Growing congregations are filled with disciples instead of volunteers. The big issue, when we volunteer, is that we set the agenda-when, how much, where, and what it is we will volunteer for. We are not tied down to anything or anyone. The person in charge (who is usually paid) often treats volunteers like royalty-tip- toes around mistakes, and finds it hard to hold volunteers accountable. The volunteer, ultimately, controls the situation.
The church is NOT a "volunteer organization." Jesus calls us disciples. There is a difference. When you are a disciple you don't give up your time. You realize that you possess (or own) no time of your own. God created you, gave you life and time in this life. So it is His time.
We are not volunteers, to do what we want and to come and go as we wish. The church is the body of Christ called to discipleship. In baptism we are freed from the power of sin, death, and the devil, and we are freed from idolatry of self. To be freed from self is to be open for call. To be open for call is truly to be open to God.
What would the church be like if we were to see ourselves as disciples rather than volunteers? Disciples are more committed than loyal. Disciples act without regard for admiration or recognition. They don't want their name on a plaque. Their reward (in heaven!) is great enough.
A disciple's glory is always directed toward God.
G. Allan Kerr. Retired priest in the Diocese of Lichfield