Cliff Edge Volunteers

One encouraging fact to come out of the Olympics was this:  people like to volunteer.\r\n\r\n240,000 people applied to be Olympic volunteers around London, of which only 70,000 (ONLY 70,000!) were chosen.\r\n\r\nThe National Trust runs with the help of over 60,000 volunteers.\r\n\r\nAnd yet, most churches are struggling to get hold of volunteers.\r\n\r\nBut then, most churches don’t have anything as exciting as the Olympics to offer (although we have plenty of old buildings we may end up giving to the National Trust). We may bandy about statements about the worthiness of the church, but the reality is that most churches are dull and introverted organisations. We are creating proportionally more  bureaucracy to serve fewer people in dwindling congregations. The opportunity to serve as a volunteer in church now seems to be propping up creaking structures that should by all other measures be disbanded.\r\n\r\nAnd that is of little or no interest to most people under forty, let alone those under twenty.\r\n\r\nLeaving aside the lack of opportunities for meaningful engagement in church, selecting the right person for the right job in church is not as easy as choosing thousands of volunteers to stand on street corners and point people around London. New volunteers are all very well in principle, but not every volunteer is appropriate for key roles in the church. And those  volunteers who are appropriate are rarely available, being already overcommitted on existing committees.\r\n\r\nNo, what we need is a new focus. And perhaps it should be based on Jesus’ own example. We rarely see Jesus cajoling his disciples to volunteer (feeding 5,000 perhaps). Instead we find him commissioning them way before they were ready to leave the comfort and close proximity to the main group and head off by twos into unknown territory to discover the joys of Cliff Edge service.\r\n\r\nFollowing this pattern, we need to create some new Cliff Edges to walk along outside the church.\r\n\r\nIn Sports Clubs.\r\n\r\nIn Media.\r\n\r\nWith the Poor.\r\n\r\nWith the Rich.\r\n\r\nIn the Arts.\r\n\r\nIn Government.\r\n\r\nWith Business.\r\n\r\nWith Money.\r\n\r\nIn Britain.\r\n\r\nIn the world.\r\n\r\nWith Secularists.\r\n\r\nWith faithful others.\r\n\r\nYou name it. No really … you name it!\r\n\r\nLet’s make the business of volunteering for the church deeply meaningful and inherently stretching.\r\n\r\nAnd how?\r\n\r\nLet’s find out what our volunteers can do, what interests them, what gifts God has endowed them with, and what Cliff Edge only they can walk along.\r\n\r\nThen let’s support them – rather than ask them to support us.