Dear Church Leaders,
As we approach the fall, there is always a phrase that echoes the halls of the church, “How do we get more church volunteers?” The need for more people to carry the mission of Jesus Christ has been true since the earliest church formation, found in the Book of Acts. Funny thing! There is no mention of volunteers being recruited in the Book of Acts. It is implied that people were recruited to serve the Lord and Christian movement, but what did that look like?
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he/she had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The church was a fellowship of believers who did life together. These early Christians devoted themselves to the stories of Jesus and the martyrs who gave their lives (apostles’ teaching). They gathered for real Fellowship with a capital “F,” breaking bread and praying over each other.
Then they got more organized. Someone had to grind the wheat, kneed the dough, and bake the bread to be broken that night. Someone had to clear a space to gather and open their home. Someone had to prepare to receive a new person who showed up… under threat of life at times. All these folks volunteered to serve, but they knew that this Fellowship was life-changing. Funny! The early church does not mention committees.
Maybe we fail to encourage participation because people don’t have time or need for more meetings or responsibilities. What we all seek is real Fellowship, teaching, and communion. This is life changing stuff. So let us not think of new ways to get people to do our church stuff. Let us image a new Fellowship that returns to the early church’s mission of faithful community and encouragement.
I look forward to the next time we can gather in Fellowship for teaching, prayer, and breaking bread together.