Continuing our Mill Pond Monday series unpacking the vision that keeps us going all day (and sometimes keeps us awake at nights!), we have a “core focus” underlying all our activity here: fostering community.
“The Mill” exists to glorify God through bringing people together around shared experience, interaction and discovery to foster a community whose living out and application of Kingdom values results in multiplying vision and motivation to creatively impact our world with the transformative power of the Gospel.
Our consistent focus at The Mill is on fostering community – not controlled or managed, but fostered and facilitated. Doing so, we are drawing on the significance of this place as a place of restoration in our own lives and families, our extensive ministry and mission experience in multiple cultures and languages, and a wealth of local culture and history to provide the “raw material” for building a sense of community.
Our prayer is that those who visit and stay with us will be able to find or recover a healthy rhythm of life in community, that emphasizes the contributions of each individual, to participate in a community committed to stewardship, where relationships, fresh encounters, knowledge, experience, and new perspectives are valued and shared. We envision a wide variety of people interacting in an atmosphere that respects and nurtures diversity, seeing it as a source of inspiration. Ideally, The Mill will be a place where people “belong,” both in their concrete experience here, as well as to the community tied to it. We pray that visitors and residents will gain a fresh appreciation of God’s design and purpose in our lives and world… and see the need to put their faith in God (not systems, structures, or status).
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ReachGlobal, the mission with which Jim serves is committed – individually and collectively – to a “central focus” of “developing, empowering and releasing” people. There is a lot of strength in identifying and articulating such an ethos, by which one can assess opportunity and progress.
For us here at the Mill, our central focus is on fostering community.
Sometimes contemporary life leaves us feeling like cogs in a machine. That feeling is fertile ground for a range of industries catering to (and getting rich by) fostering our “individuality.” However, that pursuit often leaves us feeling empty… we end up being unique… just like everybody else. Or our drive for individual realization ends up reinforcing a sense of distance from others that seems, in the end, not to have gotten us far from that disconnected feeling of being a “machine part.”
From where we stand, we’ve become convinced that a crying need of people today is for the experience of authentic community. However, often our attempts at community end up being gathering people who pretty much look like, act like, and think like ourselves. And while that’s comfortable enough, we know down deep that “community” is something more. But “reaching out” to, let alone forming mutually affirming relationships with people with whom we don’t typically agree is, frankly, hard. At times it feels downright unnatural. And – no matter how beneficial it could be – who has the effort, time and desire to pursue things that don’t come easy or naturally?
But we know, as we observe what is happening in our towns, cities and villages throughout this country – and in places all around the world – that the problem is not the lack of “like-minded people” around us. A big enough group of like-minded people, in some settings, is, basically, a mob… and Lord knows, we don’t need to foster any of those. We need to come together… but how?
We feel that God has uniquely prepared us and brought us to this unique place in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in order to create a unique “relational space.” A place within which people who may have given up on seeking “community,” those who have been left cold or even wounded by attempts to build “community” on shaky or unhealthy foundations, or those who have never really felt true authentic community can find restored hope and refreshed vision.
If you see this as a worthwhile undertaking, you may already be part of the Mill Pond community and not even know it…