In the past five plus years that I've been on staff at our church we made the decision to become multi-site (one church in many locations), opened two additional campuses and birthed a Network to help plant and revitalize many more churches. Over time our staff has been gradually restructured into central and campus specific teams but the majority of those on "central" staff worked and served in the original campus. Until last week.
On Wednesday all employees working at the Arlington Heights Campus ate lunch together and expressed appreciation for each other. On Thursday sixteen members of the central staff packed up all their files, computers and books and on Friday we unpacked them in our new space on the second floor of an attached office building to our Barrington Campus. It was an emotional week. And not just for the ladies.
Some of the folks who moved offices had been in that original building more than ten years. Others were much newer but had managed to accumulate a good deal of supplies, paperwork and equipment in that short amount of time. A fair bit of purging had to take place before the move could be made.
Those of you who have ever moved (whether an office or a home) know that it's wiser to get rid of stuff you don't need or use anymore than to pack it, move it and continue to store it in a new place. But that doesn't mean it's easy. It takes a good deal of time and effort to discern what is necessary and beneficial for the future and what ought to be passed on to others or eliminated entirely. You can't make those decisions without looking at everything you've held onto in some detail.
What to keep? What to leave?
One of the perks of working in a church is how activities like this are approached. We always pray first. We also benefitted from the practical wisdom of our office management that had the insight to plan an annual cleaning day - many items that were no longer useful were discarded long before the move. But I think I'm most grateful for the leadership of a few pastors and one women's ministry director that have often reminded me to hold things loosely in this world because it's all temporary.
That's pretty counter-cultural in a society that values possessions with increasing passion. My kids generation has accumulated far more than twice as much as that of my parents. I remember when my mother surveyed my (third) baby-shower collection of gifts - it was a classic Winnie-the-Pooh theme. There were bookends (filled with books), photo frames, bedding sets, bumper pads, a quilt rack, dozens of outfits, knick-knacks, and a mobile among other items. She sighed and said, "When we brought you home there was a crib and a picture of Bambi on the wall."
I can relate to people who fear they'll get rid of something and then discover later they really needed it. After all, I was a Bank Compliance Officer for a decade. And though technology allows us to keep digital copies of literally everything now, we're still skeptical when we can't pull out a drawer and touch it with our hands. When we find we really need that special something, will it be there?
This is where faith comes in. Do I trust the God that tells me "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9) that He really is all I need? Am I willing to let Him purge what He surely knows is not good for me and let Him replace it with what is better? Especially when I can't envision the better thing?
Late Friday afternoon I stood in a circle with the central staff team and thanked God for giving us the amazing building we stood in and for bringing the wildly talented, highly overqualified and supremely dedicated individuals in that circle to our staff. Then I moved to a newly painted, carpeted and furnished office of my very own and experienced what I call an Ephesians 3:20 moment.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen"