Serving and Welcoming Others
Serving in church is often understood to mean a big weekly job. A few hours on a weekday evening with the youth, or homeless outreach. A few hours on a Sunday with the creche, or the catering team. These are vital roles for people to take on. But to leave ‘service’ with just these roles is to underestimate the term.
The Bible talks of the various gifts we are given, and how diverse the church family can be. It’s only right that our list of service should reflect this. In reality, the list of ways to serve in a church would be endless. Have a read of some examples below, which provide just a snippet of the variety, and then pray to God about what He may be calling you to in your church.
Serving in church comes in many forms for me. Some weeks I’ll be reading the Bible passage during the service; other weeks I’ll be standing in the entrance of church with service sheets and a smile to welcome people into the community.
At other times, serving looks like the practical preparation for a service: helping to organise the orders of service, or light the Chapel candles ahead of worship beginning. These might seem like small tasks – but I’ve learned that our church admin can go a long way in creating a space for people to come together to meet with God.
Hannah - Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge
I have been a primary school teacher for 3 ½ years and I find that my time is often very full- something I am sure that lots of people can empathise with! When I first started my job, the way that I served in church changed quite dramatically, which I found really frustrating! I ended up saying ‘no’ to being on rota for Sunday club, leading weekly student studies, helping with the youth group, baking cakes and other events that took place; lots of the stuff I had been involved in previously. I just wasn’t available or I knew that if I said ‘yes’ I would run myself into the ground. My husband recently started as the youth and student worker at our church, so my feelings were emphasised when people (who were just being interested and excited) would ask me, “what’s your role going to look like? ” and “are you going to be doing the youth group and student group with him too?”
My answer was “no…” followed by a fumbled together excuse.
I began to feel ‘less of a Christian’ (which I know now was wrong to think) but it felt like it was the only way I knew how to serve God. It’s taken some time, but I can see some of the things God was teaching me:
- Serving Him is not just being on rota and doing things that are visible to others
- I could serve Him by loving others well 1 Peter 4:8-9 (not scheduled in but just naturally loving others, showing hospitality in the home, texting friends, going for coffee in the school holidays, sharing my life with others, being friendly and welcoming to people at church)
- I could serve the church through prayer (unseen)
- I could serve God by obeying his command to share Jesus with non-Christian colleagues at work (Colossians 4:2-6 and Mark 16:15)
- God has placed me in my school for a reason, I can worship and serve him in how I work and whatever I do (Colossians 3:23) .
- I need time to spend with God. If I am too exhausted and I don’t have the time or energy to get to know Jesus better through devotional time then I’m definitely not going to serving God with the right heart and motivation.
I have by no means mastered any of the above but it’s liberating to know I can serve Him in lots of ways. My whole life is an act of service and worship. I feel like I understand more what it looks like to offer up my whole life to a loving Father who knows my heart and graciously teaches me, forgives me, transforms me through is Son (2 Corinth 3:18) and delights in me living for Him, whatever shape that takes!
Hannah, St Ebbe’s Headington, Oxford
I’ve recently begun to understand serving in church in two different ways. There’s your more obvious ‘official’ forms of serving. For me, that’s leading the student work with my husband. This involves coordinating a group of leaders for a student group of 50 or so, leading sessions, and taking on a few ‘one-to-one’ partners throughout the academic year.
But there’s the more subtle serving as well, which is where I’m learning to invest my energies more regularly. This could mean singing louder in the congregation when it’s a new song that I’ve learnt (as part of the music team) but others around me haven’t. It could mean sitting next to someone on their own. It could even be as small as smiling at the person preaching if they look in my direction. All these actions serve to further the church family, and foster deeper supportive relationships amongst God’s people.
Abby - Beeston Free Church, Nottingham
In September I joined a church revitalisation; we left with a group of 40 from our previous church, to join a church with a congregation of 8-9 which was about to stop meeting. My husband and I previously attended a large church (around 500 congregation), whilst serving there we tended to hone in on different set groups e.g students, etc. Since moving to our new church, serving has looked very different. With a much smaller congregation and staff team of 1(!), it has meant spreading ourselves to serve across different platforms, rather than being committed to serving one certain area. This revitalisation has shown that we need to be committed to serving our church in whichever area is in need that day. For Joe my husband, one week he is preaching, and the next he’s organising mince pies and mulled wine for Christmas Carols! For me I’ll be trying to set up the church's social media presence, and then helping with our creche (of 1!). Much of our current serving in the past months has been ‘on the ground’ e.g vacuuming, making a meal, giving lifts to elderly church members, which is different to the weekly bible studies we were leading at our previous church. For the both of us this has felt like a very different way to serve than we have been used to. However it has also given us the chance to glorify God in ways we wouldn't expect and wouldn't naturally be tempted to serve in. So far it’s been a great reminder that we can serve and glorify our Lord in the very mundane and we are learning so much through it.
Alice - St Martin’s, Stockport
I serve by being part of the music team at Cornerstone church in Nottingham. Music is a gift I have been given by God and I should and want to use it for his glory and purpose. I submit to Him and His church and by doing so am obeying the call to serve it. I serve because Christ also served His church by being obedient to death so that we may have eternal relationship with him. Because I have been forgiven and washed by the blood of the lamb my response is and should always be to completely submit to the will of the Father which includes serving Him and His people at church.
Sally, Cornerstone Church, Nottingham
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