Church Boards have a significant challenge—actually a series of significant challenges—when it comes to inviting volunteers to help with all aspects of a congregation’s ministry.
Keep in mind that this should never be a “let’s fill this hole in our org chart” kind of endeavor. It might be helpful to think of a meal you have had at a restaurant. At any restaurant, from modest to lavish, many things need to work together to offer an experience you can appreciate when dining out. There have to be chefs to conceive the meal, do the shopping, prep the food, formulate the recipes, and cook it all in order to produce dishes capable of delight. But even the best meal—prepared, cooked, plated and put in the server’s hands—will fall short if that server is having an off day, has too many tables to attend to in a timely way, or drops the food on the way to the table.
Servers are rarely chefs. And chefs are rarely good at the interpersonal interaction and timing —and sometimes juggling—that is required of servers. They need to know, cultivate, and perform the roles that are best for them.
In 1 Corinthians 12:14-27, the Bible addresses this another way:
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
- What is the prime affirmation in these verses for life together in your church?
- What is the most challenging way these words may need to be applied in your present situation?
In church speak, inviting someone into a volunteer opportunity rarely goes well if the standard is: “well, she has the time.” Or, “he hasn’t done much lately. . . maybe he’s getting bored.” Sometimes pastors and boards have to talk lovingly and carefully to church “servers” who want to be chefs, and excellent “chefs” who think they can conceive, shop, prep, cook—and serve—the whole meal on their own. Hard to do, yes, but it is a conversation worth having.
If you think that is a hard conversation, and it is, then what are we going to do with the really hard truth: in most churches small and large, almost no one is standing in line to take over your volunteer role when you are ready to pass it along. That is where we will begin next week!