What God Thinks about Volunteer Ministry


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The local church ministry is a volunteer army. Noah Webster pointed out in his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828 that a volunteer is “a person who enters into military or other service of his own free will. In military affairs, volunteers enter into service voluntarily, but when in service they are subject to discipline and regulations like other soldiers.”  This is an accurate picture of the Christian life, as verified by Paul’s instructions to Timothy. “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. To please the recruiter, no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of everyday life.”(2 Timothy 2:2-4, HCSB)  Because the Holy Spirit has uniquely gifted each believer who has been sovereignly placed by God into the local church, every member has the privilege and responsibility to serve in the local church ministry.


There is an ancient story of a Spartan king who boasted to a rival monarch about the walls of his city. Upon arriving, the rival was baffled and asked the king, “Where are the wall in which you boast so much?” The king pointed at his troops. "These," he said, "are the walls of Sparta, every man a brick." A commentator who used this illustration concluded, “The point is clear. So long as a brick lies by itself it is useless; it becomes of use only when it is incorporated into a building. So it is with the individual Christian. To realize his destiny he must not remain alone, but must be built into the fabric of the Church.” (www.preceptaustin.org/1_peter_24-6.htm)

The Apostle Peter uses this same imagery of building in his explanation of the church body. In discussing the theological foundation of the church, he stated, “Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” ( 1 Peter 2:4-5, HCSB) This theological statement is referred to as the “priesthood of believers,” which means that Christians have access to God through Jesus Christ. On three occasions in the Bible (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, and 1 Peter 2:5,9), the word priest is used “for Christians who have been set apart by God for service to God.” (William Mounce, Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) The phrase “priesthood of believers” means that Christians have a duty and a responsibility. Believers are a volunteer army that has been deployed for duty.

Question for Today: Why do some people choose to come to church, occupy a seat, and refuse to serve? I would love to get your comments.

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