Today I got to sit down over lunch with a 200church pastor from another city. We talked about the blessings and challenges of our ministries. One of his struggles is that not many of his people are stepping forward right now to serve. His church is in a very different place than mine, yet I have been where he is at and hopefully I encouraged him along the way. We have been talking this week about volunteer leadership – today we ask the question: How can we nurture volunteer leadership?
To answer that, let’s consider something said in this week’s podcast. In our podcast this week, Jan Schuiteman asked the question: “Why is serving in the church different than serving in business?” Jan thinks there’s no difference, there’s no separation between sacred and secular, and that our whole life is lived in community with others in the Kingdom of God. He says that he serves God whether he is in the church’s facilities, his work facilities, at home with family, or in the community. We agree, and we are thankful for his insistence on the philosophical paradigm shift that is required to live that out!
Remember we are answering the question: How can we nurture volunteer leadership? Jan’s statement brings up another question – when are “church people” serving? If a church member is leading a project team at work, is that his or her ministry? Is it really any different, as a Kingdom disciple of Jesus, than leading a ministry team at church? We think the specifics of the project and the details of the tasks might be different, but in terms of working with others, doing life together with others, and being a Kingdom contributor, both are important and both are ministry.
We think this is the key to nurturing volunteer leadership – when we remind, teach, and live out the truth that wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, whoever we’re doing it with – it’s all ministry! Life in the Kingdom is serving others in love and honoring God with our gifts, talents, and abilities. Those things happen no matter where we are, and our presuppositions about church ministry and church leadership must reject the old “It’s only true ministry if it’s done in the church building.” We don’t really believe that anyway, but we organize, talk, and lead sometimes as though it is true.
We nurture volunteer leadership when we call ourselves and our people to live lives of ministry in service to God, no matter our profession, vocation, or calling. Just as we say that leadership in the Kingdom matters regardless of church size, so ministry and service to God matters regardless of the location or organizational setting.
Wouldn't it be great to have ministries that represent your church wherever your people are? Well, that’s how it should be, right? Let’s give our people permission to serve wherever they are, yes, even lay out an expectation that they will be serving God at home, work, church, or play. Serving God is a matter of the heart, and of using what he’s given us to honor him and help others.
We want to end with Jan’s question yet again: “Why is serving in the church different than serving in business?” Can we answer with a very basic, yet mind blowing answer? You already know this. We just don’t act like we know it sometimes. The answer is this – it is no different, because we don’t serve IN the church, we ARE the church! Wherever we are, we are the church serving, bringing the presence of Jesus to our context and culture.
When disciples practice service wherever they are, we have created a culture of volunteer leadership! NEXT WEEK’S topic is a great one – How to Integrate Your Church Into the Community.
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