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When I was a teenager, I volunteered at camp every summer. I loved camp. I loved hanging out with the kids, I loved planning games, working in the kitchen, cleaning cabins — it didn't matter. As long as I was at camp, I was happy. I wasn't making money, but I loved camp so much that the experience outweighed the $8 an hour I could have been making working at a fast food restaurant every summer.
Some of that camp passion transferred over to my church when I was in college. As soon as I was old enough, I volunteered as a leader for my church youth group. I loved spending Wednesdays with the youth and spending time with the girls or hosting sleepovers at my dorm. Because I enjoyed it so much, it didn’t feel like work.
Since college, I have tended to volunteer in the coffee shops of the two churches I have attended in Colorado. I love hosting people at my home: I enjoy having people over, making food, and helping people feel welcome. Volunteering at the church coffee shop seemed like the best way for me to transfer my hospitality skills to the church. I got to make coffee, visit with newcomers and get to know some of the regulars. At my church in Denver, we started the coffee ministry as a way for people to really connect, talk and get to know one another before or after the service. We wanted it to be more than a cup of hot coffee — we wanted to provide a space for people to connect.
Sometimes the idea of volunteering can feel like a chore or a burden. And, I’ll be honest, sometimes volunteering can be a chore. You are giving your time to serve someone or something. But the good news is that volunteering can be a service and fun when you serve in an area where you are gifted or have interests.
If you're thinking about serving at your church, find out the different areas of service your church has to offer. Most churches have children’s ministry, hospitality ministries, teaching, leading Bible studies, etc. My church in Denver has a homeless ministry, and the volunteers often are just asked to sit and talk with people while they eat a meal. What’s better than a conversation? If you don’t see an area of service in your church that fits your interests or skills, then see if you can start something new. A lot of times church leadership would love to see new things — they just don’t have the time or manpower to do it on their own. Want to see a philosophy small group at your church? Start one! Do you wish your church had weekly potlucks? See if others are interested and get it going!
Finding ways to serve that fit your interests, skills and gifts not only makes it more enjoyable for you, but it will benefit your church congregation as well.
What are some ways you serve that fit your talents? Or, if you are thinking of serving in your church, what areas are you interested in?
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--Great post, Denise!
I'm sorry for the delayed response, but between church and work, this fall has been very busy.
Currently, I am thrilled to be able to lead adult inductive Bible studies at my church. As I've served in various areas, I've found that teaching is one of the gifts with which God has gifted me. That's why I think it's great to engage in various types of service- you can learn how you are gifted and where it might be best for you to serve (not saying you only should serve in an area that's your strong suit- nearly anyone can wash dishes). Service began in a small way for me. I started as a child helping once a month in the nursery (at first with my family), then working with older children, and eventually adult groups as I began to grow (and I continue to grow) in that gifting. Several years ago, I was asked to help lead a small group and I did. However, I found that leading the type of small group that it was wasn't the best fit for me. Shortly thereafter, God prompted a person in leadership to ask me to help co-lead the adult Bible study class I'd been attending for awhile. That was six years ago. For the past five years, I've been leading the nightly co-ed Precept Bible studies at my church.
From age 10 and since (I turned 30 this year) I have served in different areas: with children, leading Bible studies and/or small groups, being a greeter, serving in the café, tutoring inner city children, helping with the church potluck once a month, etc.
During my childhood my church had potlucks and I loved them! My parents helped with a monthly potluck for a time and I got to help with them; the potluck was a great opportunity for fellowship and a chance to learn how to work in an industrial kitchen. :)
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