Cleaning the church

Sometimes you find inspiration in odd places.
One thing that distinguishes the LDS church from most others is that we don’t have much in the way of full-time clergy. Sure, there are general authorities, but the vast majority of church leadership at the local levels is made up of volunteers. For example, the members of my ward’s bishopric– the bishop and his two counselors– are volunteers. One’s an accountant, one is retired, and I don’t know what the other one does. None, however, receive any monetary support from the church.
This principle extends beyond leadership to mundane things like who cleans the buildings. At least in North America, church buildings are maintained by the church facilities maintenance group, but “maintained” means that the FMG does stuff like fixing the roof if it leaks or replacing the toilet that little Johnny broke. They don’t clean the buildings, the members do. That means that, a few times a year, our family gets assigned to work as part of a cleaning crew. This sounds boring, but as with so many other things, if you look a bit deeper you may find it to be less so.
The first interesting thing: this is a collateral duty over and above whatever callings you may have. Everyone gets a turn, without fear or favor. Single adults, families with little kids, senior couples.. all must bow to the mighty cleaning schedule. I think that’s great because it gives (or requires, depending on your perspective) an equal opportunity for service to all. Just as God’s blessings are equally available to all of us, so are the responsibilities that come along with them.
The second interesting thing: at least in this ward, each cleaning task is on an index card. The card specifies what needs to be done (e.g. “sweep east and west entrance areas; make sure rugs are clean; make sure that rugs do not prevent doors from opening”). On the back there’s a signature list so that whoever performs the task can sign off on it. This promotes pride of workmanship, of course, but it also provides a useful way to track jobs that might not have gotten done the last time the building was cleaned. Our church makes a big deal out of doing things in wisdom and order, and this is just one small manifestation of that.
Pushing a broom (or a mop) isn’t an especially inspiring task, but I appreciated the opportunity to do it, in part because I felt like I was doing something valuable for our congregation, but in part because I knew I was working as part of a team to meet a larger objective. The spiritual applications of this principle are pretty obvious…

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