Last week my Parents-In-Law moved out of the house they had lived in for over 40 years. They had lots of memories. And they had lots of STUFF.
Some of the stuff was important. Documents. Clothes. Furniture.
Some of the stuff was nostalgic. Photos. Children's toys. Jewelry.
And mixed in with all of the important and nostalgic stuff was a bunch of junk. Clothes that don't fit anymore. Toys with no owner. Decorative objects that were past their prime.
These things were treasured at one point and will probably be treasured by the individuals that purchased them at the moving sale, but when it comes to moving and packing, these extra things just weighed us down.
Churches are no different when I comes to collecting STUFF. We keep things from VBS for years. We collect old t-shirts from youth mission trips. We take Bibles and Christian book donations and suddenly have a "library."
Part of the problem is that we can't say no to free stuff. People are always cleaning out their closets and don't want to throw something away so they feel certain that the church could use it. For some reason things that aren't good enough for a child to play with in a home are perfectly fine for a child to play with at church. Perhaps they think that the church sanctifies all objects, giving them new life and making them safe and clean to play with once more.
The other part of the problem is that we can't get rid of things. Things tend to hold value; not just due to their price but because of who gave them or what they remind us of. Memories hold value. Losing an object that holds a memory can be quite costly.
But the biggest problem with collecting church stuff, is when it weighs us down and takes us away from our mission. Is the KJV Bible donated by Suzie's great-great-great grandmother (that is missing pages and was colored on back in 1950 by Suzie's cousin thrice removed) more important than someone learning about God in a new and powerful way?
I do think that there are some items in churches now that are meaningful and can be useful in furthering the mission. But, if we spent time de-cluttering our churches in order to make room for new memories and new people, who knows where we could go?
Until Everyone Hears,