As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 125:2
We had a VAN at Awaken Church this week. You may be thinking well thats great, I have a car or perhaps a truck, and if a “van” is your speed, well then hammer down my friend. If that is your thought, we may not be on the same page. The Awaken Church staff hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Night, hence the acronym VAN. As a staff we wanted to thank those who do so much for Awaken and most of all in service to God. These volunteers aren't like your “normal” run of the mill kind of volunteers. These volunteers work tirelessly, consistently, and humbly for the pursuit of Gods kingdom and the growth of the local and Big “C” church.
Allow me to pause for a moment and once again say, “THANK YOU”.
During this night of thanks for these amazing people we sat around the dinner table and broke bread together, we had a time of prayer and devotion, followed up with games and fellowship, and to end the night we prayed over the Volunteers as we venture into the new service year. We laughed, we ran around chasing beachballs and acted out some amazing charades. But last night was more than a game. Last night was more than a time to say thank you. Last night was an opportunity for Awaken church to see what the true heart of Awaken Church is, and what the true heart of God is. We don't simply host such events to pat you on the back and give you a participation trophy on your way out, we do this in an effort to dive into the heart of Awaken, to see a crystal clear picture of how God intends our lives to be. You see, when you selflessly give yourself to and for something thats much bigger than you, you experience God.
When you begin to look at the amount of volunteers we have at Awaken we cannot help but to be humbled by the things that God is doing. From a small church plant that operated out of a local school, to a church that is bursting at the seams in a beautiful facility, we must remain humble. Its not “us” as a church that makes this happen, its not an overwhelming urgency for people in the Columbia Metro to cram into these four walls, its God speaking through our “Awaken blessings”, our Awaken Volunteers.
In as early as 1648 there was a volunteer "rattle watch" who patrolled the streets of New York. If a fire was discovered these people would sound an alarm and help organize bucket brigades. Thus creating the birth of the American Fire Service. If you’ve been alongside any firemen for a given period of time you’ll notice that history is huge portion of who we are. We often reflect back on the days of hip-boots and long coat firefighting from tradesmen who wanted to help their communities. Their passion drove them, their desire to serve others propelled them, & the love for their city and those in it fueled them. But their hearts are the same as those of Awaken Church. You see, the heart of volunteering is that it’s all about God, loving people, serving people, and investing into others’ lives.
We often look at volunteering as some sort of charitable work that we do in our spare time. (Whats spare time, right?) We tend to fill our schedules of monotonous tasks that make us feel “accomplished”. We check the “to-do” list of american suburbia and think we are keeping up with the Jones’. No offense, but who cares what the Jones’ are doing in their day to day lives. Isn't our pursuit of God much bigger than what they have on their schedule? Isn't making time to serve the Lord a better investment of our most treasured asset? We value time in such high regard sometimes that we fail to realize that its the same time God has provided us since birth. Its the same time that God blesses you with in this very moment as you read this blog. When we pause and really think about what God has afforded us how do we not leverage our time around serving - volunteering for the local and Big “C” church?
When looking into volunteering don't consider it to be work, Observe the following Four Keys to volunteering:
1.) Volunteering creates family - Who doesn't want to be a part of a larger family? Who doesn't want to be a part of a group of people with a common interest and love for God? Volunteering allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Its not about simply performing tasks, but about doing life together - becoming family.
2.) Volunteering is a sacrifice - I know this seems a bit harsh, but its actually a celebration. God loved you so much that he gave his son as a living sacrifice for you. Wouldn't it seem only appropriate to celebrate that sacrifice by giving you up your time in service to your creator? Don't we “say” we volunteer out of or love for Jesus, people, and the church? Volunteering your time creates a domino effect of service. Once the first one falls you’ll have a craving for the next opportunity to make a difference.
3.) Volunteering unlocks your potential - Volunteering allows us to discover what it is that God has placed on our lives. From creativity to leadership to administration, who knows. God has different gifts and talents for each and every one of us. Use and grow in these gifts.
4.) Volunteering is about service - Serving people is ultimately what volunteering comes down to. Its not about becoming well known or “climbing the ladder” of biblical success. Its all about God, loving people, serving people, and investing into others lives. Have you ever been to a “Full Service” gas station? Where you the one in the car getting fueled up? Is that last statementtwo fold? Your vehicle was getting the needed quantity of “go juice” simultaneously as you! You cannot help but to feel amazing as you were being waited upon. This is what volunteering is all about. Putting others before yourself, becoming the one who is in second place.
Partnering with God in the local church is a huge honor. In whatever way, through whatever gifts and talents we have, we all play a significant part in serving people and moving the church forward. I challenge you if you”re not volunteering to search your heart and consider all that Gods done for you. To consider what it would look like to give back to there the vast quantities of blessings we receive daily. If you’re already volunteering, again I want to say thank you.
As you know, its more than just a game.