“Help! I need somebody. Help, not just anybody. Help, you know I need someone, help” (Beatles). Do you ever find yourself singing or maybe even crying the words to that song?
Chances are if you lead a ministry you have sung those words (or some form of them) at some point in time. Ministry to kids, teens, emerging adults, adults, seniors, and families requires lots of hands and feet – we cannot effectively serve alone. We need help! We need volunteers, lots of volunteers.
The dictionary’s definition of volunteer is “a person who freely enlists for service” and its synonym is altruism, defined as “unselfish concern for the welfare of others.” Those two definitions combined give a great glimpse into the people who are ministry volunteers.
The Church has always relied on volunteers to fulfill its mission and carry out the work of ministry. From the New Testament church’s Priscilla and Aquila, through centuries filled with men and women devoted to carrying out ministry concerned only for the lost, to today’s volunteer work force comprised of teens, young adults, grandparents, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, and friends volunteers have been the hands and feet of Jesus in the day to day Kingdom work.
It is our privilege to minister alongside people who give so freely of themselves.
Scripture gives us some insights into what kind of people we should be and the kind of people we should look for who can be “entrusted with God’s work”! The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Titus, a worker in the early church, in which Paul described to Titus what a worker or “overseer” of the ministry should look like – who they should be and what they should do. Paul suggested in Titus 1:7-9 workers should:
Be Blameless – Pure, without sin or corruption, filled with the attributes of righteousness available only through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
• Not overbearing
• Not quick-tempered
• Not given to drunkenness
• Not violent
• Not pursuing dishonest gain
• Loves what is good
• Self controlled
Wow – that is a tall order. The Apostle Paul identified incredible expectations for those who were entrusted with God’s Message and the ministry. The reality is we can’t do all those things on our own strength, it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can remain calm when situations get tense, remain honest when no one is looking, maintain personal discipline and self-control through all situations, and be welcoming, loving, and godly when the pressure is on. We need to be people who trust in the Lord and do not lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5), and we need to find people to help in ministry who do the same.
Hold Firmly to the Message –
All of us who are entrusted with God’s good work must never sway from the message of the cross and salvation through Jesus Christ alone – His miraculous birth, death, and resurrection.
There are many things that demand our time, grab our attention, and peak our interest. There are things that are exciting, interesting, new, and trendy, things that help us relate and be relevant, things that are important to teach and share, but there is only one message, one lesson, one thing that we must hold firmly to and never loosen our grip. Everything else will fade and become outdated or tired or stale, but this one thing will remain – the life-transforming and life-saving message of Jesus Christ!
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
Encourage and Refute:
The youngest to the oldest are bombarded daily with diverse messages vying for their attention, their hearts, and their minds. It is easy to become distracted and swayed. As workers entrusted with God’s good work, we must encourage children, teens, emerging adults, adults and families to hold tight to their Christian faith and to walk in that faith. The ability to refute false teaching requires discernment – the ability to see and know what is right, the ability to “think biblically”.
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
abstain from every form of evil” ((I Thess. 5:21-22).
The ministry needs volunteers to help all those entrusted to our care to come to know God and His love, to teach them to live a life of faith and faithfulness, and to equip them to live out their faith in the everydayness of life. Godly volunteers – blameless, who hold firmly to The Message, and are prepared to encourage and refute.
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
The call to ministry is compelling, the work of ministry can be exhausting, and the need for help is critical. It is vital that we recruit the right people, equip them well, and keepthem as a valuable member of the team.
Recruit people with:
• Spiritual Maturity
Equip them by:
• Providing Clear Guidelines And Expectations
• Sufficient Resources
• Continued Training And Spiritual Development
Keep them as a valuable member of your team:
• Say “Thank You”
• Show Them Their Kingdom Value
• Supply Lots Of Reasons To Stay
There is great joy in doing ministry together; releasing people to experience the joy of serving, and helping them find their passion and calling! Ministry to your volunteers is just as necessary as ministry to the children, teens, emerging adults, adults, and families. The truth is we need Help! We need somebody – “not just anybody” – but someone to help. “Won’t you please, please help me?”
Dr. Colleen Derr is Associate Professor of Congregational Formation and Christian Ministries at Wesley Seminary, Indiana Wesleyan University