Over the past few weeks I have been offering ways to unearth all of your congregation's gifts so that you can fully name who you are, what you do well, and what God might be nudging you to consider. Once the gifts have been identified and their current uses assessed through the survey and congregational conversations, it is time to celebrate these strengths! Chances are that your congregation will be floored by the volume of previously-unnamed blessings, providing your church with a reason to be hopeful about the future, fodder for some real creativity, and a much clearer sense of what pastoral leadership is needed. (Hope, innovation, and clarity can be big boons for a transitional season that is often very anxious.)
Here are some of the ways you can celebrate the full range of gifts:
Create a visual display of all the gifts and ministries gathered from the surveys, congregational storytelling, compilation of financial, physical, relational, and leadership gifts, and committee reflections. Ask one or more people who enjoy making art and/or organizing information to help with this task. Make all of the information movable so that it can be rearranged. Put the display in a high-traffic area where most church members will be able to see it over the course of a few weeks.
Use a number of communication means to point people to it, such as:
Moving the display around the building when events take place on different parts of the church campus.
Taking photos of the display and sending them to church members who cannot be physically present.
Creating one or more liturgies out of the gifts for use in worship.
Preaching or giving brief testimonies about various gifts or ministries.
Interviewing members with previously hidden or unusual gifts for the church newsletter.
As part of the display, write the following prompts and include space and writing utensils for people to respond to the following:
What surprises us?
What delights us?
What challenges us?
As we look at these gifts, what are we realizing about our congregation?
As we look at these gifts, what do we believe God might be saying to us?
On the display or at a congregational event, ask people to group gifts that complement one another or that could potentially be put together in new ways for greater impact. (For example, the church has a patch of unused land, a couple of adults with a propensity for gardening, and a youth group looking for a mission project. These could be combined into the creation of a vegetable garden, with the proceeds to be donated to a local food bank, or a flower garden, with the flowers taken by youth to people in nearby nursing homes.)
Celebrating the gifts will open hearts and minds to new possibilities, and getting curious about the gifts will start to move the process from naming strengths to generating excitement about the future.