First of all, this blog is not about the huge church bazaar that is taking place as I type in literally every nook and cranny of our church property explicitly. It’s more about the importance of having events and opportunities in our life that bring focus and fellowship, meaning and missional purpose. The Fall Bazaar is a perfect example of that. Now to be clear, I have never in my life seen an operation quite like this. I’ve seen large yard sales, I’ve seen large rummage sales, I’ve seen silent auctions, but nothing to the scope and scale of this thing. 250 volunteers have worked in some capacity to make this happen. I don’t have any idea how many volunteer hours. And the miracle-working I witnessed was amazing. I hauled in boxes and boxes of smelly, dirty junk on Sunday afternoon. Each day I was amazed at how our volunteers cleaned, polished, glued, displayed (and yes, wisely selected items to make their way to the dumpster as appropriate) until we had treasures priced to sell every where you looked!
But what was more impressive to me was how important this event and this week’s work is to those who make it happen. You see, this is more than a massive fundraiser for missions and debt reduction at our church. It’s more than an opportunity for folks to clean out their closets at home. It’s even more than an opportunity to provide helpful stuff to folks in our community who love or need to find a bargain.
This was also a powerful opportunity to get to know church members better. Let’s face it, when you are elbow deep in someone else’s donated shoes or clothes, you are going to have interesting conversation with the other folks assigned to your “department” for the week as you prepare your items for display. With everyone wearing name tags for one solid week at the church, people kept commenting how this was the moment they began to actually get to know the people they worshipped with all year-long. By spending concentrated time together working on the same ultimate project, everyone feels united and part of a team. And especially for those who are retired (which are most of the volunteers through the week because they have the time to give to such a massive project) it was a beautiful opportunity to see all of their various gifts in motion. Having purpose and meaning in their life when many spent years being in charge and responsible in a variety of professional careers but discovering in retirement that their roles change dramatically. It is so important to be needed. This week reminded me of that lesson.
That was my favorite part. Seeing the rainbow of gifts that God has given to all the different people who make up our church on display was magnificent. People with the gift of leadership organizing and mobilizing everyone. People with the gift of hospitality just chatting and welcoming folks onto the campus today. People with the gift of administration handling the money and the behind the scenes details that make this work like a well oiled machine. People with retail experience marketing items by displaying them so beautifully. People with the gift of helps simply offering their time and helping hands willing to do whatever was asked of them. Strong people doing some heavy lifting with picking up furniture. Extroverted people seeking gift cards for the silent auction. Cooks offering their best kitchen creations for sale (of which my husband and I are enjoying!). You get the idea. It was the Body of Christ in motion for a solid week.
So as inconvenient as it has been to not have a single meeting space to have meetings other than my office. As odd as it is to not have any of our small groups or programs this week when most churches are cranking up fall programming. As exhausting as this week is for so many of our church members and their friends as they spend far more hours at the church than they are used to! The benefits outweigh the pain. It reminds me of what our guide said while we were on Kilimanjaro. While we are on the mountain it’s hard to breathe, it’s cold, we sleep on the ground with rocks underneath us and on a significant incline, we have headaches and sore muscles but somehow after we get down off the mountain we forget all of that. We only remember the beautiful vistas, the exhilaration of the accomplishment, the beauty of nature and before long, we find ourselves on another mountain. Then we remember that it’s hard to breathe and sleep and we ask ourselves why did we want to do this? The good usually always outweighs the inconvenient. And because it is important to us, we do it all over again!
Don’t underestimate the power of having a unified purpose or cause. Don’t underestimate the power of feeling needed and valued. And in the life of the church or any organization, it’s important for people to spend time with each other getting to know one another and having fun. This is not rocket science. But it’s amazing how often we forget these basic but important lessons in community.
Maybe your church or organization needs to put on a super big project like a Bazaar! If so, I know some experts you can call that will give you some helpful tips.
Grace and Peace,