‘As long as it fits:’ discipleship, not volunteerism

… we all too [often] view our involvement in missional church community through the lens of volunteerism. In other words, we love the vision and reality of ministry and want to be involved, as long as it fits. We have discipled entire generations of Christians to see missional engagement as a voluntary opportunity they can add to their lives when it works or isn’t too demanding. This isn’t to say that many people don’t live sacrificially, but rather that the general trend reflects an attitude of optionality. via Disciples, Not Volunteers « A Living Alternative Our Missional Pilgrimage.

I’ve “beaten on this piano key” before, as the Brazilians say. Scripture contains nothing of the language of volunteerism, but rather is replete with the call to take up the cross of Christ. Churches and preachers sometimes speak the volunteer language: “We need volunteers for …”

Certainly, all work must be done gladly and willingly, not grudgingly nor out of the weight of obligation — though the terms of necessity (1 Cor 9:16) and constraint (2 Cor 5:14) are present in Scripture.

Volunteerism means I can take up and quit service at my discretion. It means no one has a demand of me that can be made. It means I can fit it in as long as it’s convenient, and leave it off when it becomes a burden.

Volunteerism, therefore, is hardly an adequate concept for life in Christ and service to God. Let us be done with it and remove it from our lips and faith.

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