Involvement Theory & Reality
I am a firm believer that God supplies all our needs (cf.Phil.4:19). I am also a firm believer that the Lord supplies everything we need to do His work (cf. Eph.4:9-11; et al) in our local congregations.
Both of these put together simply mean that the work (that which needs to get done) of each congregation, in theory, should get done. In other words, there are enough people, gifts, passions, life skills, ministry experience and personalities to get everything done to help a church run smoothly and grow both numerically and spiritually. In some very real sense, we shouldn’t have to use the word “need” in the church. Every ‘need’ should be covered by her members. In some sense, we shouldn’t have to ask or beg for volunteers.
However, this is not reality. Reality is that many times we have a shortage of volunteers for various ministries in the church (e.g. men leading worship, child care, teachers, etc.). This is true of my congregation and we have exceptional members. For some ministries, we are constantly asking (I don’t like the word ‘begging’) and requesting more volunteers. I am convinced that the ‘man power’ is in the pews (theory) but in reality, not all members are volunteering to fill in where we are deficient (reality). Why is this?
Some members have proper boundaries. Some folks know their limitations; they are not going to overcommit themselves to their personal detriment or the detriment of their marriages or families. These folks have limited themselves to a certain number of ministries and no more. They refuse to overcommit. I cannot argue with this. I do, however, applaud it. Do I wish they would do more? Sure, especially when it comes to doing what others apparently do not wish to do. However, this is not fair. Everyone of us needs boundaries.
Some members don’t know how God has blessed them for ministry. Some members have not taken the time or expended the energy needed to discover how the Lord has designed them for ministry. As a result, they may or may not be involved in any ministry. I believe, if they knew how God designed them, they would be likely to join the fellowship of ministry in the local church. We are a priesthood of believers who are living sacrifices.
Some members don’t feel any obligation to serve in any capacity. This is an interesting point. Yes, there are some members who seriously do not feel that have any obligation or responsibility to serve in any capacity. You ask, “How could anyone feel this way?” Please allow me to explain. Some feel no obligation because they have not been taught that we each have this obligation or privilege. Some of us feel this way because we feel like we’ve already fulfilled our obligation when we were younger. I’ve heard many older members say this especially those with children that they taught when younger. I really don’t see anything in the Bible about retiring from ministry at any age no matter our circumstances. Some members are the thorny soil of Jesus’ parable of the four soils. They are so busy with work, play, sports, recreation, travel, family, hobbies, possessions, friends, gadgets, toys, etc. etc. they don’t have time or desire to serve. Some in their spiritual immaturity are irresponsible and think the church exists for them. They have not gotten to the spiritual development point where they actually bear any fruit for the Lord. They have either forgotten or never heard that they were created by Christ and for Christ. All we can do is continue to educate and exhort and hope they change.
Some of them need to be asked. In one of my articles (Why Some Members are Not Involved) I mention this reason. Some folks simply need to be asked. We shouldn’t prejudge them thinking they would not be interested. We need to give them the benefit of the doubt and ask them for their help.
There may be other reasons (excuses) that members have. I cannot think of one that will stand up in God’s court. No matter our age, our gender, our health, our income, our education, our experience, our Bible knowledge, we should be serving in some capacity.
But this is theory; more important this is what the Lord expects. We have been recreated in Christ for good works. We are His masterpiece created in Christ for good deeds. The ideal is that theory becomes reality. And, it does when Christ becomes Lord of our lives.