Mar. 26, 2018.

By Leadership Development Team Chair Craig Bennett.

This year we’ve heard a different congregant share their story each Sunday – a brief expression of their experience at UUCF, maybe what brought them here, what kept them here, what motivates or inspires them. These members are, as Ian Hochberg said, “all in” with their commitment to this community, and they’ve shared their stories as an expression of gratitude. Often these stories relate how a member became involved in some aspect of UUCF and ended up receiving something much greater than what they originally expected from investing their time and effort. I’ve stopped being surprised at how rewarding these opportunities to serve usually are for me, even (and especially) when it was something I only grudgingly agreed to in the first place. Usually, this is because I was lifted up and supported by other congregants who were on the journey with me. Viewing oneself as all in can result in unexpected opportunities for personal and professional growth. When we’re all in together, well, that’s magic.

Rev. Erik Wikstrom writes about what he calls the spirituality of service in his book “Serving with Grace.” We often assume people come to church for a sense of belonging and to feel more connected, but it’s more than that: We come to have our lives transformed. Rev. Wikstrom asks us to imagine church not as a place led by a few overly taxed people but one where leadership is a broadly shared ministry that community members undertake for the deep joy of it. Lay leadership can be its own spiritual practice, and can stretch you in new directions. And in our predominately volunteer community, there are many ways to be a leader. Certainly, serving on the Board of Directors, Coordinating Team, Lay Ministry Council, chairing the Annual Giving Campaign or the Auction or chairing a committee are obvious ways to serve in the shared ministry of our community.

Thinking back on the past 15 years of my membership at UUCF, I am truly grateful for the leadership shown by those involved in less visible ways – those who taught my children in RE, those on the Pastoral Care Team who helped when life has thrown me a curveball, those who contribute their musical talents making Sunday mornings transcendent, those who come together to create a Vespers or an earth-based, seasonal ritual that helps center me amid the chaos of daily life, and those who lead us in social justice efforts that help make the world a better place.

Just getting involved isn’t enough. You need to be all in to be transformed. That means more than just being nominally involved – having some skin in the game, committing to something outside one’s comfort zone – this is when service to our congregation can become a transformative spiritual practice. These are the experiences that have made me most grateful that UUCF exists. So whether the Nominating Committee is courting you to serve in an elected leadership position for next year, you’re considering teaching in RE or you are contemplating your financial commitment to the Annual Giving Campaign, view your service and commitment as a spiritual practice. Put some skin in the game – let’s all be all in for this beloved community we create together.