They vacation at church.
Or, something like that.
We hosted our annual pastors’ conference earlier this month, and just like each year for the past 10 years, we asked our church members and attenders to consider assisting us during the event with set up and takedown, greeting, registration, and hospitality. We never have to recruit extra volunteers; apparently serving at Velocity is a hot ticket item. Again this year I talked with volunteers who actually used their vacation days to work from sun up to sun down serving strangers.
It boggles my mind, really. I mean, Velocity isn’t cool drinks and white sandy beaches. It’s not restful. It doesn’t pay much – just a Velocity t-shirt and a sore back. But the volunteers tell a different story. They say they are inspired as they listen to our main stage speakers. They say they gain insights in leadership and help for their own marriages in our breakout classes. They say they hear the “behind the scenes” stories of pastors and churches across our nation – stories of what God is doing in their churches and the challenges those pastors face. As our volunteers host and greet, they overhear all kinds of things, and they grow. They worship. They bless and are blessed.
Conference attenders notice. The number one compliment we receive as a leadership team just might be about our people. Time and again we hear how helpful, friendly, and genuinely interested our volunteers are. We’ve heard stories of them meeting financial needs of conference attenders, praying with them, and getting home addresses in order to mail encouraging notes long after the conference ends. In so many ways our volunteers “pastor” our guests, and our volunteers find great value in their service.
Sometimes value is worth more than a vacation. Just ask the camera man who worshipped between camera shots during our main sessions. Or the worship team who left exhausted but felt closer to God. Or the registration team who was energized after meeting so many new people. Or Mike, who when asked by a conference attender if he could quote the mission of Mountain Lake Church, confidently responded, “To belong in healthy relationships with God and others, to become more like Christ, and to bless our world.” Mike knows our mission….and his purpose….and that in itself is extremely valuable.
So while I mixed and mingled with the conference attenders, I hugged the necks of our volunteers, I slipped into back rooms to give high-fives, and I asked what God was teaching them. I love those people….God’s people….our partners. They chose to vacation with me last week….at church….and I’m thankful for them.