We are transitioning into stewardship season here at Foothills, and I’m still thinking about the neighbors. Mostly because they have taken over our facility, and there’s literally no room for new church programs. This has been an ongoing struggle around here, but I had an especially unpleasant night of it last night, and seem to be on a rant today. One day soon, there will be an aerobics class in my office, and a pottery-poetry-cheese-making club gathered in the bathroom. Enough.
I will spare you the details of last evening. What I want to process instead is how well we–all of us–share what God has given us. In thinking about shared space at the church, most of us consider it a real ministry, to share our facilities with neighbors who need someplace to gather. Whether its a scout troop, AA, or a dance class that’s lost its home to city budget cuts, we open our doors wide. We ask a refundable deposit, and a small donation to keep the lights on. Our home is yours.
But that gets more complicated when the donations are no longer enough to keep the lights on, or when, pardon me, our neighbors act like church groups are in their way. I want to say “But its OURS!” I feel like stomping my foot when I say it too, but resist. Because a little voice inside my head says, “OURS must include God. This is God’s space, and we are its care-takers.”
Here are two good criteria for using your time, talents and treasures in a way that honors the Holy. That which is life-giving…and that which you can live without.
If a group that gathers here changes people’s lives in a way that the church is not equipped to do, then let them come. If a group that gathers here meets in a time and place that we could not otherwise use, let them come. Who’s left? Well, those folks might be getting a phone call from me pretty soon. And if its some of the same folks who are unplesant to deal with, well, then I will try not to enjoy it too much.
Now, ask these questions in your own life, of your own “stuff,” your own gifts for service, your own time. What do you have to offer that is life-giving in a unique way? What has God given you that your church or community really needs a part of? And, what do you have that you can live without?
If those questions are not shaping the priorities in where you spend your time and money, it might be time to make a few phone calls of your own. What has God given you that is life-giving? And what can you live without?