Since saying goodbye to Garry Steel last year I have taken oversight of some of the youth work and in that capacity, I have been hugely impressed by those within the fellowship who give so freely of their time and volunteer to help, whether it’s on a Sunday morning or on a Friday night with Zone or whether it’s on a whole weekend away. I also continue to be impressed by the many others outside of the youth work who give so selflessly to make things happen in the community. There are so many people that I can’t thank them individually because if I did I would inevitably miss someone out or run out of space in this magazine.
As followers of Christ we have one priority, to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness – that doesn’t necessarily mean within the local church building on a Sunday. The kingdom call embraces the whole of our lives and for some of us will be lived out primarily within family, work or the life of the local community. I would rather have had Martin Luther King leading the Civil Rights Movement than being unable to march to Selma because he was on the church coffee rota!
However, I am also aware that when he was President of the USA Jimmy Carter also volunteered to teach Sunday School and although I have no experience of that particular job I guess it would keep most of us busy!
Jesus himself was a volunteer and said that he had come not to be served but to serve.
Serving in the local church has many benefits. Here are just a few.
Firstly, it teaches us a practical lesson about our unity in Christ. We serve with others and they may be from a different background or a different part of the world or a different walk of life, they may be from a different age group. There are few places where such diverse people work together – church is one of them. Serving with others gives the opportunity for new and deeper friendships sometimes with the most unlikely people!
Secondly, volunteering helps to clarify what is important in our lives. We might ‘talk the talk’ but do we walk it? The fact is if something is important we make time for it and if it isn’t important we don’t. I find myself regularly evaluating how I spend my time; often there is time but we simply use it badly. Over the last year I have somehow managed to squeeze in half an hour of swimming twice a week before work – that time was always there, I just didn’t use it. When we volunteer we witness to the importance of the gospel in our lives – rather than Netflix or work!
Thirdly, it allows us to be part of the exciting things God is doing in people’s lives. Most of the life-changing things that happen in church are not done by the professionals, by the minister or by the elders but by volunteers who are willing to give a little of their time to serve in ordinary ways and be a part of something extraordinary. As we give our time in serving others God is able to do amazing things through us. And if we are too busy for that, chances are we’re just too busy.
September, with the end of the summer and the beginning of a new school year, is a good time to reflect on our commitments and our use of time. For some of us it may be that we need to stop doing things (or as many things) but for others it may be a good time to start. As we give our time in serving others God is able to do amazing things through us. And if we are too busy for that, chances are we’re just too busy.
Simon Curran (Elder)