Volunteers? Maybe Not

For many years now I’ve heard “church work is done by volunteers.” Now I’m wondering if that is really the best way to describe the work and workers. For too long church rolls have bloated with names of people who believe they can attend, work, share, fellowship etc. as much or as little as they choose. After all participation is voluntary. But is it really? It is immature to believe that I can do as little as I please in service to God and still be considered part of the church.
The Scriptures reveal that once a person chooses to follow Christ he then must give his all. He must deny himself take up Christ’s cross and follow everyday. A once per week, month or sporadic following is really worse than not following at all. Lukewarm, halfhearted commitment leads to harsh judgment from Christ (Rev 3:16). Paul describes his following of Christ as servant, soldier, prisoner. None of those sound like partial commitment.
The family of God should be able to count on 100% of its members being 100% committed to 100% of its work and worship. Just as Paul considered his responsibility to Christ a duty, privilege and obligation so ought we.
Volunteer organizations even have an expectation of participation of its members. Lions, Elks, Rotarians all have written guidelines demanding commitment and involvement from their members. Isn’t our pursuit in Christ more weighty than these others? The Lord has a right to demand our best efforts for the Kingdom.
Service by guilty conscience is a burden both to the worker and the church they serve. Guilt driven commitment leads to joyless service it is much better when people serve from a love and gratitude.
Low commitment levels usually result from low expectations, immaturity and failure to be challenged to grow up to perfection in Christ.
We’ve bought into the idea that church is a volunteer effort and we should not expect everyone to participate. With that attitude we are defeated before we begin. No army would go into the field equipped like that. We need to teach and encourage people to give their best all the time to the Lord. Our leaders need to cast a vision and set the example for us to follow.
Christians need to see their importance within the local body of Christ. We should understand that my effort is not only needed but desperately needed. I need to see myself as an essential part of the working of the church. When individuals view themselves as irrelevant, or unnecessary for any work they will not commit their whole heart.
As disciple mature they will see more and more their value to the body. Their history of work and dedication will prove to them how necessary they are to the success of every effort. The skill honed by years of service is of greater value as time advances.
I may have come to Christ voluntarily but what I give now that I promised Him my allegiance is my obligation and duty. Not one born of guilt or compulsion but of appreciation, devotion and love for the Lord.

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