Friend Jamie Arpin Ricci in his brilliant post “Churches that transform neighbourhoods – 2” says this:
The culture of consumerism- so deeply linked to the culture of fear- has “discipled” us into the bondage of entitlement. Notice how often we frame participation in God’s mission as “exciting opportunity” (which it is), when in truth it should be seen as base-line responsibility? Incentive-based motivation might get action, but it breeds an entitlement where people believe they deserve it. Guilt and coercion can also be “effective”, but also produces fruit according to its nature.
Entitlement is what we feel when we think we deserve something. Our society, engulfed in consumerism, facilitates the “I work hard, I deserve this” culture. It’s a worldview that is founded on the servitude of the ‘self.’ Which means when we give our time to volunteer, we look for things that make us feel good about what we are doing. Or causes us to pursue that which fills our excitement ‘quota.’ When we work or put in our volunteer hours merely in the name of excitement or good feelings we border on idolatry.
With a mentality of entitlement we can easily justify backing out of where Jesus takes us, particularly if it doesn’t jive well with the ‘self.’
Often the temptation for church leaders or program coordinators is to create AWESOME programs or AMAZING service opportunities that will get people excited about Jesus in the hope that they will volunteer time. Simply put, we don’t want people to back out of ministry opportunities. We need people. Unfortunately, to focus on the AWESOME or AMAZING is to encourage an entitlement mentality. The church needs to call us to something far greater.
To volunteer is to give our time to a program or the next best exciting opportunity. To be a disciple is to give our life. It means something more than a few hours here or there. Discipleship asks of us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus to the places where we may or may not want to go. Either way, the point is that we are called to relentlessly follow. Volunteers give their time, disciples give their life. An intimidating prospect, yet something far greater and grounded in a deeper love that a world founded on the self does not understand.
What about you? Are you drawn to the more exciting opportunities for discipleship? Do you feel pressure to create wonderful and exciting programs to gain ‘volunteers?’