Ministry Growth: Create Your Discipleship Strategy (BRETT WRITE)
Church Growth: How To Create Impactful Church Graphics

Are Volunteers Even Biblical? (EDITed)

In order to solve your volunteer problems, let’s take a look at volunteering in the Bible to see if we are using the same model we see in Scripture.

The first place I looked was to the stories of the New and Old Testaments. I wanted to know where I could find a Biblical figure asking their followers to volunteer in their ministry. Or instead, I could find a follower requesting to volunteer in Jesus ministry.

I couldn’t find any such story, so I went looking for passages that discussed volunteering. Here is a cursory look at what I found:

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.: Gal 6:10

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matt 25:40

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Prov 11:24

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:33-34

As you will notice, none of these verses mention volunteering.

That begs the question, is volunteering even Biblical?

While the verses don’t mention volunteering, many of them do mention giving. But isn’t that the same thing? Aren’t volunteers just giving to the Church?

Yes and no.

Let’s first identify what a volunteer is.

Volunteer: A person who freely offers their time and energy to support an undertaking.

Do we see Jesus recruiting volunteers to follow Him around every Sunday and take care of His needs?

What about Paul? What about the Apostles?

No, No, and No. There were no volunteers, there were only Disciples.

Disciple: A follower or student of a teacher.

The process of discipleship is very different from the process of volunteering.

When someone volunteers, they show up and give you their time and energy so you can do other, seemingly more important ministry tasks. This often means the ministry leader will turn their focus back to the front door.

Much like volunteers, disciples must sacrifice (give) time and energy when they commit to a teacher. Unlike with volunteering, the sacrifices involved in discipleship are FAR GREATER. Jesus’ disciples sacrificed family time, their job, and their home. They lived alongside Jesus all day, every day, because they wanted to become like the Man who was teaching them.

Also unlike what we see in volunteering, JESUS WAS AS COMMITTED TO THE DISCIPLES as they were committed to Him. Jesus gave the disciples His time, energy, effort, teaching, and financial resources. Can you believe that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords gave some hillbilly fishermen loads of His TIME? That’s the most valuable time of the most important Person Who ever walked the earth, and He gave it to these ordinary people because they committed to Him. He also gave them training, exhortation, education, purpose, life calling, etc.

In fact, Jesus gave the disciples far more than what they had given Him. This was why they agreed to become His disciples – because He had met their needs even before they committed, so they knew He would continue to meet their needs to an even greater degree after they made the commitment. They chose to keep following Him because He kept giving to them.

So let’s get back to the initial question – are volunteers Biblical?

There is nothing wrong with a volunteer who freely gives their time and energy to your ministry. There is something wrong with the idea that it’s the volunteer’s duty to give to the church, when the church does not give them anything in return.

Jesus didn’t have volunteers from whom He accepted free gifts. He had disciples who gave their lives to Him (committing more than any volunteer you will find in a church), and Jesus gave His life to them in return.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *