Preacher Dave Stone told the story of visiting a Church when he and his wife had little children. After the program they had a fellowship dinner for their special guest that day. Dave asked if they had a high chair his child could use during the meal. The people affirmed that they had one somewhere. They began searching and there in a closet they found a nice new high chair covered in dust. The members there took it out and set it up for Dave and his child. While wiping it off one of the older members apologized by saying, “I’m sorry, we haven’t had any little ones around here in a long time.”
I heard this story in a sermon Dave preached entitled “Keeping the Dust off the High Chairs.” The sermon was an encouragement to try to reach children with the message of Jesus in our Churches. While I don’t remember any of the details of that sermon, including the text he preached from, but I do remember that story. In fact, I remind myself of it regularly.
For the last two days I have been cleaning up around the Church both before and after Vacation Bible School. People leave trash everywhere, especially water bottles. Those who do throw away their trash leave full trash cans that need to be emptied. The children eating leave messes on the floor that need to be vacuum or mopped. There is quite a long list of issues that having over a 100 children and 50 volunteers make each night .
As I walk around the Church cleaning up the mess I keep reminding myself of that Dave Stone story. I want to always remember that we can either have the mess that ministry brings or the dust of no ministry. I would much rather have to clean, or repaint, or re-carpet, or pick up than have a building that sets empty with nothing going on.
It’s true, ministry creates a mess, but it is a beautiful mess.