Okay, I get it.
I know that there is something transformative that happens when people move from a passive seat-warmers to full engaged church members. I recognize that it’s better to move from the sidelines to the playing field. To step up your game. To be applying your spiritual gifts and your natural gifts.
I also get the need.
Several decades ago my mother sat in an adult Sunday school class when someone quietly tapped her on the shoulder saying, “Are you Mrs. Wilkinson? We’ve heard you have experience teaching high school students in another church. Would you like to do that here?”
She replied that she would very much like to do that adding, “When you want me to start?”
The reply was, “The girls are sitting in a classroom right now waiting for you.”
That’s a true story; that really happened! And the need in many of our churches is just as urgent.
However — you knew there had to be a however, right? — I have problems with churches, especially megachurches1 taking a Sunday out of the year to basically use the sermon time to try to enlist, conscript, or coerce people to be those badly needed volunteers. Or in the case of at least one U.S. megachurch, about three Sundays per year.
So much of what the local church is calling people to is a somewhat self-centered agenda. We want you to sing in our choir, serve in our midweek Children’s ministry, and help out on our property team. Maybe you think self-centered is strong language, but that is how it looks to
- those not ready or able to commit just yet
- the cynics who think the church is trying to serve its own ends
- people dealing with their own brokenness and in need of some teaching that will lift their spirits before they return to their personal life circumstances.
Volunteer Sunday(s) has got to go.3
Stepping into service is something that should happen organically in the life of the Christ-follower. Any local assembly that is doing everything they can to help people become fully committed followers of Jesus will find people seeking opportunities to serve.
They will, for certain, be turning volunteers away.
1 This can happen in a small church as well, where the coercion is multiplied by the fact you feel the pastor is looking directly as you as he preaches (which he is)
2 Where it ranks right up there with the give money sermon
3 This is why you read blogs, right? You don’t get this type of blanket or inflammatory statement at Christianity Today