The Kingdom Needs You!


Top Ten Reasons to Get Involved in Kingdom Work

  • When you stay home, you get too many telemarketing calls.
  • Your family could use a break from you.
  • You might need to help yourself some day.
  • It’s hard to win a game of solitaire.
  • Soap operas all sound alike.
  • If you don’t go out each day, you get old.
  • Why let your boss have all the fun in life?
  • The car needs a workout.
  • Your mom would be proud of you.
  • Who cares about money?
    Unknown Submitted by Joy Pople, Baldwinsville Volunteer Center, Baldwinsville NY

I once heard a Baptist preacher say, “There are two things I would never want to be. The front pew of a Baptist church or the third verse of a Baptist hymn because neither is ever used.” As a Lutheran, our front row doesn’t suffer too much wear and tear either.

We have an innate desire—even a need, you could say—to be useful and to be used. Most disgruntled employees are disgruntled because they feel that their employer isn’t maximizing their skills. People want to be helpful, and they want to be used. Ask any player in the NFL if he would rather be the highest paid back-up or the lowest-paid starter, and the overwhelming majority would say, “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.”

Everyone Has Something To Offer

God is calling you to be useful. The harvest wants you to be useful, and in Ephesians 4 Paul teaches us about how God seeks to use each one of us. Listen to his words.

(v. 7) He [God] has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ. Eph 4:7

The word translated gift can also be translated grace or even ministry. One commentary I read said this verse can be translated, “to each of us ministry has been given…[The NIV Application Commentary, Ephesians, Klyne Snodgrass]

Paul is talking about our usefulness. He’s saying, “As a member of the body of Christ, you have been given a special gift, a special grace, a special ministry, that Jesus designed especially for you. You have been equipped and empowered by the King of the Universe to accomplish this mission.”


Whether your gift is or isn’t obvious it exists. To help you maximize your gift or ministry, Paul teaches that God has given the church a team of leaders whose job it is to prepare you, train you and release you for ministry.  Once you have been sent, you go with a clear message, shout to the world in word and action that the reign of Jesus Christ has begun.  Christ and His church are ministering to a hurting and a lost world. This is how Paul said it:

(v. 11) He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ… Eph 4:11

God’s plan for the kingdom.  Our ministry should reflect Christ’s example and compassion for the lost.  God has a plan for you, a ministry for you. He has given you a special gift to accomplish it.  The Holy Spirit gives you the power to achieve it. Maybe your ministry exists within the parameters of this local church, but your kingdom impact expands far beyond your local flock or your established ministries organization. Look around you. Kingdom work occurs beyond our limited boundaries.  Impact happens in the workplace, or in your neighborhood, or even halfway around the world.  Don’t put God into tiny boxes and then sit on the lid.  God is bigger than that, the kingdom is greater than that. You are more important than that.

You are useful. You are valuable to God. You can be used by God and His Church to help accomplish God’s mission. He has a place for you to serve him, and he has given you the grace you need to do it. The strength you need to accomplish. He has also given you a community of believer around you to encourage in it.  And all the gifts necessary to achieve it. So never lose hope in living out the mission you were called to fulfill.



Four Proven Ways to Recruit Volunteers


This story appeared in the popular series “Chicken Soup for the Soul.Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and severe disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother and asked the boy if he would give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, ‘Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.’

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale, and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, ‘Will I start to die right away?’ Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he would give her all his blood.In this life, we know how hard it is to recruit volunteers. I have often heard people use the analogy; it is like trying to get blood from a turnip.  My mission in this post is to give you some important things to consider when attempting to find those high-quality recruits. Often when people talk about these types of issues, they will give you business models.  Just to make this more enjoyable.  I will show you how Jesus recruited volunteers.  Here are four key factors to consider.

How Jesus recruited volunteers.

1.     Jesus Lead with Vision.

As he approached the fisherman, Andrew and his brother here is the exchange.

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:18-19 

Notice what Jesus does.  He says come with me and join me on a mission that will change the world.  What you are doing now is honorable work.   It is important, but do you want to come and join me as well announce to the world that the kingdom of God is near?  Who wouldn’t throw down their nets and sign up for that opportunity?  Do we offer high capacity people the chance to join you on a mission that is so important that they could change the world?  Whatever purpose you want people to join you with, make sure you lead with a vision.   Be clear where this volunteer effort will result and the impact it can have on the world.

