Our vision for The Mill is that participation in its unique opportunities would result in people renewing their vision and motivation to make an impact in their world. We pray that people will be equipped to have a new or deeper impact in their own (or other) settings as a result of their experience. We pray for the values, insight, and appreciation of community to be contagious, that people will become more involved in outreach. We don’t want “more of the same” of what the world offers, but people who are equipped and empowered to present a challenge to lifestyles of isolation, acquisitiveness, busy-ness, exploitation, and complicity. We pray that those who share life with us will become more resourceful, less passive and more inspired, having learned what was within them or around them that God has provided.
* * *
We’ve shared how we really desire our presence here to foster a place of rest and retreat, about how we’re all about “facilitating community,” and that, for us, ‘community’ is more than just a bunch of individuals, but that there are particular values that we hope community can advance.
All of that describes, at a deep level, who we understand ourselves to be. But it’s doesn’t touch on something important… namely, the question “So what?” Is this community about which we dream merely an end in itself, one good way among many to spend a day or week or month?
We don’t think so. We’ve personally seen how the power of inspired vision can accomplish amazing things in the most unexpected of places. And we’re not satisfied with the world as it is today… That’s why we pray – because things are NOT the way they ought to be. And we know that what this world needs is not a little tinkering and polishing… apart from deep transformation, we’re in deep trouble. That might make us sound like pessimists. But we are actually optimists, because we believe that deep transformation is possible. Honestly, we do.
But we know it must start from within. We need to begin by taking ownership of our own lives and decisions. And by looking within ourselves (as individuals and, corporately, by looking within our respective communities) to find the resources with which we have been blessed. We’re reflecting that here at The Mill with the way we’re working with, not against, the land, using the materials that the land offers freely to build a place of belonging: rock, timber, sand.
We’ve been groomed by our consumer culture to always look outside of ourselves to something that can be ‘purchased’ in order to get what (we have been convinced) we need. (“Isn’t there an app for this?”) This can take even our most lofty goals and dreams and sublimate them to a world-system that is resistant to transformation because it is so successful at recruiting even its opponents into its ranks. We know we can do better.
But we’re not advocating a “Cult of Rugged Individualism.” None of us can make it on our own… and trying to do so will only cut us off from the benefit of community, without which we wither. We need to seek truth together, because we can only find it together. And we can’t challenge something within which we ourselves are entangled. That’s why dabbling in “hashtag activism” is so potentially dangerous, why “awareness raising” can actually be an impediment to true, lasting sustainable progress. Raising awareness without effecting behavior change can make problems worse. And seeking behavior change without transformation of the heart and spirit will not be sustainable.
We don’t want a frustration with the world as it is that can be turned into a commodity. We want to develop, empower and release people with values a mindset, skills and passion to envision their world differently and actively live the change they seek.
That’s our vision. That’s why we’re here. And it’s that to which we’re praying that others will become attracted.