep, challenging value was being expressed in that small “success story” of sacrifice. It became a convincing moment of conviction. Don’t forget to take the time to celebrate success at any level; it can light a fire of passion toward the mission and vision of your organization. Dave Workman | The Elemental Group Adapted from “Elemental Leaders: Four Essentials Every Leader Needs...and Every Church Must Have”.


The Elemental Churches Inventory guides your leadership team through a multi-faceted review of strengths and opportunities in four vital elements of your church’s life: Integrity (systems, processes, infrastructure), Passion (commitment to the mission), Servanthood (outward-focus), and Imagination (innovation, openness to change). And because of its unique web-based and curriculum approach, it’s a third of the cost of typical consulting!


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