If you’re like me, you probably don’t know what Fastnacht day is or why it’s such a big deal. I learned about it as I moved to South Central PA a few years ago. Here’s what I’ve read from the “locals” about Fastnacht day, “It’s a Dutch tradition that was designed as a way to empty the pantry of sugar, fat, butter and lard. Those are items that people traditionally fast from during Lent.” You can read a lttle more about it on Wikipedia, and follow people who “celebrate” on the Fastnacht FaceBook Page.
Does it hold the same meaning today? For some people it might, but for most, it is a tradition that they do because they’ve always done it and it brings back memories of days gone by.
Days like this get me thinking about the things we do in church, in ministry, in our Awana clubs…
Do we do things because we’ve always done it? I have heard of clubs that do the same theme nights every year and have for several years. I like to say that it feels good to get in a groove, but if you stay there too long, it becomes a rut and loses its meaning and impact.
Next, take a look at the impact the events we do have on others and if they meet the purpose we held them. When I see the articles and local news reports for Fastnacht Day, it is generally filled with laughter and a yummy treat. The masses do not know the history or why these donuts are made special today. I would venture to say that most purchase additional supplies, so they can eliminate them from the home, as the tradition began. Is that really the purpose? Do you use “traditional” events to get people to the church? Do we try to change the meanings of things to justify it just to bring people “in the door”? Things like Halloween, Easter Egg hunts, Santa, etc? When they leave, do they say what a good time they had, with an increased awareness of what God (and Jesus) has done for them, or solidified in the meaningless tradition they’ve held? What is the purpose of the event? Fundraising, fellowship, having a high attendance, reaching people for Christ, having a better event than the church down the street? What is the reason for the event and did you accomplish it?
So on this Fastnacht Day (Fat Tuesday, or whatever you want to call it), I encourage you to evaluate your ministries. Ask yourself these questions when planning:
- Why? – Why are we doing this?
- What? – What message are we sending to the non-believing (and believing) community?
- Is it glorifying God?
And then after the event, evaluate it. Evaluation is important and does not mean that an event was a failure. As the club year comes to a close, evaluate it (I have some basic forms on the web site) and see what has worked well, and what can be tweaked for the next year.