Is “Volunteer” a bad word?
As I write this, the Christian Education committee is making plans for Christian Education Volunteer Appreciation, a special day when we can honor the many people it takes to make education and faith formation happen here.
I just read a fellow DCE’s blog that disagrees with using the term “volunteer” for unpaid helpers in the church. She says that volunteering is what you do at a place that is important to you, but not at a place that belongs to you—things like picking up trash at a nearby park or building a Habitat house, or helping at your kids’ school. Basically, she says, you cannot “volunteer” at your own church, just as you cannot babysit your own child (parents just parent their children!). The church belongs to you just as your family does, so of course you help take care of it and its people whom you love. This is much more than volunteering; it is serving your church family in community.
Serving means that you mark those days on the calendar with a reminder so that you don’t forget it. Serving means that you plan ahead to get to church on time, whether everyone in the family looks spit-and-polished or not. Serving is not always convenient in your life but you honor the commitments you have made or find a substitute in plenty of time. Serving means that you are contributing to something bigger than you, something that’s part of who you are. Servants don’t just serve their own but serve all those who are part of their mission.
So in a few weeks, as we recognize and honor all those folks who serve the church in the Christian Education program, let’s remember that we don’t just belong to the church—it belongs to us. These servants are caring for that which is ours.
It’s a good thing to have a staff person for Christian Education. It speaks volumes about who we are as a church and what things are important to us. But one staff person cannot hold a candle to the individuals who use their gifts to teach all of us about the faith, through regular programming, special events, and everyday life. Volunteering, Serving, Discipleship, whatever we call it—it is ministry together, and RRPC is blessed for it.