I sat in the cafe at church this morning drinking my coffee. Four people were at a table to my left, two interviewing the other two about serving in the church. The questions flowed on a predetermined path from jobs to hobbies and interests.
I know this because, a year ago, I sat through the same interview.
The guy I spoke with gave me a questionnaire that I completed and handed back. I was going to school for my English teaching certification at the time and though I’d help out with the youth program. I met the head youth pastor and was given a binder of information including a link to a pair of videos I was supposed to watch as a form of training. The following week I visited the youth service and shadowed a small group leader.
He was a nice guy and led a group of, if I remember correctly, ninth grade boys. After the service we sat there and talked about the message. The guy leading told me he usually brings some kind of snacks for the boys and plans activities during the week. As he spoke, I was still okay with it. Then I asked:
“So how often do you do this? I mean, is it a rotation or something?”
“Every Sunday,” he said.
Every week. No break. Our church has two morning services. This guy and his family would attend one while he served at the other, every week. I get the concept, to have consistency, but it still made me reconsider.
I mean, how hard should it be to serve?
The early church was instructed to care for the poor, orphaned, and widowed. Jesus preached love and acceptance, stating “what you do to the least of these, you do to me.” The direction is clear and, in Acts, we read of believers selling belongings and giving to those in need.
So what have we done?
We’ve complicated simple instructions. We’ve turned love and provide into analyze and assess. There are numerous organizations out there asking for monetary help. Wait for a natural disaster and you’ll see the donation jars arrive at supermarkets and other public places. Needs aren’t always dictated clearly and, when they are, we don’t always listen.
At one church we attended, a small start-up, the pastor announced to the crowd that my wife would be working in the nursery before he asked her.
Serving has moved from a command to a corporation.
Let’s make it easy. If you want to serve, church is a great place to start, even if not for the church at all. It should be a gateway, a door to direct the curious and interested towards families and charities in need. What if it didn’t take an interview and a weekly commitment? What if it took one conversation for one need met?
No more pressure. No more quizzes or personality tests. No more barriers, political or personal.
The message today was on Jonah, a guy God called to serve and deliver his Word. Jonah ran the other direction. It took a trip to the depths to get the point. It shouldn’t be that way for everyone.
The church and those who claim to follow Jesus are standing at the ledge of a movement, a chance to unleash radical love and service in a world existing in desperation. Jumping off can only happen if we get out of our own way.