Stephen is one of my favorite characters in all of scripture. He was one of the early servants of the early church, but it’s important to note that Stephen was a table waiter. He wasn’t an apostle, he hadn’t been to Bible college, and he didn’t even have a parking pass to visit church members at Jerusalem General Hospital.
But Stephen served. And it was his selfless service, his “it’s not about me” attitude that caused people to take notice and actually served as a catalyst for the salvation of others.
I’ll go ahead and give you the punch line: if you’re a Christian, service is not an option. You’re hard-wired for it. Your soul craves it. And the surrounding church and community needs it. The one who died for us was and is the Servant-In-Chief. He lay down his pride and took up the wash basin not because he had to, but because he wanted to, and because he demonstrated for us what it looks like to pour out our lives for others.
A recent study of the Summit shows that – on average in our weekend services – we have one adult volunteering for every eight adults attending (or about 12%). That’s an average across campuses: some campuses see a 1:5 ratio (20%), others see 1:11 (9%). But the point: that ain’t good enough.
Now I understand that we have plenty of people who serve outside the walls during the week. This is not an indictment against those who are serving somewhere, rather an encouragement to those who aren’t serving anywhere.
So where do you get started? And how do you determine the best place to serve? On our staff team, we talk about three areas:
- Place of skill. Look at the things that you have a natural talent for. Are you an organized person? Are you great with numbers? Do you have an ear for sound? Your gifts and skill sets – whether they’re hobbies or vocational – can be used to serve the body.
- Place of passion. Do you love kids? Love talking to people? Love one-on-one discipleship? The things that make your heart beat a little faster can be used for ministry. As long as it’s not illegal or immoral, God can use it. (And if it is, we have people with a passion for law enforcement, so win-win!)
- Place of need. What are those things around you? Babies that need to be rocked? Cars that need to be parked? Homeless that need to be fed? Elementary school that needs to be tutored? Every church in America has a wish list: figure out how you can check the box on some of those things.
Now here’s the kicker: you should serve where those three things intersect. Serving according to one area only can be dangerous. You can respond to need only, and you’ll burn out faster than you can say “8th grade boys Sunday School teacher.” You can respond according to passion only, and you’ll look like the highlight reel from the American Idol audition tapes (“Bless her heart, she really thinks she can sing.”) You can respond to skill only, and while you’ll know what to do, you’ll easily forget why you’re doing it.
How about you? Are you serving faithfully? Are you modeling Jesus’ selfless attitude of giving? Is there anything about your life that attracts others to Christ and builds a platform for the verbal sharing of the gospel? Your skill, your passion, and the need around you can inform exactly how you get started.