…from the whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which EVERY PART DOES ITS SHARE, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. -Ephesians 4:16
I admit that it really rubs me raw. The common excuses that I continue to hear from church members on why they can’t serve the church are likely universal in church life. Church has been created to be, and must be, a ALL IN kind of place. I always heard the 80-20 ratio about faithful church workers but didn’t want to believe it. Now I am fully convinced that most of our churches have 20% of the people doing 80% of the ministries. Of the 20% of the people who are serving, many of them are paid staff. Finding a church member who knows their spiritual gift and is actively using it without continual grumbling is becoming a rare thing these days. Too many Christians are using the same worn out excuses and it is time the DEBUNK the myths of church service!
Myth 1. If you have little talent, then God can’t use you to serve the church.“God can’t use me.” Oldest excuse in the book. It goes all the way back to Moses. He too argued with God about his usability. “But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?” Moses asked God. “How can you expect me to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt?” God told him, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3: 11-12. What made Moses effective was not his ability. It was God’s ability. Notice God says to him, “I will be with you.” That is how you will lead the people. God didn’t say, “Because you are an incredibly gifted, talented man I will be able to use you.”God used a shepherd boy named David to slay Goliath. He used a goat herding guy with a speech impediment to go to Pharaoh. He used fishermen and tax collectors to start the church. He used a Christian persecuting, gentile hating, over zealous Jew to spread to gospel all over the world. Don’t tell me he can’t use you. When we say things like that we limit God. God is not limited by your inability, you are able because of his supernatural ability.
Myth 2. As you get older you can serve the church less. The older people sometimes say, “That is what young people are for. They have more energy. I have served my time.” Caleb would not like that excuse. Joshua 14 & 15. An 85 year old man, still believed in the promises of God and also believed that God could use him to clear a mountain for God’s glory. There is no retirement age in church ministry. You may not be able to do what you once could, but you can still do something. As I look back over my ministry as a pastor I can honestly say that some of my most effective volunteers were senior adults. With many of our churches made up of folks over 60 we cannot afford to have our senior saints not be involved in ministry. They have wisdom and experience that can make them more valuable and more capable than younger volunteers.
Myth 3. This church doesn’t need me, they have plenty of people who can help. If that were true then churches wouldn’t continually beg for workers. Recently I was at a church that in the past had a dynamic ministry of community support groups. I personally knew of people who came to Christ as a result. I was shocked as I asked a member how the ministry was going. Their response, “We don’t offer that anymore. We couldn’t find enough volunteers.” There is much more to do than we have man power for. In Luke 10:2 Jesus stated it best when he announced, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” We have so many who are doing more than their share, who need some help. You can take a huge load of someone just by volunteering to help them out. One of the best things you can do is to approach one of your ministers and say, “Where can I offer the most help?” After he picks himself off the ground he will likely point you to a ministry that is in desperate need of your giftedness.
Myth 4. When I get too busy with other things I can let my service at church slide. Let’s talk about those “other things” that are making you too busy. I know how it is. I have four children. They are all involved in activities, school and social events. That is important. But when you say that you are too busy with other things, do those “other things” have kingdom value? Matthew 6:33, “he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern.” “Primary Concern.” When you say things like “I am too busy with other things to serve at church.” Don’t you basically admit that the kingdom of God is not your primary concern? I know we are all busy. I don’t want to make light of that. Andy Stanley had a great comment related to that, “Too busy to serve at your local church? Every Sunday you are served by people who are likely busier than you are.” -Andy Stanley.
Myth 5. Ministers are paid to serve, members are to sit back and watch. Eph. 4: 11-12. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Did you know that Paul says one of the most critical components of church growth is for the ministers to equip and the people to serve? It is right there in black and white. Ministers encourage, Ministers build you up, Ministers equip, but every church member is called to serve. God has not called you to be a cheerleader for your ministerial staff, cheering them on from the sidelines while they battle with exhaustion and emotional burnout. GET IN THE GAME! Enter the ministry! The paid staff isn’t the only people in your church with spiritual gifts. It takes all of us to reach the world.