Shaping a Life of Service

Grace Bucknell participated in the Venn Residential Fellowship 2017-18 and currently works as a Creative Producer for Christian Broadcasting Association (CBA). She is also studying Theology part-time at Carey Baptist College and worships at Greenlane Christian Centre. Here Grace shares some thoughts around what service means in her life as an early-20s young adult living in Auckland.


My parents are ministry leaders in our hometown of Waipukurau. Growing up in a small town, with parents who are passionate about youth and young adults, meant that service was, by virtue, an extension of who I am. Our home was always open to feed and support the many teenagers in my parents’ youth programme and I’d watch my parents handle the occasional teenage existential crisis.

From a young age, I’d always arrive at church early to help lead the kids programme and I loved it. Service wasn’t something I chose, it was just part of the fabric of my life.

When I left home after high school to study Journalism at Massey University in Wellington, I was no longer under the wing of my parents and I realised that service needed to be shaped within my own context. As a result, my definition of service has been tugged at and reshaped over the past five years, and, as an early-20s young professional, I’m still trying to figure out what service actually looks like in my life today.

It helps to know that service is central to my work at Christian Broadcasting Association. Our mission is to serve radio stations by providing good quality content, to serve listeners by sharing the heart of God and entertaining them, and to serve Christians who are working in the media by offering them support and encouragement through chaplaincy and other initiatives.

I also know that service is central to my experience at my church, Greenlane Christian Centre (GCC). When I started attending just over a year ago, I remember feeling frustrated by the gaps in our young adults ministry. This led to an important lesson in service. As I began exploring some of these frustrations, I realised that a lot of them came from areas where God has given me a real passion and gifting. I realised that faithful service would mean using these passions and giftings to serve the Church.

It would mean sticking it out and committing to serve in a couple of different areas, instead of packing up and leaving to find another church that could “fulfil my needs”.

My experience at GCC has been essential in realising that service is not about me, it’s not on my terms, and it’s not just when I feel like it.

It would be easy for me to go through the motions and fill a gap on the worship roster or young adults leadership team, but I know that God is calling me to change the culture in those spaces.

GCC has asked me to shift the vision and culture of our Sunday night services and to start new initiatives where people are ushered into God’s presence. This feels daunting to lead something on my own and to start new initiatives when I’m not sure if people will follow. Through this, I’m learning that service costs something. I have to put aside my image, put aside the easier option, and commit to doing what I know God has called me to do. It’s in that sacrifice and pouring out of myself that I find service has become much more meaningful.

I am slowly redefining what service looks like in my own life and I’m still asking questions: How can I serve my flatmates? How can I serve well in my workplace, in a way that is honouring the job and not just doing it for the paycheck? How can I serve authentically within my church community, without just trying to get my way or doing what makes me feel good? I don’t have many answers, but I think that living in the tension of these questions and committing to continue asking them, frames my life in a way that is always trying to get to the heart of service. The more I think about it, the more it comes back to what I learned in childhood: service is about opening up my life and home, giving of my resources and time, and living to give to and to sow into others.

(Image: Kareen Durbin)