A selfie culture can radically mis-shape the way American Christians think about using their gifts and volunteering in local churches.
Let’s look at three selfie influences that damage volunteer teams and ministries.
The “It’s All or Nothing Selfie”
“I’m not like other people. Since I don’t get to do what someone else does I can’t do anything. Since I don’t have the role that someone else does, I don’t have a role that matters at all.”
The all or nothing forgets that God arranges us as he chooses. One of us has this role and another has that role, not because one of us is more gifted, but because God arranged it and assigned to each of us our callings. Our culture tells us that favored ones get larger roles, less favored ones get smaller roles. But this is not the case with God! You don’t have to do what someone else does in order to matter to God. You get to do the little or much that God gave you to do. This is his grace!
The All or Nothing feels too much like an outsider. They need gracious help to hear Jesus inviting them in even with their few scraps of loaves and fishes. He can multiply such seemingly small gifts!
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:15–20)
The “Without Me the team couldn’t function Selfie”
This is an “all or nothing” in the opposite direction. This person says, “I’m not like other people. Since I have larger and more visible roles than they do, I don’t need them. I’m more important and more favored.”
When teams believe this lie they are in danger. Every team can function without the one you think is necessary. No team can function without the One who is truly necessary.
A celebrity soul-selfie on a team like this, can use his or her gifts to avoid humility and relationships. Because these team-mates feel too much like insiders, they don’t think they need anyone else. They grow proud, feel like they can go it alone. But they need to know that they need other people. No matter how apparently large their role, they too must admit that they themselves don’t have all of the gifts. They must humble themselves to value what other people have to offer in Jesus and where they themselves would actually be without such provisions of grace on the team by Jesus.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:21–26)
The Consumer Preferences Selfie
This person uses ministry opportunity as a way to reorient the church around his or her personal preferences, tastes, biases and agendas. We can be tempted to try to make the church in our own image, as if there is only one gift and one kind of ministry activity and only one kind of person that is best or is truly welcome.
Unwittingly, we begin to overlook people whom God never would.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12–14)
This kind of team seems successful in ministry for a while. But once the personality around whom everything was built, moves on, the team collapses. It was built on an individual other than Jesus.
Volunteers Need to Know
- They each have a role to play no matter how big or small
- Serving in the church isn’t about them
- They need each other no matter who they are
- No volunteer role is entitled. Every gift is a provision of grace in Jesus.