[Note: This November, I’ve invited members of our vision team to share their reflections on parts of Conejo’s 20-year vision description that are especially meaningful to them. This week, John Downey shares on “being actively equipped for service.” Andy Wall]
When we started our visioning process, a member of our team made a statement of concern that our church could become in-facing and irrelevant in our community. In this scenario we become less and less valuable as a body of people as we concern ourselves with providing service to ourselves, alone. As this insular story plays out, we die on the vine. This concern was not a single driving force in our visioning, but it struck me as being plausible and simultaneously as something I have no desire to be a part of.
Equipped for service. We are! And we do. We are an outfacing body and we are desirous of being God’s ongoing blessing to our immediate and far flung communities. I’ve only once been on the trip to Mexico to build a home, but that ability to serve has been met with commitment, year after year for as long as I’ve been a part of this church. This is only one of so many examples of our efforts to be a service to others, sharing the good news of God’s grace as we go.
You may hear some pessimism about our preparedness for service. When we are actively equipped for service, we can be God’s ongoing blessing. I would rather you read that as humility. When we worked up the vision description we recognized that we don’t have all of the answers for the future needs of members and community. In 2003, we probably didn’t imagine carrying multiple translations of the Bible (and commentaries) on devices in our pocket. The need for action in becoming equipped is our way of saying that our body will need to dedicate resources to growing to meet the challenges that lie ahead, some of which we can’t exactly imagine. This could include some of us going back to school or hiring staff with talents which we don’t already have. There might very well be budgetary implications for becoming “actively equipped”.
God has created us to live in community with each other and service to others above self, therefore, is something that should come naturally to us all. We, of course, are also pulled to be self-serving and this is who we are in our weakest moments. Our vision description is aspirational. We choose to see ourselves at our best, living out our calling to bless others, just as we have been blessed.
I’ve witnessed the service work of our church as being intergenerational and I see opportunity for that to grow. Service to others is a healthy antidote to loneliness. People need other people and intergenerational collaboration in service would be a beautiful example of God’s blessing on us being shared with our community. Service to others above self has long been a hallmark of Christianity, when we are living out our calling, and I believe it will carry our church to a healthy place over the next twenty years. .