Cleaning House

by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director

Things sure do pile up! There’s nothing like having my mom and sisters coming to visit for a few days to get me in the mood to do that deep-down cleaning. I’m talking about getting the closets and drawers in shape, vacuuming under the furniture, sorting through the piles of papers and magazines that accumulate, and sweeping out (and throwing out) all the debris collected in the garage over time. It’s exhausting and I wouldn’t want to do it every week but it is also therapeutic. There is a real difference between maintenance (which I’m really good at) and nitty-gritty cleaning. Even my computer needs someone (usually a little outside help for me) to spend time updating, downloading, deleting, and uploading to operate faster and more effectively.

You know where I’m going with this, right? Our Christian leadership, our ministries, our congregation’s buildings, etc. all need a regular nitty-gritty clean up. Considering the fact that we have guests coming every week, we really can’t put this off too long. So here is a short checklist with a few clean-up projects to spark your imagination before fall gets here and the number of visitors increases:

  • Leadership Housekeeping – start from the perspective of the guest. What systems are in place to welcome, invite, encourage, and care for people who are visiting? Does everyone on staff and council understand they are the welcome wagon? Equally important, is there clarity of role for staff regarding their job descriptions? A good way to hit the fall full-speed ahead is to get job descriptions tightened up. When working in partnership with paid and unpaid leaders, it makes a huge difference when they know their parts – and understand each other’s roles too. This is a good time to re-set the calendar with weekly tactical staff meetings and add regular strategic meetings for the next year. Remember to schedule at least one retreat for your team each year. Staff and council retreats bear more fruit than six months of regular meetings if you go off-site and include relational development, leadership formation, and shared planning.
  • Personal Rebooting – If you are the pastor, take a few days away to think strategically about your sermons for the next 6 months. Did you know that most Christian retreat centers and campsites welcome clergy at a discounted rate, or for free? Invest in your own faith life. Your spiritual health is contagious. Or not.
  • Communications Clean Up – Your website is the front door to your congregation. If that truth makes you cringe, now is the time to get this in shape. LEAD and our strategic partners are ready to help your congregation develop a website (and logo) if you’d like a little help. This will be the best money you spend this year. Platforms that are easy to maintain are key to making the website work for you. If you are still promoting Easter, or worse yet Christmas worship, right now, you are losing ground. You are better off removing your website and starting a Facebook page until you can get this tuned up.
  • Building Chores – Drive into your parking lot tomorrow. As you get out of the car and walk to the building, start making a list of all the ways a visitor might feel welcomed or anxious. How helpful are the signs? (Bigger is not always better.) How does the building smell when you walk in the door? Seriously. A stinky, musty building is not welcoming. How’s the lighting? Are there a few photos of people enjoying ministry in your congregation that are large enough to see or is the space cluttered with zillions of tiny family photos and old banners from a past life? When was the last time you painted the main part of your building? These are all very affordable changes that make a big difference – if the lawn is mowed, bushes trimmed, and flower beds freshened up too.

These are a few quick changes, doable in the next few months that will help your congregation be welcoming to guests. Sure, there are more. We haven’t even gotten to the really deep cleaning, like the power of small group ministries, but this is a start. And it’s always one step at a time.