As I write this we have a small group of amazing people in our building getting ready for VBS next week. (They'll be here tomorrow - Wednesday - from 9 am to 4 pm if you want to join them!) Next week, there will be a host of people throughout our building helping to create an amazing space and program for children in our community.
In churches, we often call those people who come to help with decorating or help to run programs volunteers. They are voluntarily choosing to give up their time to make sure these programs run. We have "volunteers" who help with ushering, music, maintenance of the building, leading Bible studies, preparing food. The list of things people "volunteer" to help with could go on and on and on.
I am so thankful for everything everyone does at Covenant to ensure that things run smoothly, are staffed, and are taken care of. But I'm wondering if we can find a better word than "volunteering" for our service?
I've been thinking about the fact that we call ourselves a family. If we really believe that is true, is "volunteer" an appropriate word? Am I "volunteering" at home if I make dinner, wash the dishes, clean the floor, or do the laundry? Is Anj "volunteering" if she drives our boys to where they need to be because I am busy with something else? Are my sons "volunteering" if they feed our dog and take him out to go to the bathroom? I would suggest, no, this is not volunteering. This is being a contributing member of the family.
Volunteers are wonderful, but they are generally people from outside who come in to help get things done. But we can't survive on volunteers. Volunteers come and go depending on their mood, and whether or not they feel they are up to it. As a family, we are able to continue to function and thrive only when family members choose to contribute. I know that there are certain seasons when we contribute in different ways than others - depending on our schedule, health, and abilities. But being a healthy family means we recognize we have some things we get to do - even if we don't want to - simply so that the whole body/unit can thrive.
So . . . think about it for me. Is there a better word than "volunteer" to describe the contribution of family members? In the meantime, know that your contribution and participation in this family is incredibly appreciated!