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Workers working together

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” Helen Keller’s observation of life in general certainly rings true when it comes to congregational life.

This month’s “Free in Christ” article illustrates the freedom congregations have in calling individuals into representative ministry positions. The individuals you read about—two staff ministers and a layperson—received valuable training for their work. Together with their pastors (and teachers, if their congregations operate their own schools), they carry out important work.

Author James Pope
Rev. James Pope, executive editor of Forward in Christ

But those called workers cannot do the work of the church alone. That is not wise, efficient, or biblical. The Lord of the church has directed called workers “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12). In the classroom, I used to encourage students to look ahead to their future work as called workers and not hog the work of the church but remember that gifted people surrounding them want to serve.

It is those gifted people whom I wish to highlight. These individuals serve in elected and appointed positions on congregational boards, committees, and task forces. They implement and oversee policies, manage finances and property, and plan and support programs.

These individuals juggle multiple schedules—family, personal, and work—to help their congregations meet their goals and objectives. They receive no monetary compensation for their work. Their reward is knowing that they are “offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

In addition to these people who serve in official capacities, countless other church members volunteer their time and abilities in ways that are often unseen and, too often, unappreciated. From my own ministry experiences, I think of a man who showed up at church every Saturday morning to sweep the sidewalks so they would be free of debris on Sunday morning. I think of another man who wanted to paint anything that did not move. I think of a woman who made extra trips to church so that the coffee would be ready for Bible class.

All these church workers, along with called workers, paint a beautiful picture of workers working together.

But as many congregations today face called worker shortages, congregations are also having difficulty staffing their volunteer positions. The greying of the United States also means the greying of the church. Many faithful church volunteers are no longer able to serve, while many others have gone to heaven. So, what can we do?

  • We can step up and serve as our schedules allow.
  • We can pray for those church volunteers who are serving—pray that God continue to give them strength and joy in their service.
  • We can express our appreciation for church volunteers. Regularly saying thank you with words and actions can let God’s people know their work is valuable and valued.
  • We can pray for the young people of our congregation and then offer them avenues of service. Study after study reveals that young people are looking for meaningful ways of addressing real needs in life.

Before you go, allow me to adapt Helen Keller’s quotation: “By themselves, called workers can do only so much, but when others join them in the work of the church, so much more can be done.” There isn’t any room for competition between called workers and volunteer workers in the church. Instead, there is every reason for cooperation and teamwork. Workers working together.

Author: James Pope
Volume 111, Number 07
Issue: July 2024

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This entry is part 6 of 18 in the series before-you-go

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