Have you ever had one of those moments where you felt like someone was twisting your arm to do something that you really didn’t want to do? Maybe it was to go on trip, host a party, lead a project, or take a new job. Or maybe for you it was something like trying that new food, talking to a new group of people, or helping a friend do something that you would have just rather not been involved in. It does not really matter what it is, but if we feel like someone is pressuring us into something or they are trying to make us do something that we just flat out don’t want to do, we start to get that strange feeling in the pit of our stomaches. We start to avoid the person twisting that arm, because quite honestly, arm twisting hurts and is uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need a good arm twist to get us to do something that we never really knew was good for us. Nonetheless, we don’t like it when things feel like a time share pitch. We just want our free gift and then we want to go about our nice little way.
Working in church world I have seen this happen a lot. There is one area in particular that I see most churches deal with proverbial arm twisting. Churches don’t do it on purpose…most the time. In fact most churches do it because they know that it is vital. We are guilty of it here at CCM too. It is in the realm of getting people to volunteer in our churches. Maybe you have heard the old adage in church that 20% of the people do all the work. In some cases that is true. In fact, in a lot of churches that is true. Thankfully, I would not say that about our church here in Mason, but we have a good chunk of people that are not serving anywhere in the church. That does not really bother me, other than the fact that when you serve you connect, and when you connect, you have greater chance of sticking and growing in your relationship with Christ. But I get it. You have heard the sales pitch from the preacher, you have had someone with a clip board try and rope you in to working with middle schoolers and it felt more like a pressure cooker situation than an invitation to something greater. Every church is guilty of this, but remember the heart behind getting you to volunteer and serve is in the right place.
Now I get that it would be easy to throw this down on the church and the leaders of ministries, but sometimes that becomes our excuse for not plugging into a local church. We like the ability to come, worship, and leave. However, we were not called to come, worship, and leave. We have been called to serve the body of Christ and the world around us with the love of Christ. Do we as the church need to do a better job of inviting people into mission instead of making it feel like a pyramid scheme? ABSOLUTELY!!! But, we as individuals may need to look at serving in a different light. What if we started to look at what scripture really says to us about serving? Recently I have been studying through the book of Acts and the other day I was struck in chapter six with what biblical serving and volunteering really looks like. In fact, I would encourage you to read Acts 6:1-15, just click on the scripture and take a look. What stood out to me were three key thoughts on how we should view volunteering in the body of Christ. Maybe these will help shift our perspective.
1. Volunteering Is Not Arm Twisting
It is a heart privilege to serve in the body of Christ. If you look at the text I gave you above, Stephen and the other six men had to be able to demonstrate that they had a heart and life that represented a Spirit-filled walk with Jesus. Remember though, these seven men were normal every day people just like us. Yet, they were selected by their peers, they had gifts and talents, but they were also chosen because their life reflected Jesus. Not only that, but they were longing to serve and had to show a life worthy of that calling to serve. However, my guess is that once they started serving, as we see with Stephen’s short lived life after this, they grew even deeper in their walk with Jesus. In fact Stephen did so to the point of death. We should be dying to serve more than being begged to serve.
2. Volunteering Should Never End With The Phrase “GOOD ENOUGH”
I look at our community here in Mason, Ohio, and it is a community of excellence. We have people that work for P&G, GE, and a host of other huge corporations. Our community oozes excellence in our workplaces, our sporting complexes are second to none, our shopping is clean and current, our homes are immaculate, our yards are crisp and green, and our HOA’s demand excellence of our dwelling places. Yet somehow, we sit in our churches and the phrase “that is good enough” trickles out. We forget to prepare our lesson for 1st graders and so we wing it…week after week…and we say, “that was good enough, they are only 1st graders.” God did not call us to “good enough” ministries, he called us to put on display the excellence of an excellent God. Today, may we be a people that do all we do as if working for God, not for man.
God did not call us to “good enough” ministries, he called us to put on display the excellence of an excellent God.Click to tweet
3. Volunteering Should Never Be Seen As A Second Rate Mandate
I love that in this text the apostles know their mission and calling. They know that God has commissioned them to preach and teach the word of God. But I want us to understand something, they did not see their role as greater than anyone else’s, they saw it as different. I have had people say to me,
“well all I can do is shake hands” or “all I can do is hold a door” or “all I can do is…” fill in your own blank. In the Kingdom of God, there is no second rate work. All Kingdom work is noble and we should understand that we have all been given gifts and talents to grow God’s work. Today may you see the gifts and talents you have as a first rate opportunity to grow God’s church and his Kingdom.
Serving is not a second rate mandate, your gifts are a first rate opportunity to grow the Kingdom.Click to tweet
Here is what I do know…people that grasp the true joy in serving within the local body are some of the most spiritual and joyful people I know. Very rarely do they complain or cause dissension. Why? Because when you are focused on the work of God, you don’t get distracted by the things of this world. Not only that, but you are willing to put up with things you don’t always like, for people that are not always like you, so they might find the same redemption you have.
When you are focused on the work of God, you don’t get distracted by the things of this world.Click to tweet
So what it is it for you today? What is it that has kept you from volunteering in the church? Or better yet, what is it that keeps you serving in the church?