Mark Defining Moments in Your Ministry with Celebration and Anticipation

There’s a tension that exists whenever God has moved greatly in the life of a person or church. It’s the tension between looking back and looking forward.

Celebration and anticipation.
Both must exist. Together.

But what usually happens is we specialize in one of them at the expense of the other. Some people really celebrate what God has done, but they don’t anticipate the next thing He wants to do. Others really anticipate what God’s going to do, but they don’t celebrate what He’s done.

According to the way God wants it done, He commands both.
Commemoration is equal parts celebration and anticipation.

You can see this in Joshua 4 when God tells the Israelites to put down stones in order to commemorate their passing through the Jordan River. The purpose was for it to be a reminder of how God had led the people through the desert for forty years and through the Jordan. It was a symbol for what He had done.

But it was also looking forward to the Promised Land and taking possession of it. It was a symbol for what He was about to do.

Celebration and anticipation belong together and flow into one another. And we need to be good at both.

It seems trivial, but it’s not. I believe this is one of the main reasons Elevation has seen God move mightily in the past five years. We make every attempt to celebrate passionately and adequately when God blows us away. But we also really try to anticipate how He is going to blow us away next and plan accordingly.

We’re trying to live in the tension. You need to as well.

Some of you are too busy dreaming about where God is taking you next to appreciate how far He has taken you recently. Stop for a moment and celebrate.

Others of you are so busy celebrating what God has done in your life that you’ve yet to realize it’s just a taste of what He still has to do in you and through you. Stop for a moment and anticipate.

Commemoration is equal parts celebration and anticipation. Learn how to do both well and don’t be surprised when God gives you more things to commemorate.

Read more from Steven here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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Conscious Culture

The missional visionary is also a cultural architect. One of the basic foundation principles of Church Unique is the assertion that each church has a unique culture. While walking through the Vision Pathway, we emphasize the importance of close observation and listening in order to better understand the surrounding culture, and of unlocking the past in order to unleash the future. The leader shapes the culture with the Vision Frame, informed by the Kingdom Concept. Transforming the future is made possible because the cultural perspective is held in conscious view.

The starting point of developing a conscious culture is contained in the following three principles.

First, remember that the Scriptures reveal God’s signature.

Whatever the leader draws attention to and rallies support for, he must show the signature of God behind the appeal. The Vision Frame must be squarely and repeatedly illuminates with God’s Word. The visionary must always point back to the Original Visioneer .

Look for the passages that fuel your passion, enlarge your own vision, inform your values, and distinguish your strength as a church. Master the exposition of these texts. Then look for opportunities to ooze the vision through the pages of Scripture everywhere you go. Whenever and wherever the vision speaks, your job is to make sure God’s voice is heard.

Second, use your congregation’s folklore to tell the story.

The leader who shapes culture understands that not all stories are created equal. Folklore is a special class of story – stories that speak so fundamentally and clearly to the church’s vision that they have to be told, retold, and told again.

Life is narrative. As humans, we are hardwired to live from and respond to the stories of our lives. Story is an indispensable tool for communicating on a heart-to-heart level; for communicating things like values, passion, convictions, history and vision.

All preachers are familiar with story as either an illustrative tool or message construct for the preaching event. But it is also important to view storytelling on a broader level as a tool for creating culture. Creating culture requires the identification and development of special stories or folklore that serve as foundations, identity-shaping stories within the leadership culture. The texture and color of the culture is then pained artistically by the telling and retelling of these stories.

Finally, understand that symbols mark defining moments.

A symbol is a visible sign of something invisible. The term literally contains the idea of “throwing together” – associating something intangible with something concrete. A lion for example, is a concrete and visible way of representing the invisible, intangible idea of courage. For the leader, expression of old familiar symbols and creation of new ones can shape a culture.

One of the reasons new symbols are so important is that they cultivate a shared memory. As your vision unfolds and you see God’s work, let the use of symbols mark the moment and foster a shared memory. This memory glues the community together and multiplies the values defined by the memory.

As the leader lives the vision and speaks into the church’s culture, symbols – visible signs and symbolic acts – become powerful tools. What is the most important symbol? Does the identifying mark of your church open a door to tell a story.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Culture Trumps Everything

Martin Luther referred to the gospel as “this article.” He said, “Most necessary is that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” Luther knew that we have this proclivity to wander from our foundation. Thus we must constantly and continually beat the gospel into our hearts and into the people we serve and lead. To drill the gospel into the heads of our people, we need more than our confessions and our creeds to be centered on the gospel. We need the culture of our churches to stand firmly on Jesus and His work for us.

The culture of a church is powerful. It dominates everything else. It is constantly teaching, constantly showing people what is most important. By culture, I am not referring to a church’s ethnic or socio-economic mix. I am referring to the shared values and beliefs that undergird all the church does. And while your doctrinal statement, your strategy for reaching your community, and your leadership structure are important, in many ways your church culture trumps them all. For example:

If the doctrine of the church is that all believers are priests and ministers because our great high priest has made us priests through His death, yet the culture of the church values only “professional ministers” – the culture will trump the doctrinal confession. A pastor preaching Ephesians 4:11-12 one time will not automatically remove the unrealistic and unbiblical expectation that the pastor is the one who does all the ministry.

If the doctrine of the church is the true and accurate belief that the sacrifice of Jesus is bigger than any sin, yet the culture does not allow for openness and confession, someone who admits a struggle will be unlikely to experience mercy expressed from another. A graceless culture overpowers a grace-filled confession.

If the doctrine of the church is we are to live as missionaries because Jesus stepped into our culture to rescue us, but the culture of the church focuses almost exclusively on the church calendar and what happens in the building – the culture will attempt to squelch and suffocate desires to serve the surrounding community.

Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He was not diminishing strategy. He was simply recognizing the overwhelming influence culture has on people. If the culture of a church is at odds with the doctrinal confession of the church, the culture typically wins. The unstated message speaks louder than the stated one.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.