As I attempt to Marie Kondo my closets at home, I am grateful for all those church ladies (and they are usually ladies) who organize office filing cabinets and kitchen closets and fellowship halls post-clothing sale events. Churches are magnets for junk:
- The sack of clothes someone dropped off at the back door that are too worn for consignment and too good to throw away.
- The random coffee mugs that were donated after church members de-cluttered their own kitchen cabinets.
- The box tops, jelly jar lids, popcicle sticks, kleenex boxes, and broken toys in the education wing that no one has time to sort.
It makes my project of evaluating old sweaters look like a vacation.
Marie Kondo famously suggests that – as we de-clutter – we ask ourselves: “Does this coat/pair of shoes/scarf/nightgown bring me joy?” If not, say “Thank you” in remembrance of old times and pack it away for The Salvation Army. That moment when we toss the bags in a bin or drop them off at the Goodwill Store feels wonderful. Exquisite really.
This is all old news since Kondo’s book is a couple years old. But – with Lent around the corner – it feels like a good time for spiritual communities to de-clutter more than our balconies and music files.
Maybe we all need to de-clutter our calendars – as individuals and as congregations. We who consider church to be an important community in our lives seem to be especially susceptible to filling our calendars. In addition to busying ourselves in general, congregations have the added burdens/blessings of “tradition” and liturgical calendars and institutional directives.
I hope we know that Busy Church ≠ Thriving Church.
As I’ve shared before, I know a church that gives up all business meetings for Lent. No elders, deacons, or trustees meetings. No staff meetings. No committee meetings. Yes to Bible studies, prayer gatherings, worship gatherings, book groups, coffee klatches, Faith on Tap.
Imagine going on a church meeting Sabbatical for seven weeks. Sweet.
Now would be the time to discuss this for and with your congregation.
And for the rest of the year – after Easter – what calendar de-cluttering is needed? Is there a Peach Festival that you’ve scheduled every summer that nobody likes anymore except the two ladies in charge? Is there a fall ham dinner that people groan about – even though it’s an annual “tradition”?
What sparks joy? Let’s get rid of what doesn’t.
Image from a church balcony that I do not dare identify.