Here’s a question for you: When do you start thinking about going to church each week? If you’re like me when I was your age, it’s probably about an hour before you leave for services. Maybe you’re a little more thoughtful than that, and actually pick out your clothes the night before.
While those approaches aren’t wrong per se, they’re not really ideal. As part of our worship of God, the Sabbath should be a key thought in our mind—whether it’s an hour before services, or on Tuesday afternoon. We should be looking forward to the rest God gives us each week, as well as spiritual food provided through sermons, hymns, special music and fellowship. While we only go to church once a week, that shouldn’t be the only time we think about God, our faith and our Church family.
Let’s consider another question: How can you serve at church? This question relates directly to our first question, because if you’d like to help with Sabbath services, chances are there is some planning that will need to go into it.
How can you serve?
What ways can you serve at church? Sometimes, we look at the things that go on during services and it seems like there’s nothing to be done. The pastor usually gives the sermon. He also takes care of assigning the sermonette speaker and songleader. There might be an opportunity to do special music, but not everyone has those particular talents. So, are you stuck with no opportunity to serve?
As a pastor, I can share with you that there are a lot of jobs that need to be done each week to make services happen—jobs that don’t involve standing behind the pulpit. Someone likely has to arrive early and unlock the building, turn on the lights, perhaps set up chairs and set out song books. While perhaps only a few people in your congregation have a key, I’ll bet they could use some help with the other tasks they do each week.
Once people begin to arrive at church, it’s nice to have someone greet them, especially if they are new. Perhaps they are wondering what time services begin, or if there’s a place they can hang up their coats, or where the restrooms are.
These are all questions you can likely answer easily and would be a great service to anyone new or who might be visiting from another area.
Then there’s things like coffee and snacks. Perhaps your congregation has someone already assigned who schedules who will bring what each week. But I promise you, they are always looking for additional volunteers to help out.
Does your congregation have a parent’s room or youth instruction? If you’re old enough to receive your own copy of Compass Check, chances are you don’t need those services yourself, but you may be among the most qualified to help serve in those areas.
Perhaps you serve now, and that is wonderful. But as you grow and mature, the ways in which you can serve expand. For example, picking up song books after services is a big job for a six- year-old. But by the time you’re 16, you can handle more responsibility.
What about sound, webcast or other tech stuff? As a guy who worked on sound for 30+ years, let me just say, don’t be surprised if you see tears of joy coming from your A/V crew’s eyes if you volunteer to help out. It’s not an easy job, but is very rewarding, especially if you’re a tech buff!
Find out the needs you can fill
Okay, so now you’re all excited and ready to help out at services next week. You show up with a plate of cookies that you set on a table near the back for others to enjoy. Then you decide you’ll set out hymn books on the chairs, just as you’ve seen others do for years. Finally, you take it upon yourself to get out the microphone and place it in front of the podium where it normally is.
These are all great ways to serve, but there’s a couple of problems . . . No one noticed your cookies because today there is a special cake being served to honor a couple in your congregation who are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was nice to set out the hymn books, but unfortunately, a few of the younger children had hoped to help with this task this week and are left with hurt feelings. And that mic you set out? Well, it’s actually the old one that is being replaced because of poor sound quality, and the regular sound crew wound up taking it away and swapping it for a new one.
Did you do anything wrong? No, not at all. But it brings up an important point: While it’s very good to serve your Church family, it’s a good idea to talk to the people in charge of various things before you decide to do them on your own. There may be reasons things are done or not done a certain way every week, and perhaps by doing too much, we rob others of an opportunity to serve. They may also need help with tasks you aren’t aware of.
Of course, there are a lot of ways to serve that don’t really require checking with someone first. Having a conversation with someone who has no one to talk to, helping someone carry their things to or from the car or just being a smiling, friendly face are all great ways to serve too!
This probably seems like an obvious question with an obvious answer, but let’s think about it for a minute. What would happen if no one served? Assuming everyone knew when and where church was supposed to be (don’t forget—writing the bulletin and updating your congregation’s local website are ways to serve too), things might be rather chaotic if no one had put any planning into serving that week. Where are all the chairs? What do I do with the cookies I brought to share? Does the microphone even work?
The apostle Paul said, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Apply this principle to the weekly needs at church. If no one knows what to do or bothers to do any of the jobs we’ve mentioned thus far, things would be pretty crazy!
Then there’s Philippians 2:4 to consider, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” While we want to be able to go to church and see friends, have snacks and learn more about how to be closer to God, we must remember we aren’t the only ones who want to do that. By volunteering to serve, we are looking out for the interests of others.
However, it’s important to remember the main reason we serve. It’s not to be noticed by others, or try to receive some sort of reward, praise or favor. Christ said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Whenever and wherever you serve, let your service be done in a way that brings honor and glory to God!