Recently I’ve been reading a book by Daniel Pink entitled, Drive: The Surprising Truth About what Motivates Us.  In the book, Pink tackles the somewhat controversial topic of why the reward and punishment approach to motivation doesn’t really work all that well.   Conventional wisdom says that we work harder when “carrots” are placed before us.  The carrot may be more money, recognition, or a new video game.  A “stick” often accompanies this approach where punishments are given for not working hard enough – the loss of vacation time or loss of the video game.

What Pink argues is that, though the carrots and sticks work sometimes, the most vital motivation comes from inside a person, not from external rewards and punishments.  The joy of doing a task well is its own reward.  Of course he has many examples that make his point, but the basic logic doesn’t need much applifying.  We work hardest at tasks we find interesting,  engaging, and worthwhile.  How else does one explain the thousands of volunteer hours given to building Wikipedia or the intense concentration of a child lost in play?  

Though I’m pretty sure that Mr. Pink didn’t have Christian congregations in mind when he put his thoughts on paper, he does a pretty good job of describing what I think makes congregations like Custer Lutheran Fellowship work.  Congregations with many people deeply engaged in tasks that they like to do, are good at doing, and make a difference being done are congregation that have are humming along well.

As we enter 2012 I’m excited about what is to come with the well-motivated group of Christian disciples called Custer Lutheran Fellowship.  In January the church council will be meeting in a retreat to begin the process of developing a new mission and vision statement for the congregation.  This will be a significant process and will involve the entire congregation as we lay out who we hope to be in the next decade.  I like to think that the work of the last mission and vision statement created nine years ago helped lead to the building of a new sanctuary, the calling of a second pastor, and the engagement of an entire new crop of motivated disciples. 

Thanks to the deep generosity of the congregation’s stewards and from the estimates generated on Consecration Sunday, we are planning on a 16 percent increase in financial giving in 2012.  This opens new opportunities for mission for us as a congregation as we look to the local community and beyond.

Christian leaders have reminded us that “It is a good time to be the church.” I think it is a good time to be the church because God always has work for us to do.  We do this work not because we are going to get rich doing it or because we will be struck by lightening if we don’t, but because Jesus’ work is good work.  Thanks be to God.