Family Members Not Volunteers

People who are looking for a church to attend sometimes ask me, “What can I do at your church?” I understand that question. People want to be useful. They want to be involved in ministry. I understand the concern. But it has come to sound weird to me. It sounds like my son (who was adopted at the age of 6) sitting me down before the adoption and asking, “So if I join this family what will I do? What job will I have in this family? What can I do for you? How can I volunteer?” It turns out he never asked those questions. His main concern was whether we were a nice family. We never thought through what he would “do” as part of our family. He would be a family member. He would be our son. His identity as our son was central to the role he would play in our family.

Joining a church is like joining a family. The church isn’t a volunteer organization. We aren’t looking for a few good volunteers. Our primary concern isn’t what you can do for us. Our son got to know us and we got to know him. We settled into our roles as Father  and Mother and Son. Eventually we realized he should “do” something in this family. It tends to be feeding the dog, calling the dog in when she is barking in the backyard, and cleaning up the doggie dodo. It happened kind of naturally- It was stuff I was sick of doing! He could do all of these chores, so we assigned them to him. He was part of the family, so he started to do things, but that was secondary.

“I’m joining the church – What can I do?” Be a part of it. Be you. Be present. Get to know your fellow church members. Learn how you can serve and love them. Eventually we will get to whether there is something you can “do.” You aren’t what you “do” though. You are a brother or sister. You are part of the family. There will be jobs and tasks and chores in the church.  What you do is secondary though. I think we often consider what we volunteer for or what we “do” in the church as the primary thing, but it isn’t.

What is primary? You are part of the family. Love and Serve. I don’t mean serve as a volunteer in a ministry program. I mean serve with your everyday life. We often want to see things done, and we think that we need a program to do so, but God has designed the church as a family. You can “do” a lot of things, but let’s slow down and consider who we are first. Take up your role as a family member. How can you love and serve those around you? Let’s allow that question to lead the way.

Most of what needs to happen in the church happens in everyday life. If someone asks you what you do at the church you can tell them that you go out to coffee with one person, you welcome people into your home for dinner, you throw parties, you pray for your fellow church members, oh…and you also help lead worship. Think of the everyday before you think of “programmatic” ministry. Both are important, but we so easily miss the ministry in the everyday.

Your calling as a church member: Allow these people to become your people. Love these people. Serve these people.