I recently had a chance to reconnect with my friend Yanni over a cup of coffee. Yanni and I served alongside each other for years doing college ministry. More recently he and his bride moved to Texas to help launch a new church in the Austin area.

As Yanni and I caught up we inevitably started talking about ministry – and all of the joys and tension that come as you work with volunteers. One topic that came up was the reality of some volunteers who only show up when it is time to serve. Now depending on your ministry load you might think, “I don’t see the problem…they showed up to serve!” However in a church environment you should be cautious when you notice people are only around when they are “on the schedule.”

There are a number of reasons why a yellow flag goes up in my mind when someone only attends church on the weeks they serve. Here are 3 top reasons:

  • It Devalues Relationships – people are not an island unto themself; they serve as a part of a team. When a person only shows up to serve they miss out on the relationships that occur during “down-time.” There is a bond built in relationships when you serve together and also intentionally see each other “off the clock.”
  • It Cultivates a Me-Focused Heart – The reason for our service is a response to the love of God. When we meet as a church we do so to worship our God, to encourage one another and to grow in our faith. That happens when we serve, but it also happens when we simply attend a service. When a person only shows up because they are supposed to serve it cultivates something in the heart – an attitude that volunteering is about me (what I do) vs. God (and what He has done).
  • It Reflects lack of Buy-In to the Vision – Vision is an essential fuel for any volunteer. We need to constantly be reminded of and reinvested in the vision for the church. When a person only shows up to serve it is an indicator that they might be serving out of duty instead of serving out of buy-in for the vision. Serving out of duty is not a bad thing, but it is settling for less heart investment. The movement of the Church and the vision of the local body are so important – making it worthwhile for me to participate in my church each week, not just the times that I am on the schedule.