My name is Carl and I have been serving as the College Pastor here at Antioch. In the college ministry, we do not call our volunteers, “volunteers.” We call them PILLARS.
Why? Thanks for asking.
Several years ago, our children’s pastor informed me our College Ministry was having next to no impact on the kids of Antioch. Shocked, I asked him to explain. He noted that looking at his volunteer numbers, he could never tell whether my students were in Waco or gone for vacation. I could not believe this! Surely his volunteer numbers took a hit when 600 college students went back home for the holidays… but in fact, they didn’t at all!
Apparently, serving had dropped off our students’ grids. Their busy schedules and the myriads of opportunities coming their way had diverted them into other options.
That was my fault.
I had been living in the tyranny of the urgent and failed to pitch a compelling vision to our students about the beauty of serving the bride of Christ in this treasure called the local church.
This was unacceptable to me. So I repented to God and to our students. I was not about to allow college students to spend four years of their lives making great memories in Waco and miss out on the privilege and calling of giving their gifts to the local church. Why?
BECAUSE SERVING IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH LEADS TO SATISFACTION IN YOU AND TRANSFORMATION IN OTHERS IN A WAY NOTHING ELSE CAN.
As a response, our team brainstormed together – and thus the PILLAR idea was born. To be clear: the real problem was not that we were low on ideas for volunteerism. The problem was we were low on honor for our volunteers! We had not honored the hidden devotion and sacrifice of those upon whom Antioch’s vision was built. But that was about to change.
One typical Wednesday night, our students strolled into the church to find a not-so-typical night had been planned for them. We turned the room upside down and hung pillar banners everywhere. Then one of our pastors came out dressed in a red, full body spandex suit. Now we had their attention!
He taught everyone the new Pillar mantra, Pillar hand signs and the Pillar theme song. But then he unveiled what would soon become our college ministry’s most envied award: the Golden Hammer!
This tacky thing of beauty goes to ones who have been serving diligently, going above and beyond to be a behind-the-scenes player for the sake of someone else. The crowd goes nuts every time we pull someone onto the stage and hand them a Golden Hammer because
GOD HAS BUILT IT INTO OUR DNA TO HONOR THE SACRIFICE OF THE HIDDEN, THE ANONYMOUS, THE ORDINARY AND THE FAITHFUL.
That’s the thing about pillars: they are strategically placed in houses and buildings in order to provide stability and support, yet they are rarely noticed.
If they were to be removed, the whole thing would come crashing down. But pillars do their job – day in and day out – in order to keep everything afloat, regardless of whether they receive a high five or a thank-you note. They just do what they do because a job needs to be done – and that is what they were made to do. Could any word or illustration better describe the volunteers in our church who selflessly give themselves week after week in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our city?
The truth is: this isn’t just a college thing. It’s woven into the very fabric of our entire church!
Just look around:
- Kids Ministry volunteers
- UnBound teams fighting human trafficking
- Youth Ministry leaders serving teenagers
- Lifegroup leaders forming community
- STARS mentors reading to 3rd graders
- Worship team members
- Audio/Visual masterminds
- Camera operators
- Encounter Night servants
- Greeters for Sunday mornings
- Parking Lot attendants
- Nest Ministry champions for moms
- Prayer Shield intercessors
- Pastoral Care for international missionaries
- Bridge Street planners for the Young Adult service
- Community Feast leaders serving the poor
- World Mandate volunteers
Whether it’s passing the offering buckets or serving the precious children with special needs among us, our church is who we are because of the pillars who embody the vision and values of this family we call Antioch. As Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church, says:
“The Church that Jesus is building is not built on the talents of a few but on the sacrifices of the many. And while only a few will climb the highest mountain or shoot out of the earth’s atmosphere, those feats would not have happened without the brilliance of unsuspecting powerhouses serving behind the scenes.”
SO, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES OF THE YEAR WHEN WE PAUSE TO SAY THANK YOU, ANTIOCH.
Thank you to all of you who serve behind the scenes. Who willingly lay down your lives week after week. Who carry the burdens of God’s people with or without the praise of men. Thank you for being Pillars.
As the apostle Peter said in his first letter:
“Be shepherds of God‘s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you were asked, but because you are willing… and when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away!”
In other words: your Golden Hammer awaits you.
By Carl Gulley – Lead Pastor