Becoming a Great Servant

According to the great thinker, Jim Collins, there are three determining factors that make an organization great. 1. Superior performance in their field. 2. The Wonder Life factor: The ability for a company to make a distinct impact that would be greatly missed if it was gone. (Named after the great Bailey Building and Loan from the movie “Its a Wonderful Life”). 3. Having longevity greater than any leader, product, or idea.

If we take these three guidelines and apply them to Cobblestone we fairly easily see the direction where we need to go. We have made it clear that we are trying to be a “Christian community working together to serve all people.” This means that the big output that we are focused on is increasing our service of all people,- and we will do this by being a Christian community being guided by our Core Values.

It is to that end that the consistory and myself have come up with a very large goal for Cobblestone to pursue over the next decade. Our goal is to accomplish 10,000 hours of service to people outside of our walls in one calendar year. We do not know how many hours we are currently doing a year, but my guess is that this year (2014) we will probably do roughly 1,500 hours of service. Getting from 1,500 to 10,000 hours of service is a process and will take incremental increases over the next several years. This could be a project that will take 10-15 years for our church to accomplish, e.g. if we increase service hours by 20% each year we would reach our goal in 2025.  

This goal helps clarify any future initiative. From now on any event or activity we decide to do will need to answer yes to two questions. 1. Does this reflect our core values? 2. Does this help us accomplish our goal of 10,000 hours?

I like 10,000 hours because that is the number of hours that sociologists have said is required for anybody to become great at a particular skill. First chair violinists and all-star soccer players have each put in at least 10,000 hours of intentional practice to become great at their profession. I think pursuing and reaching this goal will help us become great servants leading Cobblestone to become a great church. We will become great at serving others, we will make a distinct impact that would be greatly missed if we were gone, and it is something that will take time, innovation, and good ole fashioned hard work to get it done.

Emmanuel Reformed Church in Paramount, California was started back when it was surrounded by Dutch dairy farmers. Today Paramount is part of the Metroplex around Los Angeles, and was named an All-American city back in 1988. Looking at its history you would never imagine that it could make that journey. When all of L.A. was transitioning from farming to industry, Paramount was hit hard with urban plight. It was so bad at one point it was labeled a “disaster” area by the Rand Corporation.

Emmanuel Reformed wanted to help its community so they began literally cleaning up the city block by block. They would paint schools and houses and plant trees throughout the town. When the city’s mayor was later interviewed about the success of the town, he said that it was because of Emmanuel Reformed that the city was transformed. That is how you know a church has made a distinct impact; when an outsider of the church points to the church because of its contribution to the good of the community. That is my hope for Cobblestone; one day people all over Schenectady county will point to this church and say that it is because of our work that the community was transformed.