“Where do you need help?” is not the best question.
One my favorite things to do is to meet with people from our congregation - especially over a good cup of coffee - to learn about them and talk to them about serving with us. Over time, I’ve discovered a pattern in these meetings...no matter a person’s story, her age or how long he’s been attending BRC, the first question they ask regarding serving is this: “where do you need help?” It is a fair question and one I’ve asked before, but it is a question that only scratches the surface of the true purpose of serving.
Let me share a secret with you: we need help everywhere! In a church that is growing in numbers, there will always be more to be done...and that’s the beauty of ministry! The work before us won’t end until we celebrate Jesus’ work in Heaven with Him. Even though we can always use your help, we must look at serving as more than a reaction to the ministerial needs of our congregation. We must look at it as more than having the help and the numbers ministries need to grow. Instead, we must understand that serving is a catalyst for spiritual and personal growth.
You see, the goal of serving is not to have well-staffed teams or to eliminate pressing needs altogether; the ultimate goal of serving is to encourage us to deepen our relationship with Christ and challenge us to be more like Him. Jesus gave all that He was and all that He had for the sake of others. He did not “come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). As followers of Christ, we are called to learn from His example and do as He did. Serving is one of the most direct ways to do exactly that. When we serve others, we choose to show what love looks like in action. We choose to place the needs of others above our own. It is this choice to do as He did and live as He wills that catapults us into spiritual growth. As we imitate Jesus’ ways, we begin to know His heart and allow Him to change ours.
The plus side of getting to know Jesus better through serving is that we get to know ourselves better too. I truly believe God created each of us with passions, gifts and skills in a mix that is singular to each person. After all, we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). As we serve, we discover that the cause that breaks our heart, the experiences that bring us joy, the skills that make us proud have been there all along. God intentionally placed them in you and me to make us, well, you and me! Serving challenges us to use all we are - our passions, our qualities, our gifts - and all we have - our skills, our resources, our experiences - to put love into action. The more we do that, the more we understand who God created us to be. The more we understand who God created us to be, the more we grow personally.
Once I started looking at serving this way, it changed me and the way I approach my faith journey. Personally, my hope is that it will do the same for you. Professionally, it is my job and my pleasure to lead our Serving Ministry to reflect the picture of the Church in Ephesians 4:15-16: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
I pray that through our serving teams we may “grow up in every way into Christ;” may we know Him well and know ourselves well, too, so that in our growth we may also help those around us grow as we build our church in love.
Oh, and next time we discuss Serving, don’t ask, “where do you need help?” ... instead ask, “how can serving help me grow?”