Why is there a shortage of servants in church?

Not only will you be filling a need within your congregation — you also will be filled with encouragement, fellowship and joy as you work alongside fellow believers.

Since we returned to regular weekly ministry activities at The Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, one consistent problem has prevailed. 

No, it’s not children’s attendance or people not willing to follow the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It’s a shortage of volunteers.

I’ve served on Wednesday nights with Brook Hills Kids now for four years. The last three years, my class had four leaders (aka, “faith trainers”). This year, there are only two of us. And that’s the same in the other grades in BH Kids. 

So why is there suddenly a shortage of people willing to volunteer at church? Is it because of COVID-19 and some people still limiting their time in public or large groups?

This is possible, of course, but I don’t think it’s the main reason.

I think the culprit is “COVID complacency.” (You’re welcome for that term, by the way!)

Clinging to free time

During the pandemic, most of us couldn’t have had more free time. Between working from home, canceled events and quick, carefully planned trips out in public, there were very few commitments to keep. Gone were the days when someone would be at work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. then hop in the car and head to church to volunteer until 8:00 or 8:30. 

Instead, many woke up mere minutes before they were to report to work on their couch, closed their laptops at the end of the day and stayed home doing whatever they wanted to pass the time. 

And rinse and repeat every day for months and months.

Now that most of the world is returning to some sense of normalcy, it’s no wonder many are clinging to what little free time they can. They may be back working 8-5 in an office, but once the clock strikes 5, they are in the car headed out to spend the evening the way they choose.

I’m guilty of this some days. While I do serve in church on Wednesdays and attend a Bible study on Tuesday nights, I’m selfish with my Monday and Thursday nights. I want to have time to relax at home; I want to be able to crawl into bed early and wake up refreshed the next day. 

It’s human — even healthy — to prioritize time to relax and recharge. 

But at what point does healthy become selfish?

Scripture is clear that as Christians we are called to serve. That is non-negotiable.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).

So I urge each of you to take some time and reflect. 

Get plugged in

How are you stewarding your time and gifts? Are you being selfish?

What gifts or passions has God given you? How are you using them to further the Kingdom and serve the local church?

It won’t look like children’s ministry for everyone. Maybe for some it’s another age group, or a different ministry altogether. Maybe it’s serving on the tech team for worship, or being a greeter before the service. 

Not only will you be filling a need within your congregation — you also will be filled with encouragement, fellowship and joy as you work alongside fellow believers.

There are many ways to serve in your local church. Find what you enjoy. Get plugged in. They need you, and you need them!

Jessica Ingram

Jessica Ingram is a regular contributor to The Rope. She also is the event coordinator for The Alabama Baptist/TAB Media. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2017 and is a member of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham.

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