2.     Connect to their passion.

“Immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John, his brother, in the boat with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets, and he called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matthew 4:20-22

What would make a person leave the family business and poor ole dad in the ship to go off and follow this Rabbi?  Jesus connected these men to a compelling vision and their passion.  You are already fisherman.  Instead of just catching and selling fish what if you could help people connect with the Savior?  When you want someone to give something they value – their time – you need to offer them something that awakens a passion.  So find out what your volunteers are passionate about before you ask them to volunteer.

3.     Be Clear about Expectations.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” 1 Corinthians 1:17

Jesus was clear about what his mission was going to do.  He was laser-focused.  He did not have time to develop a ten-year plan.  There were no committees nor focus groups established to discuss the marketing of this vision.  Jesus only had a little over three years to hit all the goals God has set for the Messiah to accomplish.  So Jesus needed volunteers who were clear about the expectations.  You are here to become “fishers of men.”  Are you clear about what you expect your volunteers to do?  What I see far too often are volunteers who are discouraged because they do not have a clue what is expected of them.  When that happens volunteers quit, and they spread the word. Don’t waste your time.  They have no idea what they are doing, and you will just get frustrated and waste your time.

4.     Make Sure your Volunteers have the needed Training and Resources.

Jesus did not simply recruit volunteers; he also poured into their lives.  He instructed them.  Jesus equipped them for the mission work.  And he gave them the power to accomplish the ministry.  See the verses below.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

And with great power, the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33

Volunteers vs. Disciples

No more dancing around the real issue.  We are not recruiting volunteers in the church.  Recruiting volunteers imply we are trying to fill an institutional need. We are equipping disciples for the mission.  The church is seeking to take on the gates of Hell.  Disciples are not called to give a few hours of their free time a couple of weekends every six months.  Jesus calls His followers to “take up their cross and follow him.”  He says, be ready to face persecution even death.  That is not what volunteers sign up for, that is what disciples do.  Our mission is critical.  Our time is limited.  We need quality followers with passion, spiritual gifts and a commitment to see the mission accomplished.  Our single work is carrying out the message of salvation to the world that desperately needs to connect with the Risen and Ascended Savior, Jesus Christ. Go and gather that army.  Train them.  And send them out on the mission.

Other posts in this series:







How to Motivate Volunteers Like Jesus


This is a famous fable about four people in the church whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

The church had financial responsibilities, and Everybody was asked to help. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. But you know who did it? Nobody. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Then the church grounds needed some work, and Somebody was asked to help. But Somebody got angry about that, because Anybody could have done it just as well and, after all, it was Everybody’s job. In the end, the work was given to Nobody, and Nobody did an excellent job.

On and on this went. Whenever work was to be done, Nobody could always be counted on. Nobody visited the sick. Nobody gave liberally. Nobody shared his faith. In short, Nobody was a very faithful member.

Finally, the day came when Somebody left the church and took Anybody and Everybody with him. Guess who was left. Nobody![1]

When I read this fable, it just reminds me of how hard it is to motivate Anybody to do the mission work that Jesus gave Everyone to do. So, in the end, we have Nobody willing to volunteer in the church.  I want to share with you some ways Jesus motivated his followers.

Six ways Jesus Keep the Disciples motivated:

1)    Be a leader worth following

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:35-37

Jesus was not like typical king or religious leaders.  He did not look at the crowds and see them as people who should serve him.  Instead, he looked out and with a compassionate heart asked, “How can I serve them?”  He was a leader worth following.  A leader worth laying down your life for.  A leader worthy to take up your cross to help.

2)    Set an example

Jesus left us with a discipleship model. You watch, I do, we talk.  I do, you help, we talk. Then You do, I help, we talk.  You are sent, I watch, we celebrate, and God’s kingdom expands.

3)    Create an environment where they can grow

Jesus was there to protect them and allow them to grow.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10: 26-31

4)    Make life interesting

“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons”. Matthew 10:5-8

Following Jesus is rarely dull.  After spending time preparing the disciples for meaningful impact in the world.  Jesus sends them out with the message of salvation they had heard Jesus proclaim countless times.  But he had them start out slow.  Go first to the Jews.  In other words stay for now in your comfort zone.  He wanted them to experience success.

My first door-to-door evangelism experience was in a rural white suburban neighborhood.  I want you to picture this.  I am a six-foot-five and two hundred sixty-pound African American male.  I walk up and ring your doorbell say, “Hello”, and then jump into the old Kennedy evangelism questions.  “If you were to die tonight…?” That is about as far as the conversation went before the door was closed and the police called.

