“It’s National Apple Cobbler Day!” I proudly announced as I dropped a dish of said dessert on the center of my dining table. We were hosting friends for dinner, and as the smell of cooling cobbler filled the room, I saw the couple exchange a glance. I know I’m cheesy and somewhat simple when it comes to being gleeful about little things, but in that moment, I felt a little dumb for being so excited about the fanfare. Then the husband said, “We should really celebrate little things more.”
The conversation that followed between us four adults, as the children went on a sugar-fueled destruction of the playroom, was one I won’t forget and also one I never considered. How is it that we look only for the BIG “wins” and lose sight of the small victories in ministry? How do we miss that celebrating the simple, not only honors God, but dramatically affects our perspective for the good?
Celebrate from Example
Imagine a church plant of 25. Let’s say by the end of the second month, there are now 40 gathering regularly. Is that not worth celebrating? Do we take a pause to feel what that means, or do we instead look ahead to the ministry attendance goal for one year and view this grace as another tick mark along the way?
What about the church of 100 where three families faithfully invited non-believing friends, family, and co-workers over the summer months and as a result, five people met Jesus and were baptized? Are we thrilled about that, excited for the saving of the lost, the maturity of those families, and the wonder that the local church is changed because of it? Or are we looking at the downtrend in giving for the summer months and how the next sermon series really needs to drive home the importance of cheerful giving?
Did we forget along the way that when one person repents there is “joy before the angels of God”? (Luke 15:10) Stop and think about that for a minute. One person in your megachurch sea of 2000 repents and the angels freaking REJOICE! Yet, you can’t be bothered to do more than smile and mutter a half-felt, “Praise Jesus” as you look to the launch of three new ministries and the projected “fruit” your elder team hopes to reap as a result.
Celebrate Because God is Good
I’m not saying stop the world from turning to celebrate the seemingly small wins for God’s Kingdom. But I am saying do indeed stop and celebrate the individual events for what they are. Not to revel in a man-made achievement, but to celebrate our Risen King. To celebrate the overtaking of darkness, no matter how slow the pace, because darn it, the darkness is being forced to retreat and it will never overtake that ground again (John 1:5). When did we start becoming so passive about the mightiness of God in the small parts of our ministry? Because we all truly know the small parts are the important ones. The details are where the devil is, as the colloquialism goes, and if we’ve got the small parts, how much more then do we have the big ones?
Do we need to bust out the disco ball and champagne for every apparent victory in Christ? Probably not. But we do need to stop being so jaded and cynical to God’s power at work in and amongst his saints and the lost. We have to stop taking that for granted and allow ourselves to get giddy, to actually smile when there is good news – like smile so big it can be seen through the back of your head, to throw around some high-fives and mean them, to truly marvel in the moment. Yes, there is always more work to do. Yes, there are countless more lost to be found, more believers in need of discipleship, horror and hardship in the world, and a growing laundry list of repairs to be made that there isn’t room in the budget for. But God hasn’t forgotten those things either. And you know what, he’s rejoicing too (Zephaniah 3:17) so why aren’t you?
Celebrate as an Example
What does it show our children, other believers, and the lost when they see us reveling in the goodness of God always? I mean always. If you really think about the frequency of those “little” ministry wins you realize they are happening constantly. Does the idea of celebrating constantly weary you? It shouldn’t. That’s eternity. And isn’t that what we get to live out of now? How much less daunting are the tasks ahead when we actively enjoy the victories along the way?
In the immortal words of Cool and the Gang, “We’re gonna have a good time tonight. Let’s celebrate. It’s all right.” Yes, it is all right to celebrate and let us do that now and not postpone that celebration until it fits in better with the service order or even necessarily wait until Sunday morning. (No wonder people get jaded to victory.) No, we will celebrate the work of Holy Spirit through his people as it is happening. Actually pause, rejoice, revel, and treat the victories with importance, you don’t even need a dessert or contrived holiday. Celebrate because you can.