Voluntold or Volunteer?

God's Church desperately needs servants who actively pursue opportunities to minister.

In our family, we use the term “voluntold” when mom or dad volunteer on behalf of their kids. From the time they were young, our children have been voluntold to pass out hymnals at nursing homes, set up chairs for a church plant, and clean church buildings. They generally participated with good attitudes but needed prompting and instructions from us. As they are now in their teenage years, we enjoy seeing them volunteer on their own. The older they get, the more we have stepped back and let them take the initiative as they see needs around them.
God’s Church, both in the United States and around the world, desperately needs servants who actively pursue opportunities to minister. If you find yourself sitting and waiting to be voluntold, begin moving toward becoming a volunteer. Perhaps you are serving but desire to see God use you even more. Consider these 3 practical steps as you pray for God to direct your service.

1. Prepare and Train

There are many reasons believers sit instead of serving, but one significant factor is that they have not trained and feel inadequate to the task. When ministry is before them, they walk around it not knowing how to dive in. Perhaps even more dangerous is the foolish individual who pursues a ministry without preparation and destroys more than builds. It is right that we trust God to place each member in the body as He wishes, but we are in error if we assume His gifting removes our responsibility to prepare. Every believer needs to first drink of the milk and then grow from the meat of the Word. Training in the Bible can take many forms, but all ministry must be grounded in knowledge and obedience of God’s truth. This growth and ability to serve will only continue if we are transformed by knowing and loving God every day of our lives.
Having a foundation set in loving God and growing in His Word allows you to train for specific areas of ministry. Each congregation needs members serving together for the body to be effective. Consider training in communication and teaching strategies, developing skills in music and church worship, and preparing to counsel someone gripped by sin. Don’t overlook the diverse skills that support the work of the body. Logistics will vary from one ministry to another, but churches meet in buildings that need to be maintained, have finances that must be managed, and use printed or web-based resources. You cannot see into the future and know every need that will arise, but thoughtful and deliberate training now will open doors for further ministry. Preparation is not only for those who are led to vocational ministry but for every believer because it is essential for each to serve in the body.

2. Serve Now

Now is the time to begin serving the Church; preparation and service must occur simultaneously. As you walk toward becoming a purposeful volunteer, avoid the ditches on either side of the road. Some have fallen into the error of abandoning training and jumping entirely into serving much sooner that is wise. This results in service that is less effective than it should be. Conversely, some have devoted themselves to training and preparation, but ignored serving altogether. The longer these individuals train without applying their skills, the more likely it is that they will never turn their acquired knowledge to service in the Church. Just as mature servants must never stop growing and developing in skill, emerging servants must begin patterns of service that will increase as they train.  Be a servant-learner now and allow God to develop you into a servant-leader in His time.
The best way to identify areas of service is to ask. Church and ministry leaders are a great resource to connect you with ministry needs. They can answer questions you may have about specific ministries and explain needs you may never have considered. Optimally, they can connect you with individuals who can help you develop as you serve. Please keep the attitude of a learner, not a critic, and understand there can sometimes be situations leaders cannot disclose. Before you commit to serving in a ministry, spend time in prayer. Once you volunteer, be dependable and give the best service you can. Always remember you are serving the One who loves you and gave Himself for you by serving the people He loves.

Be a servant-learner now and allow God to develop you into a servant-leader in His time.

3. Walk Humbly

All the preparation and ministry we bring is worthless if we fail to follow Christ’s pattern of humility. We cannot trust in our training nor boast in our service and truly honor the Lord. Pride quickly leads us to envy, distrust, bitterness, and immorality. It not only destroys our relationships with others but also with our heavenly Father. In our preparation and our service, we must humbly seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
The only defense we have against pride is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As He speaks to us through the Word and we respond in prayer, we gain a right understanding of ourselves and others. The only way to humility is with our Bibles open and our heads bowed. Even as you train to understand God’s Word better, practice serving from your knees. Believers who volunteer for very long will find the limits of their training and service. Those who are humble will faithfully continue in the knowledge that it is God’s work and all the honor and glory go to Him.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7

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