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Noble Volunteer or Humble Slave?

Is there any choice about serving the kingdom of God?

"It is hard!"

Those words take on some of the anguished dimensions of our Lord's "It is finished!" when spoken by a volunteer-seeking pastor. Recruitment is hard—hard enough to make us feel like giving up the ghost sometimes.

The reasons why it is hard have to do with three tensions.

Tension No.1: Is This Church or Kiwanis?

From a human standpoint, the church is a volunteer organization. The rules and dynamics that apply to Girl Scouts and Kiwanis apply here, plus a few others. We have recruiters and recruitees—those who sell the purposes and needs of the organization, and those who listen to the sales pitch. We outline specific tasks and give strokes to those who volunteer their precious time to work. Words and letters of appreciation are essential, or volunteers begin to feel used and unappreciated. After all, they chose to give of their time to help out the church.

But what about God's standpoint? The church is his kingdom. Volunteer organizations are democracies in which the ...

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