As a pastor, I want members to be invigorated and encouraged as we work alongside of one another in the gospel mission. We should be growing deeper in our understanding and application of the gospel of Jesus as it applies and transforms every part of our life: worship, stewardship, and relationships.
Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve seen my fair share of people get involved with the local church only to see them feeling burnt out and resentful. The reasons for burnout are many and complex. The question I’m trying to answer: How do we create a fruitful and sustainable environment for people to serve and lead?
A conversation with my leadership team this week got me thinking (again) about this question. First, this environment doesn’t happen by accident! Secondly, it goes beyond volunteerism. Thirdly, it is possible by the grace of God. By God’s grace, we grow into people who engage the world and influence others with the gospel for the glory of God.
As a pastor, I get frustrated when the number of programs outpaces the number of volunteers. In this environment, I see the same poor people taking part in the ministry of the church. It’s like spending more money than you have in your account! It comes down to stewardship. Yes, there are important programs that will always need to be staffed by committed volunteers. But it is up to us keep the community focused on the gospel and not simply programing to keep everyone busy.
If we assume the programs are focused and strategic for the sake of the gospel, then we can enlist volunteers for meaningful involvement. When we focus our efforts and resources on Jesus, volunteers grow into influential leaders by His grace. In this context, volunteers find their identity in Jesus (gospel) not what they do or how much they do. When this is happens a healthy and sustainable environment is taking root and people are growing into influential leaders.
The label “volunteer” describes what a person does and their status in the church. “Leader” denotes ownership of the vision. Thus leaders are influential in and engaged with the world around them. As a pastor, I am to shepherd people along this continuum in my teaching and leading. My personal story has to support this effort or it is over before it begins.
By God’s grace, I’ll be living and serving alongside of partners in the gospel mission. Instead of people headed for burnout, we will become living sacrifices in response to the mercies of God. Gospel leaders’ lives are aromas that attract and testify to Jesus’ saving grace. Our transformation will touch every aspect of our life: worship, stewardship, and relationships.