I always tell people that Old First is a volunteer-heavy operation. As a church, we are serious about our service. And so with relatively humble resources, we accomplish a lot — because we rely deeply on the help of others.
It takes a whole, holy bunch of bodies each week (and their whole hearts) to pull off worship and fellowship hour, Saturday Breakfast and Cupboard and Sunday Dinner. Some weeks there’s a Service Camp too. Luckily, we attract help from beyond our immediate community; actually, we could not do all that we do in our outreach and service were it not for all the people from beyond our church who are consistently involved. We are blessed…
But we need a lot from Old Firsters too. (Sometimes we worry that we are so volunteer-hungry in our ministries, that new folks get involved deeply, quickly and burnt out.) But all this work going on- it often happens when not everyone is around to see. That’s a shame, because it’s beautiful to see folks giving of themselves for others.
One of the things we have realized in this period after the COVID restrictions have lifted, and we are feeling our way into hybrid ministry, is that less participation weekly also means fewer potential volunteers to enlist. The Survey we completed this fall also made that point graphically.
The Community Life SLG, in response, is asking us to try a different way of hosting fellowship hour (read all about it in the article titled “Fellowship Hour Hospitality — a New Model”). And we might find ourselves making other changes about how we enlist help from within our community and from without. We need to make volunteering more accessible, but also supported more.
Right now, I want you to understand that this year, we’re starting to bring a new focus on all that our volunteers accomplish. We are going to begin recognizing, appreciating, thanking our volunteers more visibly and regularly. Each week, they will be listed in the E-pistle and in the Order of Service. I might ask that you pray thanksgiving for their commitment, effort and effect.
Volunteers are central in the life of the church. Remember Jesus says we are “to give our lives away.” Or how he models for us, “I came not to be served, but to serve.” I think we are even going to do something on volunteerism as a program piece during the Congregation’s Annual Meeting on January 28.
In this sense I have been talking about, Christianity / church – with the emphasis on self-giving and service – is to be “an engine” for people doing for others. That’s one of the reasons church is a potluck supper more than a restaurant. Because people need to serve. We hope to be not just a place of service, but also motivation and inspiration for service and training for service, both for that which you do with us at church and also for service you undertake or that takes you far past our four walls.
Thanks, good and faithful servants! And I hope to see you in church, online and in the Sanctuary…