Let’s Get Gathering

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Matthew 9:37

I eat out a lot. More than most of you do, I’m guessing. We have no kids, so for Jan and I, it’s often just as easy to catch a bite in a local restaurant than to actually prepare anything.

So, it’s possible I’ve noticed more than some of you have, but when I walk into a restaurant lately, I see lots of signs in windows baring two simple words: Help Wanted.

Help Wanted. It’s been a strange side-effect to the pandemic. Because of worker dissatisfaction, or unemployment benefits, or a deep seeded desire for something new, we have a severe shortage of workers. Especially for those lower paying, minimum wage kinds of jobs. Folks don’t want to do em.

I don’t profess to know all the underlying reasons for this situation, but I am aware that it has spilled over into the life of my church. We don’t have a sign that announces it, but as we strive to move into a busy fall with some sort of momentum, we keep coming up against those same two words: Help Wanted.

Volunteers are in shorter supply, too! Many folks are just unsure of how to commit right now. Is it safe? Will people be masking? Others are so inundated with a school year, work duties, and uncertain futures that they’re loathe to sign up for any sort of regular service opportunities in the church.

There are probably some who have decided to just step back from church altogether. Folks that grew accustomed to sleeping in on a Sunday, or having another evening free during the week. Folks who may feel like stepping into a community or ministry activity is a task where the effort required is not equal to whatever positive results might come.

I’m happy to say that I’ve seen many signs of engagement in my congregation. I see people committed to the work and dedicated to a life in Christ in a way that challenges me to do the same. Even when we’re a little short staffed, our church is committed to boldly moving forward.. (Oh, and we’re not in the business of judging anyone who isn’t ready yet.. We’re not all working at the same pace.)

Still, if you feel like you’ve been relegated to the sidelines, or have deliberately chosen to move there when it comes to volunteering, I advise you to keep reevaluating as you go. You may discover ways you can be committed, active, and safe all at the same time. The church needs laborers for the harvest, and it’s never too late to choose to heed the call. In your busy, possibly crazy life right now, allow the Holy Spirit to help you make room for discipleship.

As for the job situation out there, your favorite eatery might be a little short staffed these days. Be sure to be kind to the workers who have shown up. I’m sure they’re trying their best. Hopefully, things will get sorted out and the right people will connect with the right jobs in the right places.

You might not be paid an hourly wage for volunteering at your church, but you will be greatly compensated through the giving and receiving of grace with others. The time and energy you’re willing to commit is nothing short of a sharing in the Body of Christ. It’s worth the work!

So, on behalf of eater-outers like myself, good luck to job hunters and short-staffed employers. And blessings on all who are staying open to the ongoing call of the mission of The Church.

Times continue to be strange, but the harvest is as ready as ever.

Let’s get gathering.

Have a great week,


Heath Oviatt, Wamego UMC member, on our recent mission trip to Oklahoma City.