Went to see my adult children and grandchildren this Thanksgiving week. It was a blast! In preparation for a morning outing with my 5 year old twin grandsons I bought, bubbles for blowing, a kite for flying, and a frisbee for throwing. The bubbles proved too messy and unreliable, the kite proved to be distant and sometimes not flyable but the frisbee was a hit! The boys loved throwing the frisbee with Grandpa John. The reason? Affirmation. I would throw the frisbee to one of the boys. If they didn't catch it I would say "That was a bad throw by grandpa John. I will do better." If the frisbee hit their hands and dropped to the ground I would say "Almost! That was almost a great catch!" If they would actually catch the frisbee and hang on I would say "Super catch! Terrific! You are not only really smart but you are strong AND a good catch!" Both boys had a wide grin, healthy laugh, and never got tired of playing with the frisbee.
Churches are like that. We forget how powerful affirmation is for 5 year olds and how important affirmation is for congregations. The church I currently serve does a terrific job in paying attention to older adults in the congregation. home calls, visits, prayer lists, no one is forgotten. This church also has set up a fellowship hour with coffee and refreshments after worship that allows an opportunity for practicing radical hospitality. I never fail to tell the people what activities in ministry they do really well. When, as pastor, the congregation hears from me the things they do well, they grin, some laugh, and everyone seems energized to do even more. When congregations catch the frisbees of ministry, as a leader, be sure to tell the people "Super catch, you are smart, strong, and a good catch too."