What’s in a Mission?
Posted June 15, 2013on:
Let’s break that down.
Simple Living Works! equips people of faith to
Consumerism. That’s our national religion! It tells us every day that you will find happiness and meaning in life though stuff. That thing you bought, it didn’t work for you. Oh, I’m so sorry. Here try this instead. That didn’t work? Here, try this instead. The purpose of most commercial advertising is to keep the customers perpetually dissatisfied. . . so they will continue to fill their own personal spiritual voids with stuff.
We tell a different story. We will find happiness and meaning in life through relationships. There are four basic relationships. The first one is with ourselves, getting to know ourselves honestly in a culture that is full of self deception. The second is our relationship with our friends and colleagues. . . people here in the church, people we work with, our relatives, and hopefully a few brothers and sisters around the globe. The third relationship is with God’s creation. Being good stewards of the soil, the air, the water, as well as the animals and plants. And the fourth, the most important one, of course, is our relationship with God. Those relationships will give us happiness and meaning in life. Stuff gives us a thrill when we get something new. But over the long haul it disappoints.
Let’s make an important distinction between charity and justice because some people think they are the same. Charity is when we give our money and our time to help meet people’s short term needs or to work for worthwhile causes. Very important work. Justice is different. Justice is when we work to change the system that makes charity necessary.
There are three basic ways that we can work for justice. The first one is to work to change political policies. I’ve heard a rumor that there are a few policies in this country that can stand changing. The second one is to work to change corporate procedures. We can do that by applauding those corporations that are beginning to work for the sustainability of the Earth and we can decry those businesses that continue to gobble up the Earth. Even boycott them! Let’s focus on the third. That’s to look at our own life styles because all things are connected. Our buying decisions do have an impact on people around the world. So the third one is our primary focus. That’s a little about the difference between Charity and Justice. But I would really like to give you a crass example. Maybe you’ve heard some variation of this example, “OK, pastor, I’ll give a hundred dollars for that poor soul over there in Africa but don’t talk to me about my car.”
Quiz time. What does the average American wedding cost today? $23,000, you’re getting close. $25,000, closer. It’s $27,850. It’s because of that that we produced a little book a while back — the Alternative Wedding Book. And it has been updated recently. It helps brides and grooms and their parents and their pastor with two things — first, an attitude change that it’s OK to have a simpler wedding, and second with nuts and bolts ideas about how to go about doing that. This book is 125 pages. The average issue of Bride’s magazine is 900 pages. So, you can see what we are up against.
That’s our mission statement — equipping people of faith challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly. Three segments of the VIDEO “Simple Living Works!” describe the mission. Click on each above to go to YouTube.
If I were to take the 150+ educational and inspirational resources on the SLW! site and try to divide them up neatly under one of the three parts of the SLW! Mission, it would be fruitless. Almost all of them would fit under all three . . . because the three parts of the Mission work together, they are intimately interwoven.
For example, our best known resource, the Advent/Christmas annual Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? most obviously strives to equip people to celebrate responsibly. But that means challenging consumerism. . . and living justly.
Beyond the mission are more specific GOALS.
1) “Heightening awareness in an increasingly larger audience about the implications of consumerism and commercialization in the celebrations of Christmas and other holidays.”
2) “Diverting persons and institutions from over-consumption to a more just distribution and stewardship of funds and other resources.”
3) “Providing a bridge between those concerned about peace, justice and sustainability of creation whether within religious institutions or outside them.”
Sounds quite contemporary, yet this mission and goals were written over 20 years ago.
They also sound quite practical. Some simple living groups focus on the personal, spiritual aspects. Alternatives may start there but always goes beyond the personal to the community and to the global.
Also of interest: What’s Happened to Simple Living?