Have you noticed how difficult it is to find people who will step up and help with church functions? There’s a much quoted saying about how 5% of the people do 95% of the work. In my experience that’s usually pretty accurate. One big problem is the increased use of the word “volunteer” to describe this work. But in truth, it’s not really volunteering when you’re serving Christ and His body. It is service, and that’s what it should be called. So one small thing that may help is for all of us to get out of the “volunteer” mindset and think more about what it means to serve. It’s not just about altruistic giving of your time. It’s about using the gifts the Lord has given you to serve each other. It’s joyfully giving back to Him. In this light, even the smallest, most non-glamourous tasks become valuable.
It can also be difficult to find areas to serve in the church. Most churches aren’t really focusing on how we can each develop our gifts and serve effectively. Programs, classes, etc. are planned and scheduled, and volunteers (there’s that word again!) are requested. And so, the same handful of people step up again, and step ever closer to burning out. Meanwhile many able bodied people who have been gifted to serve are left in a position of feeling somewhat guilty, and with no idea how to really engage and get involved. Even in really solid, Bible/Gospel teaching churches, this can be an issue that needs some work.
I’ve also noticed that among groups that have been blessed with discernment, we can be pretty tough on one another, and often lacking in encouragement. I know that for me (a very introverted person with physical limitations), I’m far more likely to step up and get involved if I’m kindly encouraged to do it, not guilted into it. I know we all need a good swift kick in the butt from time to time. And it is important that we all step outside our comfort zones from time to time. But honestly, I haven’t seen a lot of time spent cultivating encouragement towards one another, though it’s a vital part of any spiritually growing church. Having worked in a church, I can see how the disconnect becomes such a barrier to moving forward. I regularly saw people who were able bodied and willing to serve, but had no idea where to start or how to get involved. And I saw others who would stubbornly do everything themselves and burn out, not even considering to ask for help, or that there may be others who have been gifted to do certain tasks. We need to be striving for a healthy balance.
So I want to encourage anyone who reads this to consider how you might be more of an encouragement to your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Not just offering a pat on the back, but taking time to really think about and point out where you see God working in people, using them, gifting them. I suspect none of us can or will ever say that we get too much encouragement!