Stakeholders – Part II

Stakeholders – Part II

We are a community in mission together.  It is the mission that drives our community.  And it is a commitment to that mission that holds our community together.  Stakeholders are people who have something at stake in that mission.  They have been tested by the trials and hardships of the mission.  And they have paid a price.  And they know that many have come before them who have paid a price for them to have the opportunity to serve.  They are people who understand the mission and are personally INVESTED in it.  Most importantly, they are people who actively participate in it. Every person who has a vote in the community is actively involved in a mission that reaches outside of our doors.  They give their time and their talent in hands-on ways in labor in the mission.  We don’t have anyone whose role is simply to tell other people what to do.  All leadership is leadership from the front, by example, or it is not leadership at all. Participation means participating at the cutting edge of the mission itself.  It does not simply mean Sunday morning attendance.

We are a community that shares the burden of mission.  It requires funding to carry out the mission.  Stakeholders are mature enough believers to understand that reality. Stakeholders understand how the community is connected to the mission, and how the mission is connected to the life of the community.  If one ceases to be, so does the other. They understand that it is not magic that keeps the lights on. They are financially invested.   But there are aspects to their giving that sets them apart.  Stakeholders understand that whatever they give (and it doesn’t matter how much) belongs to God.  It belonged to God before they gave it.  So, they aren’t giving THEIR money.  They are giving back to God what was God’s to begin with.  Stakeholders do not leverage their generosity to further their own interests or agenda.  They don’t vote with their checkbook. They understand that even generosity itself is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Giving is always between the stakeholder and God, but there are characteristics of giving that stakeholders have in common.  Stakeholders know that the life of the mission and the community is sustained because others besides themselves have sacrificed from their families to keep them alive. They are careful with the community because the community has cost others much and they respect the sacrifice of others as well as their own sacrifices. Knowing what the community and its mission has cost others, stakeholders have a reverence about them.   Stakeholders consider their giving a part of their personal budget.  They give in a scheduled way.  They give out of the first fruits rather than what’s left after they have purchased what they want to purchase.  Their giving isn’t the first thing cut in tough times.  It is among the last things cut in tough times.  For stakeholders, giving is an act of faith.

We do not, and will not ever, publish giving.  Publishing giving is manipulative and not Biblical, and we do not give in to that temptation no matter how effective it might be.  In fact, the people who know what was pledged do not know what was actually given.  Financial trustees who know what was given, do not know what was pledged.  In fact, pledges are anonymous.  We do everything in our power to keep giving private.  But stakeholders give.  They give generously and in a spiritually mature way.  It would not be fair in the least bit to have a person who gives nothing have the same vote as someone who has sacrificed much.  We are all in this together.  And that togetherness is evidenced in shared burden and shared sacrifice.  We must all be both the object AND the subject of the mission.  Rich and poor.  We all give back to God what was God’s to begin with.

Stakeholders know the people in the community.  They pray for them by name regularly.  They know the events of their lives.  They know what brings them joy and what haunts their dreams.  They live life together.  Stakeholders make it their business to know what is going on on the calendar.  They know because they make it their business to know.  They know what missions are happening and when they are happening because they are committed to praying for them.  Things happen too fast in the mission for our community to always be flawless in our communication.  We don’t always have time to publish things seven different ways to make sure everyone knows everything.  Stakeholders know people and they know events because they know it is their responsibility to be connected enough to find out.  One excellent way to do that is to attend worship on a fairly regular basis.  That’s where prayer concerns and mission opportunities are announced.  It’s where we check in with each other.  It’s where we meet.  It’s where the body comes to together.  Stakeholders may not be found in worship every Sunday.  But they are there enough to stay deeply connected to the larger community, to one another, and to the mission and vision of the community. Stakeholders do not neglect the assembly.

Stakeholders are learners and growers.  Part of being invested means that we do not know everything, and that a part of what we are called to do is to grow TOGETHER. “Know-it-alls” tear communities apart.  They create an unsafe environment.  Our community has to be a place where it is safe to not have it all figured out.  Our community will not be a place where what you know gives you power.  We try very hard to make it a place where power is reserved for Christ alone.  We are all both broken and gifted.  We are all both competent and still learning.  Stakeholders seek personal and spiritual growth.  They are hungry for it.  They attend Bible studies and prayer groups.  They see every learning opportunity as a gift from God.  And they share what they learn without ever leveraging it for position or personal gain or status.  We all have the same status – disciple, learner, novice, student.  No matter how old; no matter how experienced; we are all growing.  God is not finished with us yet.  We grow and learn together.  Stakeholders – people who are INVESTED in the vision and mission of the community – are actively involved in personal and spiritual growth activities and opportunities on a regular basis.

If a person is involved in the life and mission of the community in these ways, it is safe to say that if the community ceased to be, it would impact their lives significantly.  As such, they should have a vote. They should have a say.  And they do.  Who gets to say whether a person is living this way? They do. The individual does. Wonderful, generous, compassionate, and mature followers of Christ do so for themselves.  And we trust the Holy Spirit to guide them in their decision. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom ruled by conscience or it is petty dictatorship, and of no value at all.

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