Book Review: The Volunteer Revolution

The Volunteer Revolution: Unleashing the Power of Everybody. Bill Hybels. Zondervan, 2004.
In the scope of the churches, encouraging service to them in various capacities is always a concern. Seeking volunteers, matching them with opportunities for things to do, and guiding their experience also becomes a concern. Bill Hybels aims to address this with his book “The Volunteer Revolution”.

Hybels begins by pointing out that believers all have a function within the church. He then continues in stating that deriving joy and making a difference are factors in those who serve. The author then describes servant-hood as a gamble, requiring faith to step away from self-gratification (Philippians 2:3-8) in the course of denying one’s self. Hybels then describes how some people have found healing for themselves through focusing on serving others. The text then moves onto the concept of the priesthood of all believers. Hybels then focuses on methods to find proper things for people when they serve, describing “jumping in” versus spiritual gifts in terms of assessments, and a pendulum of doing “whatever it takes” to “finding the right fit”. He then moves into assessing skills and looking at concerns for groups of people to find a volunteer passion. The author then describes the importance of community in assessing a volunteer church experience. Finally, he describes dealing with serving over a long period of time, and gives a pep talk about the power of doing good.

Hybels provides an interesting overview through a number of good stories of volunteer service within churches, providing a good overview of handling the whole process, either has a believer or as a leader within a church. He hits all the predictable notes, encouraging people to find their own path instead of forcing people into certain avenues.

However, Hybels does as most all Churchians do and focuses service in terms of serving the interests of the human man-made church instead of Jesus and the Kingdom of God in the ways the Spirit has dictated through Scripture. Unfortunately as all seeker-sensitive proponents do, Hybels continues on to place a focus of service on carnal worldly interests in service, placing the role of the Church as “fixing a broken world” (p61) by serving “felt needs” instead of focusing on “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Finally, Hybels stresses that people look for their strengths where they may be glorified, instead of their weaknesses where Christ may be glorified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Overall, The Volunteer Revolution represents a very fluffy feel-good book with numerous entertaining stories about service. While the contents of this book may get a believer to stop spectating and start serving, it misplaces the focus and intent of the service away from the Christ and the Kingdom of God to the man-made church and the world. The true Christian is not to love the world or the things of the world (1 John 2:15) or hold to the world, but to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2) While Hybels work serves well in the mechanics of service, the heart advocated for that service is far from a proper place. Those who read this would be mindful to know that.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Book Cover Image Source: Amazon


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