I ran across a great tool for intentional interim ministers leading congregations through the heritage focus point. My husband’s church is undergoing a visioning/renewal process, and the leadership team for this process was asked to create an Ebenezer:
Ebenezer literally means “stone of help,” and it refers to Samuel’s placement of a marker that witnessed to God’s faithfulness (I Samuel 7:12). It signified the Israelites’ recognition of God’s constant presence with them up until the Ebenezer’s dedication. It was a visual reminder that the Israelites were purposefully entering a new era in their relationship with God.
In the heritage focus point, a congregation in transition acknowledges, celebrates, and grieves its history up until the current moment. Churches cannot move forward without first looking backward, noting where God has been at work all along and bringing closure to old hurts. After an intentional interim minister and transition team lead the congregation through their exercises of choice to accomplish these goals, I can see where it would be healing and hopeful for everyone to work together on creating an Ebenezer. Such a visual would mark the move from hindsight to foresight, and it could be incorporated into liturgical design or placed in a high-traffic area of the church as a sign that the always-faithful God is about to do a new thing.