by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          October 31, 2019

You’ve been hearing it for a while now:

Be the change..

This, of course, is a truncated version of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” By saying this, Gandhi was challenging us to not wait around for the world to change, but rather to be the change agent that transforms the world. After all, every significant change begins with one person.

Although you were introduced to this quote through our stewardship campaign, it will soon be taking on a larger role in our church’s life. In October the Church Council decided to make this quote not only our stewardship theme, but the focus for our current program year.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

The Council’s decision to embrace an “annual focus” came out of our fall visioning meeting, which, in turn, followed up on our “What is our why?” conversations from last spring and summer. It was our hope back then that by defining our overall purpose as a church, our why, we would find direction and focus for our various ministries. However, after much discussion, we decided that adopting an “annual focus” would be more effective at guiding our efforts than adopting another overarching “statement”. We already have wonderful Mission, Covenant, and Welcoming statements. Did we really need another one?

Before we decided what our focus ought to be, we discussed the earmarks of a quality focus statement. We determined a focus ought to:

  • provide focus to our members and ministries
  • involve many different people
  • be engaging, inspiring, exciting, BOLD, and different
  • appeal to people with diverse gifts
  • be outward focused, and bring people in
  • be simple, easy to communicate and remember
  • be a challenge, and stretch each of us

We then brainstormed numerous options for our focus. We came up with ideas such as Open Doors, Extravagant Welcome, and Greening Our Church among many others. We nearly settled on Bridging the Divide, which we hoped would provide meaningful actions and conversations on what it means to be the church in a society that is currently deeply divided on so many issues However, in the end, the Council chose to embrace our stewardship theme and carry it through the rest of the year.

In our stewardship campaign, we are celebrating how each of our gifts go forth to bring about necessary change in the lives of our neighbors, communities, and world. You are being God’s change agent when you give to the church and the church uses those gifts to usher in the Kingdom of God on earth.

By adopting this focus for the present year, the Council is challenging us to ask how we are being the change in other ways. This challenge extends to our committees, teams, and to each of us as individuals. It challenges us to ask, “How am I (are we) being the change that God wants to see in the world?” “What specifically have I(we) done today, or this week/month, to bring about positive change?

Of course, a focus statement does no good if it is filed away and forgotten. In that case, we ought not to have wasted our time. But the council intends to take time each month to ask itself these very questions. Remember, in order to relevant, we said that a focus ought to be bold, exciting, outward focused, and stretch us in new ways. That’s quite a daunting task!

So what do you think? Did the council do a good job in picking an annual focus? How are you, or the team you serve on, living up to it? Is there something you could do differently today to make a change in the world? What do you think we ought to consider as our focus for next year?

In the meantime:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.