by Andrea Hesterberg
Church Development Coordinator, IBC Düsseldorf, Germany
When I was asked to write an article about Celebrating Church, I was excited right away and thought: “Yes, of course! We have a lot to celebrate!” Despite and even in contrast to all the bad news coming from all over the world these days, our local church in Düsseldorf, Germany, is thriving with growing numbers, stable finances, many kids, and active ministries.
But what exactly are we celebrating, when we say, “We celebrate church”? In Acts 2:41-47 we can read about the fellowship of the believers. It says “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
So according to Scripture, we should celebrate good teaching and when people accept the message of Christ and get baptized. We at IBCD were able to celebrate the baptisms of 15 people this year and have good biblical teaching every week. What a blessing!
We should celebrate fellowship and prayer as well as miracles God performs in our lives. When we walk closely with each other as fellow believers, we can share big and small miracles, and we can support each other when God does not answer our prayers in the ways we would like. It is the arm of a friend or a note sent with love that helps us know we are not alone and others are caring and praying for us. That is where church can even be celebrated in tough times.
We should celebrate by giving our possessions to those in need – yes, we saw that happening at our church in Düsseldorf this year as well, when we had several teams of volunteers who gave their time, energy, and money to go to Antakya, Turkey, to bring help and hope to earthquake victims.
We should meet with glad and sincere hearts, praising God together – yes, we do that on a weekly basis during our worship services, but also during the week as brothers and sisters in Christ meet in homegroups, breakfast events, or grow groups.
This year we celebrated our 30-year anniversary at IBC Düsseldorf, and we celebrated the new beginning of our sister church in Essen, along with celebrating 65 years of the IBC. Those are big milestones we praise God for!
Celebrating Church is not only the big milestones, but it is also the many things always happening at church, even in the little things, where we see God at work within our congregation. We celebrate our children’s ministry team who teach God’s word to our children every week in fun and interactive ways! We celebrate our deacons ministry who organize meals, visits, and other support for those going through a hard time! We celebrate our homeless ministry team who reach out to those living in the streets of our city to give them hope! We celebrate our AV team who make it possible to continue live streaming our worship services for those who are sick at home! We celebrate our worship music teams who lead us in praise every week! And many more….
I thank God for our ministry coordinators who attend regular trainings, hold regular team meetings or huddles, and keep things going every week so we can be a “home away from home” for many in the Düsseldorf area – Yes, I celebrate YOU!
Our church’s vision statement is summed up in the 5 Cs, which is a continuous loop as we at IBCD want to reach the nations and make disciples by: being a place where people 1. Celebrate God, become 2. Connected to the Body of Christ, 3. Commit to growth and being equipped to 4. Care for revealed needs within the church and outside the church and learn to 5. Communicate the Gospel and about IBCD so more people can come join us and Celebrate God….
It is important to us to not reach out to others or celebrate life milestones alone, but to do this in community with other believers. In order to create a healthy community, we are intentional about how we follow up with newcomers, how we integrate new attendees, and how we train and disciple those serving in our ministries. We celebrate everyone who is part of our church!
If you feel like there is not so much to celebrate right now because your church is struggling, remember all the good things that are happening that you can still be thankful for and celebrate your church. If you would like some help to strengthen your church, your ministry work, or your leadership, I can recommend that you reach out to the IBC Strengthening Churches Team. Just send a quick email to email@example.com. We at IBCD did that in 2021. With God’s grace, going through the ReFresh process and other tools from the Malphurs Group has helped us so much to be in a healthy place where we can celebrate our church in Düsseldorf from the bottom of our hearts.