Who’s the most important person in a church? Is it the pastor who preaches every weekend and visits during the week? Is it the Head Elder who runs the church board? Is it the “Major Donor” who writes that check to get the roof replaced?
What about the ladies who run the kitchen for potluck lunches? Or the teenagers who shovel the snow and mow the lawn? What about the classroom teachers?
What about all the volunteers who love the church with all their heart and spend their spare time helping keep it running?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently as I look around my own church at all the people who make things happen each week. They fold bulletins, greet, teach, set up chairs, and serve food. Like an army of ants they bring life to the church without ever setting foot on stage. They do what they do because they care. They want to make their church a welcoming and worthwhile place for others within the church. They don’t do it for the glory or recognition, but for the personal fulfillment of serving.
But volunteering can also be the most frustrating thing you do. After you’ve done it for a while others just expect it of you. It starts to turn from volunteering into a requirement. Others complain if you “aren’t doing enough” or if “your doing it wrong”. “Thank you” comes less and less often. The thought creeps into your head that “they need me more than I need them”. “What are they going to do, fire me?”
From personal experience I can tell you volunteering is the single most rewarding thing I do outside my family. No matter how bad my week or how discouraged I am, the moment I set foot into the room where I lead the youth ministry of our church I am fully alive. I have grown personally and spiritually as I connect with others. I’m challenged not just to accept my faith, but to live it out as an example to others. I’m compelled to understand God personally, studying and seeking Him in ways that I don’t believe sitting idly in the pews would ever do. I’m humbled by the fact that I never feel like I can do enough.
Could a church function without the volunteers?
Volunteers are the most important piece of a healthy church. Pastors leave or are replaced every couple of years it seems. One turn of the stock market and your “Major Donor” becomes minor quickly. But church isn’t about where the money comes from or how noteworthy your speaker is. The heart of service from it’s members is what brings life to a thriving church. Sadly I see volunteers overlooked, overworked, and under-appreciated all too often. They become discouraged and not only leave their work as a volunteer, but because volunteering defined who they were in the church they leave altogether. Before you know it there are empty pews around you.
Do you volunteer? Why?