Fulfilling the responsibility that I am entrusted with necessitates my meeting a lot of people.  All of my adult life I have been surrounded by volunteers.  In the not-for-profit world the vast majority of folks we work with are volunteers.  They go to work, come home and take care of their families and then rush off to volunteer at the church.  We seem to expect that this is how it works.  How often have we stopped to thank the host of volunteers who help us each and every week?  Yes, we always need more volunteers.  It would seem to me that one of the first steps to having more volunteers is thanking and appreciating the ones we have presently.

The natural tendency is to harken back to the good old days when volunteers showed up early and stayed late.  Yesterday was simpler than today.  Another thing about yesterday, it is gone and is never coming back.  Granted, todays world is exceedingly more complex.  Our children are much more involved in various activities.  Years ago there were no three day weekends.  Many families in my neighborhood growing up did not take a vacation except to go back to the old home place and visit with family.  Vacations in those days did not have the words “Disney” or “beach” associated with them.  Vacation meant we were going to paint the house and clean out the garage and yes the children were going to participate.  In those days vacations were not the long anticipated events that they are today.  Now everyone goes somewhere on vacation and no one could imagine not leaving town.

volunteers at work

But look around this Sunday and you will see this nearly invisible army of volunteers.  They will hand you a bulletin, receive the offering, teach Sunday School and small groups.  They will help lead worship and take care of babies in the nursery.  In some churches they will help to clean and maintain the facility.  In a few places the person preaching is basically a volunteer.  Without whom we could not keep the  doors open.  Some of the best leadership in America is being done in churches where a pastor leads an entirely volunteer organization.  Many Sundays as I gather at a different place of worship, the pastor will say to me, several of our people are gone today.  I have a standard answer.  “Pastor don’t worry about it, it is a miracle that anyone shows up.”  No one has to go to church and no one has to come to my church. You are aware in our country no one has to go to church.  If they don’t attend church you cannot make them be there. Yet week after week they show up and give offerings and volunteer.  The average church member is an amazing miraculous person.  A volunteer.  Not a paid volunteer, but a paying volunteer!  So the next time you are tempted to criticize what they don’t do.  At least stop for a moment and thank God for the wonderful people who show up and make a difference.  Thank you for your service for the Lord and the church.  We could not do what we do without your extraordinary leadership and help.  So today let us pause from the complaining and griping and just say thank you.   We really could not do what we do with you.

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