There is this old saying that seems to hold true for any organization: 10% of the people do 90% of the work. It doesn't seem to matter if I am operating within my 12 Step fellowship or my Catholic Parish, I see familiar faces in the trenches as major events. The same people setting up chairs, making coffee or copies and putting up the decorations show up to 'do the deal' on every New Year's Eve or a Knights of Columbus Fish Fry.
We begin to recognize each other. We wave, we nod, we tell the same old jokes and we get to work, rolling up our sleeves and putting in the time to make sure that the people showing up experience the Love of the Creator when they walk through the open doors. Newcomers and Oldtimers, we want you to feel welcomed. We want you to feel comfortable and we want you to stay.
We also want you to join in - or at least we should, if we are truly being of service to the organization we claim to represent.
One of the marks of a successful disciple is 'fruitfulness'. For Catholics, being fruitful actually proves we are the disciples of Jesus ("By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples" -John 15:8). Our ability to draw another into the world of service that is True Christianity is part of the challenge of being a Disciple of Jesus and so we have to make sure we are inviting, carving out a space for others and encouraging them to become a part of the Church by getting their hands dirty, rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.
This can be a challenge. Oftentimes I have found myself confronted with a wall of indifference to new people from those who have been doing the work for awhile now. I have walked into situations, offered to help and been rebuffed....and it hurts. It hurts my feelings and makes me feel awkward and unwanted.
This is why I have made it a point to always look for the newbie in any situation. Who has never been on the committee? What do they want to do? What ideas do they bring to the table? Even if the idea was tried in the past and found wanting, do I tell them that in a manner that does not shut them down but encourages input? How can I help THEM?
It is important for every Catholic Disciple to invite others to become a Disciple as well. I cannot just catechize, I must include, I must invite, and, if the person I invite has a different approach or is talented in an area I have ignored I have to let them apply their gifts. Each of us has a different area of the garden to till. Each area of the garden is important.
The next time I complain about the lack of volunteers for a project, I need to ask myself what I have done to attract someone to the project itself. If I am truly a Disciple, people will want to participate with me. If I don't make room for others at the table, I better not complain about the size of the gathering.