Ministry is a Mess

One of my Monday morning rituals is to walk around the Church dealing with the mess of Sunday. There will be cups setting in various places usually half full of coffee that was left by someone planning on drinking the rest. Trash will be found in every corner of the building. Dirt will be on the carpet. Frequently the trash cans are full and need emptied. Bibles need restocked on the table in the entryway along with mints and gift bags for our guests. Numerous items simply need picked up and put away. I am usually busy for at least an hour just doing a surface level cleaning of the Church.

That may not sound like a great way to start your Monday and I will admit that I don’t love all of it, especially clogged toilets leftover from the day before. I also find myself celebrating this time each week. This simple walk around the Church reminds me that we are doing ministry. People were here on Sunday. They drank coffee and got carried away in conversation. They had fellowship while eating something a generous person had prepared. People took home Bibles and gift bags. People came on Sunday morning and connected with one another and with God.

Doing ministry will leave a mess. A Church of our brotherhood in Seward Alaska closed its doors. I was talking to a minister who had been a part of the formation of the Church and helped it through its life. He was there from its conception to its death. He told me in a private conversation about how the building would sell fast because it was in great condition. The building had almost new carpet even after several years of ministry. Then he paused and said, “It really makes me sad. We had all these dreams of ministry and nothing ever happened.”

I know the other side of this story. Some people will complain. They will say that new people need to pick up after themselves. They should know better. People will complain about the dirt, the trash and the fact that the carpet is being ruined.

Personally, I praise God for the mess. To me it means that rough people who often have no Church background are coming. They are bringing their messy lives to Church and receiving the ministry of our Church. It means children are filling our building for a lesson and then running around while parents talk. I thank God that our building is full each Sunday with people who want to know more about him. Sure it would be nice to have less of a mess each week but NOT if that means fewer people.

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