Jesus had the divine wisdom not to put his disciples in a position that they would fail and become discouraged.  Are you putting volunteers in a position that they are doomed to fail?  If so, rethink that strategy.

5)    Offer incentives

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.  The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” Matthew 9:40-41

I am not necessarily encouraging you to pay your volunteers.  What I am saying is given them some incentive.  Let them know that their time and effort is necessary and critical to the ministry of the church and our Lord Jesus Christ.

6)    Stir the pot

 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 9:34-39

Remind people that the work they are called to do has the power to change the world.  Jesus did not come into the world to bring peace but the stir things up.  He began to shake the foundations of the world.  To turn the world upside down.  Jesus came to fix what was broken and restore what was lost.  He came to redeem the world and reconcile a lost world through his death and rising to life again.  And we are joining him on this mission.  We are called to be people who stir things up.  Embrace your calling.  Be empowered by the task ahead.  You are world changers.

Other posts in this series:


[1] Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


How Not To Recruit Quality Volunteers


“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign

around his or her neck that says,

‘Make me feel important.’

Not only will you succeed in sales,

You will succeed in life.” –Mary Kay Ash


Spending the last twenty plus years of my life in church work has afforded me the opportunity to work with hundreds of churches.  Through all those contacts one common theme arises.  During our conversation about ministry, we get to this problem.  “We need more volunteers.”  It is a problem that is not limited only to the church.  It is a nationwide crisis.  We are all looking for high-quality volunteers.  Out of this need has grown this blog series.   I want to help churches in particular figure out the key to finding quality volunteers.  Since I am sarcastic, let me start with the absolute wrong way to address the issue.

I am from the deep south.  We love our football down there.  And might I say we are pretty darn good at football?  Schools in the south have a knack for finding the best recruits. They have overcome the negatives of playing in oppressive heat and humidity.  One thing coaches in the south do not do belittle their programs.  Could you imagine Nick Saban of the University of Alabama, walking into a top recruits house and sitting down with his parents and talking about how winning a national championship is not their goal?  Imagine him telling the recruit we don’t practice all that hard?  There is little commitment required to do well.  And we don’t expect you to make a big difference determining our success?  As a matter of fact, anyone could do what we are asking you to do.  Are your ready to sign up and come and practice in the heat of Alabama?  I would guess not.  Then why do we do that to people we are asking to serve in the church?

Here are some common mistakes people make in recruiting volunteers: 

1)    Downplay the importance of the task.

I remember meeting with a church counsel once that for a solid year could not find a single soul to serve as vice-president of the congregation.  So I asked the group, “So what are you telling potential volunteers?”  The Chairperson responded, “Well that this job does not require much effort.  You maybe need to chair two meetings a year.

And it’s not hard because no one is expected to follow through on what they have committed. The congregation doesn’t hold us accountable.  The congregants are just happy we keep them in the loop. We have been vacant for over a year, and no one has noticed.”  So I said to him.  “You are asking people to give up their valuable time for a job that has no kingdom impact.  Requires no special skills to accomplish.  That has no desired outcome, and no one has even cared enough to notice it is vacant. No thanks. I could be playing golf.”

Think about the last time you attempted to recruit someone.  Was the example above your best sales pitch?  “Come one come all and sign up for this insignificant, mindless, talentless, small commitment volunteer position. I know how busy you are so this won’t take much of your time.  And we don’t even care if you do it well.”

Doesn’t God’s mission deserve more?  Shouldn’t we challenge people to give God their best not just their leftovers?  Is that good stewardship?  Just something to think about.

2)    Don’t Provide Training.

Here is a famous illustration about passing down behavior.

The new Jewish bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother’s brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did. Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, “Why do you cut off the ends — that’s the best part!” She answers, “That’s the way my mother always made it.”

The next week, they go to the old bubbie’s house, and she prepares the famous brisket recipe, again cutting off the ends. The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she asks her grandma why she cut off the ends. Grandma says, “Dahlink, that’s the only way it will fit in the pan!”

Make sure you give people a task and do not train them.  I served several congregations where there was no orientation for new board members. What training they did get was from someone leaving the position who had to figure out the job on their own.  So whatever bad habits he inherited now are being passed on to the new person.  Before you create a culture where you just do things because the previous person did it, find out what is the proper way to do it.  Then provide adequate training and orientation for your people.

If you want to find quality people,  make sure what you are asking them to do is important.  Give them a vision for how this ministry is relevant to the work of God and his kingdom.

More posts on volunteers: