Welcome to In Touch. My name is Greg Hoenes, and I'm director of the West Region. It's a pleasure to be with you and to talk today about relationships and team. This is one of our core values here in Southern California Conference, and it reads like this, “We value relationships and are unapologetic in our love. We're committed to honoring each other's gifts, talents, and strengths, united together to accomplish Christ’s mission.”

The mission is pretty straightforward, too. "We exist to exalt Christ." Let's just stop. Full stop there. "Exalt Christ." What more could there be for a Christian to do?

"Exalt Christ." What more could there be for a Christian to do?

We purpose to exalt Christ by serving our diverse communities through networked and creatively engaged churches and schools.

The vision is “Embracing community in Christ.” Again, connected to this "exalting Christ" idea. And we do this ethically by loving those around us. It's supported by Ephesians 4:15-16, which reminds us that "speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into the one who is the head, into Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself in love."

That's what it's all about. Each part of the body holding together in a functional whole, being able to build all through love.

Well, it's all very business-like, but we have strategic objectives, too. And these strategic objectives are to help through relationships and teams to help us meet the objective of rigorous leadership and accountability processes.

That's on the administrative level, but on the level of our church members, who are constituents of our churches and our schools, it comes down more to gifts.

We all know 1 Corinthians 12, and other passages, where gifts are listed, but it's all from the Spirit. The Spirit that enlivens the body, the Spirit that gives us animation and voice, the Spirit of God who is love. And it says that each person is given a manifestation of the Spirit for common good. Now, that's a concept that's lost in today's fractured world. But in order to serve the common good, we each bring the gift that we've been given, whether it's wisdom or knowledge or faith or gifts of healing, whether it's the working of miracles or the speaking of prophecy, distinguishing or discerning spirits, knowing kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. These are all serviced by the same God, the same Spirit.

In order to serve the common good, we each bring the gift that we've been given.

Now, interestingly enough, we generally separate these things from talents. When we look at talents in Scripture, it's usually a word that refers to money, but it stands as a metaphor for investible tangibles and qualitative intangibles. During the building of both temples, the one in the wilderness and Solomon's temple, skilled craftsmen were called for. They brought their mastered crafts as talents and invested them to the glory of God and the temples of God.

Strengths are yet another idea, and contemporary notions of strength are quite different from the ancient ones. The idea of strength has some subtlety in Scripture, but it's generally about endurance, the capacity to hold fast, one's power or might, etc. In the modern context, strengths are things we're good at, skills that we've obtained, and this plays out in interesting ways, practical ways in the life of the Church in Southern California Conference.

First of all, in our region, you see evidence of teamwork and relationships that make that teamwork flow. In our West Region Staffing Committee and our West Region Committee, as you may know, each of our regions in the Southern California Conference has a standing committee with representatives from every church, always a preponderance of lay representatives, followed then by pastoral representatives. And it rotates back and forth between church to church.

We're able to take relationships that are built and form team for the strategic good of our conference as a whole and the work of God in Southern California as we move forward. We exalt Christ by taking care of business in an ethical, connected, relational, understanding, and civil way.

Same thing in the life of the church. So many times, I see our church is fractured over ideology or politics, but in reality, we need the full spectrum of personalities and characters. We need people with different kinds of gifts and diversity of perspectives, and we need love to bring it all together in the context of building church.

Of course, schools need to function as teams as well, because if educators aren't networked, if educators aren't connected, if they're not in relationship, they can scarcely model that for the kids, nor can they do this kind of sequential educating that's required as a child moves up through the system.

Finally, we as a conference model this as well. Our own AdCom would surprise you. I think if you sat with us and heard sometimes the directness of the comments made in love, even the sharp disagreements and the arguments that ensue, not in a nasty way, but in a way in which each of us listens to the other trying to understand perspective, because we know each of us, not only loves one another, but we care deeply about this church, its present and its future.

I want to thank each of you for partnering with us as we seek to exalt Christ daily. It's not always obvious that that's what's happening, but we would be interested in what your thoughts are and how we live out the core value of relationship and team in the context of denominational life. 

We'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and a like on this video, and we'll see you next time. As always, I'm Greg Hoenes. Thank you for watching.