If you grew up in the church or even have spent a lot of time being connected to a church, you know that it’s important to serve in the church. Whether you helped out in nursery or participated on the Sunday morning worship team, you were encouraged to “get involved”. As a teen, you may have been a VBS leader. As a young adult, you may have helped out with youth ministries or taught Sunday school. You may have run sound for Sunday morning services or helped in the kitchen for the seniors’ luncheon.
We are all called to serve and be served. We are to be each others’ servants and sacrificially commit our time to help others. Every job is important. We’re all members of the Body, and there’s no job too small.
But does serving mean more than volunteering at church?
Don’t get me wrong—serving our churches is important. We need to support the local church. Without a strong local church, there cannot be effective ministry outside of the church.
But I think that sometimes we get so focused on serving within the church that we forget we are also called to serve outside of the church.
Jesus said he came not to be served, but to serve. Have you ever thought about where he served?
Jesus had the knowledge of a great teacher. He had incredible wisdom, even to the point of teaching the older rabbis in the temple when he was twelve years old. If anyone should have been teaching the Jewish people, it was him. They even expected him to be their savior from Roman rule.
However, nowhere in Scripture do we actually see Jesus spending a lot of his time in the temple. Jesus sought out the broken, the lost, and the outcasts and served them. He served outside of the temple. His entire ministry was focused on reaching the people who were considered to be less-than-righteous.
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But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Matthew 9:12)
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to serve within the local church or that we should ignore the needs of those within the church. Again, the local church needs to be strong in order to minister elsewhere.
However, I think we sometimes forget that we are in the church to prepare for outside-church ministry. I grew up in the church. I started volunteering in the nursery when I was eleven, was a leader a kids’ camps for seven years, led the youth worship team, was a coach for my church’s Bible quizzing program, and participated on the Sunday morning worship team. I’ve also helped out at various other church-related events. However, I could probably count on one hand the number of hours I have spent serving outside the four walls of my church. How much time have I spent ministering to people who haven’t met Jesus? If we are to reach the lost, we must be among them.
I’d like to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and find a way to serve outside the church. To show Jesus to those who haven’t met him. To reach the broken, the sick, the lost.
Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. (Matthew 9:13)