If you know me, you know I’m not much for building. I can photoshop a wall into a photo like a pro, but actually building it and making it sturdy is another story altogether. Although I don’t specialize in building, I do a lot of building at Awaken, not sheetrock and studs, but stories and celebrations.
In Joshua 4, after God leads His people through the miraculously dried up Jordan River, He instructs them to go back into the river, dig up some stones, and stack them outside of the river. The goal was for them to be “a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” In other words, God never wanted them to forget how faithful He had been.
Even though Awaken is only four years old, I’ve learned the value and necessity to continually build monuments for our church. In fact, it’s written into some of the core beliefs of Awaken:
Monuments Drive the Movement. We intentionally take time to remember and celebrate God’s faithfulness. Our past victories are vital for future success, and being used by God is a privilege and honor that we will never take for granted.
From the pulpit, I regularly encourage the church to build their own personal monuments in creative ways. It can be through journaling, drawing, letter writing, or any number of other creative ways. Tweet it, sketch it, journal it, but whatever you do, don’t forget it!
I encourage them to do it personally and with their families, but we also do it in a few different ways as a church:
Throughout our building, you’ll see “Monument Pictures” hanging on the wall. We try to take some of the pictures that capture an event or experience well, and use that as a monument to tell a story. In our foyer, you’ll see pictures of outreach events, as well as our flooded sanctuary (that we survived), baptisms, and more.
We make a big deal out of baptisms by filming them and playing a recap video in service the following weekend, taking pictures of everyone, keeping a count of how many people we baptized, and even giving out free shirts to everyone who got baptized. Those are all simple ways of making the day memorable. We also periodically throw big parties for our Team Members (anyone serving in ministry) to remind them of how thankful we are for them.
Periodically, after a big event, outreach, or milestone (after the Flood or for our birthday), we will dedicate an entire weekend to celebrating what God did. We’ll show pictures, video, hear stories, and more. At our birthdays, we also compile stats and numbers from each ministry and compile it all to serve as a numeric monument. It all points back to God and how honored we are to be a part of what He’s doing.
“The Monument Page” on our website is a place anyone can go to share a story of how the church has impacted their life. Those are emailed to the pastors, and eventually, they’ll be published for all to read and celebrate.
We train our Ministry Leaders to invest in their teams and to celebrate with their teams when they see God do great things in their midst. Sometimes that is as simple as a quick meeting and prayer, or it could be a trip to grab ice cream or gift cards for the whole team. However it happens, we believe celebrating is serious business!
We fight hard against forgetfulness so that we stay focused on God’s faithfulness!