When I was a 23 year old doe-eyed seminary student, our pastor shared words that have stuck with me ever since:
There is no excuse for any able bodied church member to not be on the children's ministry volunteer rotation
Being a 23 year old doe-eyed seminary student who loved Jesus and loved our church and was naive and believed in what our pastor said, I walked to our children's ministry and volunteered. I filled out the background check and got the call for my assignment. Bed babies.
It was great. I got to be like the honorary funcle. I was a jungle gym, a reader, I'd play with the kids, and occasionally get peed on. And I'd hope that the parents wouldn't get too mad when they got home and their baby's diaper was on backwards (it wasn't until later I learned the picture goes on the front). Looking back on those Sundays, I'm so glad for the chance to serve.
Fast forward 16 years and I still firmly believe that. But I'd expand what Dr. Ewart said even further:
There is no excuse for any able bodied church member to not serve regularly.
Membership in the local church is more than attending. That's the starting point of assimilating. Merely attending isn't what God has gifted and called individual believers to do. Gravity has the chairs (or pews) covered. If that fails, the bolts will take over. Membership in the Body means participating in the life of the Body. That starts with attending, and extends into giving, praying, working, and serving.
Two things every member should ask themselves are:
1) Do I have a group to connect with? Groups form the relationship lifeline of a church. They keep people connected and in fellowship & accountability with one another.
2) Where can I serve with my gifts and experience? God has uniquely gifted every believer, and those gifts are meant to be used. Membership isn't about attending or taking. It's about giving and serving, it's producing something.
Serving produces indescribable joy. It really does. You get a front row seat to what God is doing throughout the ministries of a church. Our children's volunteers are amazed when they see the Bible verses our kids are treasuring and storing, and how they are developing a hunger for their friends to know about Jesus. You miss that when you don't serve.
Serving fosters deeper relationships. When you spend time laboring alongside other believers, it fosters a type of fellowship that can't be developed on its own.
Serving glorifies God by reflecting the work of Christ. Think about it for a minute, the King of the Universe for whom all was created said of Himself "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...." Jesus lived a life of serving. Jesus washed feet. If Jesus were walking today, He'd be stacking chairs. When we refuse to serve, we're putting ourselves above what Jesus Himself was willing to do.
Pastors, if you're reading this, foster a climate of serving. Talk about it with new members. Reinforce it in your preaching. Celebrate faithful volunteers.
Church members, if you're reading this, jump on a rotation. You don't have to do everything. But you do need to do something.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.