Be honest, when you think of ministry, does the word “volunteer” come to mind? Or do you cringe, wondering what unwanted task you’re going to get sucked into doing?
“I’ll pray about it.” We’ve all heard it before and have probably even said it in response to a request that we’re just not thrilled to accept. We perform a perfunctory prayer rather than a serious petition just to say we did it.
It’s understandable, but it’s time for a gut check. When you go to church, are you looking to serve or be served? Sometimes, we come on empty and need time to fill up. It’s OK. Take the time to reboot, refill, and come back stronger. And then jump back in with both feet. Find your place and volunteer.
Why volunteer? “Ministry is a discipline like Bible reading, prayer, and fasting. Church members have gotten out of the habit.” (Rainer)
It’s good for you. It’s good for the church. It’s what we’re made for.
You Are Part of Something Bigger
We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – a team, a great cause, a common mission. It’s meaningful to know that the sum of our lives is more than what we alone can make of it.
It’s how God made us, with a sense of self that is incomplete if we must complete it by ourselves. The first thing God declared “not good” was man’s aloneness. His design is for us not to be alone. We are made for more, and what God made us for is also made for us.
Complete perfection of the body will not be realized in this present day, but we can certainly gain a glimpse of it. Like our physical bodies, our church body of our brothers and sisters in Christ is deficient when we’re missing the functionality of one or more members. We can’t be just an eye, a leg, or a lung. We need the collective total of all our parts.
“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:18-20)
Are you a member of the body? Then, you are called to participate. Maybe you don’t feel like you have a particularly useful gift, but according to scripture, you do.
Peter tells us, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Each week, I watch members of our church, who are teachers, business owners, and police officers, walk around and pick up used communion cups from the seatbacks in the worship center. It doesn’t require a particular talent or skill, just a willing heart.
Perhaps you hold the opposite view. You have many skills and abilities that perform well in the marketplace, but you’re not quite sure how to put them to good use in the church. Talk with your men’s ministry leader and find out how you can serve in the way God has gifted you.
Leaders, it falls on you to recognize and call these abilities out when you see them in other men. Invite them to step up.
Commit to the Habit
When dealing with family, you know you might not see eye to eye on everything, but you’re still on the Christmas list. You’re still eating turkey together in November, and nothing will change that. Barring difficult circumstances, you’re committed to them.
When we invest in our church, we also become more committed. We become like family, building bonds, sharing our purpose, and learning to work together despite our differences. We are committed to the same outcome – building God’s Kingdom – and that far exceeds any personal differences we might have. Increased commitment brings increased accountability, and that is a good thing.
Want to Fight Loneliness? Raise Your Hand
Raise your hand to volunteer. “It’s a fast track to building relationships with other people, and often those relationships lead to a new (or deeper) relationship with Jesus.” (Lifeway Research)
You have a gift, probably more than one, given to you by God for the purpose of building up the body. It’s up to you to use those gifts to serve others, edify one another, and bear each other’s burdens.
What does that look like? It might look like mentorship. It might lead to ministry outside the church walls. Last weekend, I met a cool guy in Tennessee at a kickoff BetterMan event. “Big Frank” played pro football for several years and now coaches middle schoolers. He’s not in it for the money but for the love of those kids and for using his gifts and experience to serve the Lord by pouring into the lives of others.
Just start where you are and do something. Stop looking for perfection in the form of an assignment or a calling because it doesn’t happen that way. You’ll find your niche through a variety of things and experiences.
I pray you don’t see this as a guilt-trip-inducing message if you haven’t been volunteering. See this as an invitation to pray. Sincerely pray; don’t procrastinate. How has God gifted you? What gets you energized? God has gifted you specifically to serve his Kingdom. Don’t worry about running if you’re an eye, not a leg. Use your gifts and offer your vision to your church body. After all, it’s not your pastor’s church. It belongs to Christ, and He will build it. Don’t you want to raise your hand to be a part of that?
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
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