Brett, Josh and Devon sipped their coffee. The lights overhead dropped soft yellow cones on the concrete floor.
These three people have something in common when it comes to serving the church: they keep showing up. Tirelessly. Whether it be on Sunday morning or another time during the week, they've sacrificed personal time to that end. Each have a unique history serving in the church and investigated various roles before they found a place that fit.
As they have grown, so has the way they serve.
Brett began drumming on a worship team in Junior High, but realized he didn’t enjoy performing. He found himself too distracted by what people thought of him rather than using it to worship God. "A long time has passed since then, but I have grown to love setup and tear down teams, because it naturally forces me to think differently about why I serve."
Josh grew up serving with his missionary parents in Japan. "Growing up, Sundays were a family thing for us,” he explained. “They were all-day events. Set up, tear down, kids ministry and worship. I've been around kids ministry my whole life as a missionary kid, but I started working with kids when I was sixteen.” He stayed on that course, and continued to pursue his joy of serving kids, even in the most difficult situations.
Specifically, Josh experienced the traumatic loss of his cousin a few years ago and he was surprised to find that serving aided, not detracted, from his healing. "My cousin was young, and when his cancer took him. I responded with anger and confusion and mourned for a long time."
But on the other side of the pain came an even stronger passion for serving kids.
"God has gifted me with a love for kids and kids ministry, so I'm following that calling."
Devon's heart for making people feel welcome formed when she was young. "For me, my desire was to work with babies." But Devon wasn’t able to serve in that way after a car accident left her with a nagging injury. So she began serving with older kids, but knew it wasn’t the right fit. "I still had the desire to serve my church family, so I tried some stuff out and fell in love with the Gathering Team.”
The Gathering Team is the team that makes Sunday morning gatherings feel welcoming. Devon now organizes people to serve communion, lead prayer and welcome people at the door. If Sunday morning feels like it ran smoothly, Devon was a big part of that behind the scenes. "My favorite thing is to be at the connect table so that I can get to know people as they come up for information,” Devon beamed. "I get to meet them, connect them to teams, groups, people and the family rhythms."
"Yeah, relationships are a big thing when serving," Brett agreed. "I like the camaraderie. Sometimes I wake up and think, I'm tired. I don’t want to do setup today. But then I get there and I am energized by the people. It's fun serving alongside other people who enjoy giving their time. I even met a guy who was willing to disciple me during the week. Now we meet up and talk about life, he walks me through things I am going through.
"Serving extends beyond the Sunday gathering."
"Ditto," Josh said. "My wife and I wanted to feel like the church was family. So we got involved in DNA groups and serving. Serving has been the number one way that we get to know families, kids, other volunteers–and out of that comes real relationships. There is a healthy sense of ownership that comes along with serving. We're all in this together."
Ownership of the church may be foreign to those who haven't been involved in serving before, or even scary to those who have been hurt by a church in the past. But these three make it clear that serving is more than an activity; it's love in action and it's worth the risk.
"As the body of Christ, we get to do stuff behind the scenes that set up the welcoming environment that we have here," Devon said. "In this season, I am able to serve others. When I was new here I was poured into by people who cared and who were pouring into me. So I want to do that for others."
"I enjoy being a part of the body," Brett said with a smile.
"I used to go to church, thinking, 'what can I get out of this?' Now, I go asking, 'what can I bring?'”
Josh summed it up this way, "Because I have been so loved by God and the family of Jesus, I want to continue loving back. It's called family for a reason. Only consuming from your family causes brokenness. But the opportunity to serve gives us a way to give back. It's a beautiful vision of the unity Jesus brings."