A church busy bee mindset

Dear BPCWA worshipper, More than a week ago, we had one of our several church busy bees in the year. It was a good time when newer worshippers joined together with other busy bee “veterans” to do many tasks around the church. For larger churches with bigger grounds, much of the maintenance may be typically handled by employed caretakers who are hired for such jobs, and who will engage and manage cleaning companies. For other churches without their own grounds, they pay a rental to the landlord who takes care of the needed maintenance of the premises. God has blessed us with our own church building where we can worship. With our current and projected facility size after the extension, it also becomes our responsibility to maintain and take care of it. As such, since not every church has a busy bee schedule, what do we do, and what should our view be of such an activity?

What do we do. Essentially, the busy bee is a church “spring cleaning” day (which has nothing to do with spring), typically scheduled before Melville Council’s bulk waste verge collection days. The intent of a busy bee is to go through both the internal church building as well as the external grounds. While we do engage a cleaner and gardener for regular general upkeep, busy bee is a time when we do the “deeper cleaning” and ongoing packing that is needed especially for a church with much traffic and activities. For example, this is when the church chairs are wiped and inspected for graffiti or other undesirable things, like chewing gums, stuck on them. By the way, this really ought not to be so and parents must ensure their children are aware and do not do that. Spiderwebs are removed from higher corners. Aircon filters, fans, pianos, glass windows, and doors are cleaned. Kitchen drawers and cupboards are cleaned. In our gardens, this is when the significant weeding, cutting, sweeping, and at times even re-plantings are done. Since it is not currently in use, this is also when Jeremiah house gets a sweep and mop as well. On occasion, additional maintenance handiwork jobs of repairs of broken items due to heavy usage, and others like cleaning the gutters or toilet maintenance are carried out.

Who goes. All are welcome for this activity, and it would not be a stretch to say that this is an activity that is attended by 3 to 4 generations of people in the church. Many wonder what they can do in church.  Well, this is one area where everyone has a part to play. This is the purpose for the announcement’s request to register one’s participation on that day – so that we can match the tasks to the people who are attending and also to ensure that there are sufficient hands on the deck for each task planned. I continue to be impressed to see seniors come for the busy bee, many of whom don caps and toil under the hot sun out in the garden in what may very well be one of the most labour-intensive busy bee tasks. Often, they re-enter the church only for brief intervals to hydrate themselves, faces flushed and drenched with perspiration. At the same time, children and young children often come too. Some easier tasks are assigned to the very young ones to encourage them to serve, such as going through hymnals for inserts to throw or helping adults with some packing. As they grow up, the older children are progressively assigned more difficult tasks, such as cleaning. And of course, we have the bulk of the participants, the youths to the adults, spread across a variety of tasks.  

Why is it important? 1) Developing a love for the church, God’s house. While God has given us this building to worship in every week, some may be quick to notice and point out if something is amiss. But are we also part of those who would put in the labour to help fix it?  God willing, we will embark on a church extension in time. This will mean even larger premises to care and maintain for. Will the maintenance be “someone else’s” problem? In the time of Haggai, God rebuked the children of Israel “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?” (Hag 1:4). The people then were very happy to ensure that they took good care of their homes although the house of God lay wasting. Especially where DIY is very much part of our Australian culture, how does our dedication to God’s house compare to our dedication to our own homes? 2) Inculcating the mindset of serving incognito in menial tasks. Some would be eager to be appointed as teachers or musicians or leads. However, would they be as eager to be appointed to clean the toilets in church or mop the floors? Or is that disdained as something for the “lowly” ones? If so, then how can you claim to be Christlike when He said “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (Joh 13:14)?  3) Training the next generation on what service is. This must not be overlooked. Most of us grew up in families and homes where, as children, we were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths but had to do physical chores as part of growing up. This made us not averse to using our hands to do dirty hard work. But, even if our children do not do these in their homes, they should at least learn to do this in the church. This is a lesson I learnt from my first church. Even for a large part of my life as a working adult while I was attending my first church, I went on the roster to clean the church (including the toilets) and set up chairs for worship. Now, even as a Pastor, I do not see it as being “below my dignity” to throw the rubbish or clean the toilet in the church. Such training teaches us that nothing is beneath us to do for God. 4) Serving to benefit others. Most people want things to be clean, but they don’t want to be the ones to clean them. It is against the principle of Christ, where He “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:28). We want to build a BPCWA where the next generation takes even menial tasks as a privilege to do for God. They must not be lords that enjoy supervising others to do things for them but are willing to be servants to do the work if needed. To do real hard physical menial work not only when others are looking. To do not just the “white-collared” work like AV duty, organising activities, teaching, or being a musician but also the “blue-collared” work like washing the dishes, mopping the floors, throwing the rubbish, and cleaning the toilets. When this generation passes, what will the future adults and leaders of BPCWA be like? It depends on how parents inculcate the right attitude in their children by coming and toiling as examples to them first.

While I have used the occasion of the busy bee to highlight some of the works done around church, it is not limited to just the busy bee. There are other such opportunities and tasks around the church even on weekdays to repair broken items or clear the build-up of leaves, especially in autumn. When there are lunches held after fellowships, there are opportunities for washing up the plates, cleaning the tables, sweeping and mopping the floors, and throwing the rubbish out. I am not expecting the whole church to turn up for busy bee. There are some seniors who used to come who now have genuine medical conditions and are unable to do so. There are some mothers who now have young children who fill their arms – who, bringing their children, may hold back and distract others from the work more than help the overall work. But when the opportunity affords, I hope that the young and old, singles and parents alike will be people who are ready and willing to serve in the lowliest of tasks for God’s church. I am not desiring free labour but as the Apostle Paul says, “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (Php 4:17). Let us see the Busy Bee as an opportunity to serve our Lord and not a chore to “look the other way” to be avoided where possible.  Let those who are desirous of prominent services first learn to serve God in the lowest of services … just so that they can serve Him at any opportunity.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” (Phil 2:5-7)

Yours in our Lord’s service,