The church is the greatest volunteer organization on earth. So vital are volunteers to the mission and ministry – indeed, the very existence – of the church that any church that loses them soon stalls, folds, and dies. Ministry simply can't get done without you.
Volunteerism is so much the heart of our church, New Life, that we make it a condition of hiring: we unapologetically ask every staff member to work beyond their paid hours. On average, each staff volunteers at the church 5-10 hours a week. The little speech I make when we hire someone goes like this: "The ministries at New Life rise or fall on its volunteers – on good people willing to give gladly and generously of their time, talent, and money. We're asking you to do the same – indeed, to go first and set an example. If you only want to work for a paycheque, this isn't the place for you."
I was struck this week by the thought that Jesus was the ultimate volunteer. He willingly came to earth to do the redeeming work of his Father, and received no earthly reward for it. He gave up first heaven, and then even his day job, to undertake a messy and massive task that cost him everything. He wasn't paid for it. He wasn't forced into it. He wasn't even thanked for it.
He volunteered to do it, and he did it all with joy.
That's whose example we follow, however modestly.
Every church needs volunteers. Quite simply, we can't do church without them, without you.