Yesterday was our family’s weekend to help out in the nursery at church. By ‘our family’ I and the nursery/ Sunday School coordinator totally meant my wife. But I was there, we arrived early, and one of the guys who was assigned to work security was sick. So I got to walk the church and the parking lot for two hours with a shiny vest and not very much actual authority.
But that is beside the point. I helped out willingly. I also helped out joyfully, as in I was happy to help out, even if I was not very joyful (and more than a little bored) in the task given. After all, a boring day of working security isn’t a bad way to spend the day.
A church can symbolize different things for different people, but one common denominator is that it is an assembly of like-minded people who are working to obtain a very similar main goal. Even if the various congregations among the various denominations can’t agree with the path to the ultimate goal (eternal salvation), the people in the particular groupings operated mostly on the same page of overall goals They what fellowship with like and like-minded people, spiritual enrichment, a lesson learned, and a little entertainment (cuz some people only go to church to hear the choir).
What does it cost to gain the right to gather in the/a house of the Lord for a few hours on a Sunday? For the Pastor and church staff, it costs them real time to prepare and real money to have a space to occupy. To you, well, it actually costs you nothing. There is the tithe and offering, and that may regulate your ability to have the full rights as a voting member of the church, but not to attend.
The whole goal of having a church is to have a place for people to go looking for spiritual guidance, which shouldn’t cost of thing if you are in need. If you go to the emergency room in need of life saving surgery, the doctors perform it, then the hospital does whatever it can to suck every dollar possible out of you afterward. If you go to a concert hall looking for entertainment, you have to buy a ticket before you walk into the building. If you go to a bar looking for, um, entertainment, you have to pay for your drinks ahead of time, or run a tab that must be settled before you leave the bar.
Contrast that idea with you wanting to wander around a shopping mall. You don’t ever have to buy a thing. You are allowed access for your potential to buy something. The rent is paid by those that do buy things. If enough other people buy enough things, you can window shop to your heart’s content.
But I opened with a story that described my time volunteering for my church. Replace the church with any community organization, whether government or privately funded, and the same foot traffic analogy almost always applies. Somebody may be paying the bills to keep the doors open, and if that is you, great. If even or if not, there is some volunteer work that could make a difference.
The nursery makes a difference in me getting to hear, enjoy and learn every Sunday morning just like the day care makes a difference in me getting any work done at my job or in my side gigs (ever taken a toddler to work with you on a day when your city is crippled by snow and ice?) I don’t pay admission for church services, and I don’t pay a fee for sending the toddler to the nursery. So I give a little time and effort for the time and effort I am allowed to have in exchange. It really was not too much of them to ask, and I was more than willing to oblige, even if that particular day’s task wasn’t a boost to my never-fully-satisfied ego.
Are you using a community asset to your fullest, but not providing real support to keep it maintained? Maybe it’s not a matter of them wanting more money out of your checkbook, but needing more time out of your schedule. I know you’re tired and busy, but you should try to help. Do it willingly. Do it joyfully. You’ll see the difference that it makes.