I wanted to share something that we did in my congregation about four or five years ago. We gave our building a shower.
As part of my congregation’s pastorate team, I often wander around looking for things that need to be fixed, or improved. Structural things I would bring up with our Buildings & Grounds minister. But when it came to things like a new vacuum cleaner, a new kettle, or other equipment, I thought that I would just take it upon myself to replace some of those things personally.
I can’t remember what item I thought I really wanted to replace, but whatever it was, I decided, I’m just going to go out one day, buy it, and donate it to the church. I decided that I was not going to ask our financial officer to reimburse me. I love my congregation, and our building, and the many events that we have together. So, I really wanted to just donate the replacement object to the congregation.
But then I saw something else I really wanted to replace. It was never a begrudging thing, but an opportunity, a reason to be excited. However, I don’t have unlimited money, so I knew I could not just keep buying things and paying for them out of my own pocket.
One day, I decided to approach our congregational leadership team, as several of them had also noticed there were a lot of things that just really needed to be replaced and updated. So, I said to them, something like “can we make a list of everything we need, and perhaps people would be wiling to pick it up”?
I then, probably with a bit of anxiousness, asked something like “and because we’ve been really trying to keep our congregational funds directed to other things, I was hoping that if people are able to, they might be willing to donate it” and I spoke about how I think of the church building as not just a building I go to, but as a home. Its God’s home, and it should also be my home and the home of everyone who attends, and just as we freely buy stuff for our own home, maybe some people might feel inclined to do that for the sake of our congregational building.
I was greatly moved that everyone was very enthusiastic about this idea…and the excitement grew! People felt invigorated to do what they could to help improve what we consider to be God’s house – people wanted to be personally part of the process of taking care of God’s house. We posted a list, and everyone went around to each room (probably most especially the kitchen), and then added items to our purchase list. It was almost like making a gift registry.
Once the list was posted, people could volunteer to take care of whatever item they wished (presuming it was still available of course) signing off beside the item they agreed to purchase.
But it did not stop there. Very quickly, people said “we need to celebrate this – we can’t just quietly bring in the items on different days and put them away” – so, soon, a date was picked – a target date to have all the items purchased, and it was decided that on that date, after the service, and probably a luncheon, we would sit in a circle, and each item would be presented.
I honestly cannot remember if they were gift wrapped, but I would not be surprised if they were. Either way, it was very fun to see each new exciting pot, set of spatulas, vacuum cleaner, etc. We even used this opportunity to buy things we never had before. One person suggested TV trays so that seniors could manage their food better when we had pot lucks. My wife took care of that, and she took great joy in going out and buying a really nice sturdy set of folding wooden trays that sit on a stand all compact when not in use.
It was a really joyful occasion to come together and replenish some things that really needed to be replenished, as well as getting some new things for our church that were very practical, but which we never had before. People seemed really happy to help out, and it was heartwarming to see the love that everyone has for our congregation expressed in this different kind of way. One of my fondest memories was seeing the joy that everyone had, particularly on the faces of the people who most often work in the kitchen. There was some real excitement and genuine gratitude for each gift. It was almost like watching kids on Christmas morning!
So, if you’ve never thrown your church building a shower, you might consider doing so. I tend to think that the love, generosity and creativity that results will be a warm blessing to your congregation in many diverse ways.
What a wonderful idea!! Because of the distance and other issues for our members we have not been able to have a regular prayer gathering for quite some time. Your idea would be an especially nice “testimony” and sharing time, without the formality of a service. Community is a grand and beautiful thing. Thanks for sharing your special time together. May God’s blessings abide always in your congregation!!