The other day I had prepared a devotional to share during the closing session at the Hinton Center Board meeting. As sometimes happens, another session ran over and I didn’t get to share the devo, so I thought it would be good to modify for my blog. I mean, why write something completely different when this is ready and waiting?!
As we are preparing for summer missions here, we have been thinking a lot about our ministry, our purpose and our mission statement. I think it’s good to regularly ask ourselves how we embrace our mission here at Hinton Center? I think it’s good for our staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and all of our “extended friends” of Hinton Center.
A good place to start is in reviewing the mission statement: Inspired by Jesus Christ, Hinton Rural Life Center’s purpose is to engage individuals, congregations and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach.
Not only do we review the mission statement, but even more so – we look at it through the lens of scripture – God’s Holy, Living Word:
Romans 12: 1 – 11 CEB says
12 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. 2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.
3 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. 4 We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. 5 In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. 6 We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. 7 If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. 8 If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.
9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!
If I could spend just a few minutes unpacking this passage…there’s a lot here that we could dwell on… but think about this verse: don’t be conformed by the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature.
What if we take this a step further and think about some of the patterns of this world. I’m not talking politics or hot button issues either (we see enough of that already)… I’m talking about some of the patterns we live into in our lives – you know the patterns – the “this is the way we’ve always done it” conversations.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking tradition. But I am wondering if one of the patterns of this world we can fall into – that can leave us trapped – is the pattern of doing things for the sake that they’ve always been done. You’ve never experienced that before, right?
Seriously though, think about it. It’s easy to keep doing what we’ve always done because it’s familiar and comfortable. It’s easy to fall into this habit – this pattern of the world.
Yet, if we are stuck in the way it’s always been, it’s hard for us to be transformed, to experience the renewing of our mind, because we don’t even think there’s anything there to change.
Really, you can apply this to any ministry or any part of your life, but to focus on what we do here, we have to look at the mission of Hinton Center – and the ministries and programs that we do – really, truly look at them and run them through this lens of figuring out what God might be calling us to do.
We can ask ourselves how we’re most able to engage individuals, congregations and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach.
The scripture then goes on to talk about how we are all a part of the body of Christ and we each have our gifts and our strengths that we bring to the table. We are all here, all invested in the ministries and direction of Hinton Center, and we all bring specific gifts. One of my favorite quotes – and one that is on our tool shed here at Hinton in a similar form is – God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. We may not know we’re gifted in specific ways until we have an opportunity to use the gifts – to bring them to God and see what ways they can be used. When we work together, think of what good things we can accomplish!
Finally, the scripture calls us to love, and to serve God ardently – with enthusiasm! Not because we “have to” or “should” but because we WANT to. That’s one thing I noticed last night – you seem to be excited about the mission and ministries of Hinton Center. I know our staff is… we need to remember to cling to that when we’re feeling a bit tired, overwhelmed, and worn.
So let’s summarize a bit:
- Not to get stuck in the way of the world, or in the rut of the way it’s always been done…
- Add in some people with individual gifts and strengths
- As we hold onto love and we serve God with enthusiasm…
I think we have here a great way to look at all that we do – personally, at our churches, and here at Hinton.
Re-read the mission statement:
Inspired by Jesus Christ, Hinton Rural Life Center’s purpose is to engage individuals,
congregations and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach.
So with the formula outlined from scripture: not to get stuck in the way of the world + people with different gifts to offer + holding on to love and serving God with enthusiasm, we can ask ourselves again: What does it mean for us to engage individuals, congregations and communities in transformation through retreat and outreach?
How are our interactions with guests, the neighbors we serve, and our community transforming? How are we making a difference?
And what is your part in making a difference here at Hinton Center?