You might be surprised that this issue really exists in churches.
It really does in a lot of churches.
In fact, it is so bad in many churches that the junk takes up valuable room for ministry, small groups, and offices. In our consultations with churches, we often ask them where they keep their donated broken upright pianos. Church leaders are usually surprised we ask that question because it is a pain point for them.
One church showed us an upright piano in a men’s room. I am not kidding.
Church members sadly can use the church to store things they no longer want. They call it a “donation.”
Matt McCraw, one of our Church Answers team members, actually has a process to dispose of junk in his church. I have never seen such a process in writing, so I thought I would share it with you.
- If something is obviously trash, we just throw it out. For instance, if no one donated it, it’s broken, it’s smelly, or something like that.
- We chose a room where we put stuff that we think needs to be thrown out or given away, but there may be a question about it. We let it sit there for a while in case someone’s deceased grandmother donated it. If they get upset that it’s missing, we simply tell them that we have it and we’ll be glad to get it back to them. Among our staff, we call this room “purgatory.”
- If something has been in “purgatory” for six months or more, I ask the properties team chairman if we can give it away or throw it out. I tell him that the item has not been used in many months/years.
- Sometimes some things need to sit longer than others, depending on how much of a sacred cow they are. Our church is nearly 150 years old, so we’ve collected a lot.
- I’ve also learned to ask a few key people if they have any personal items in rooms that we’re clearing out just in case they want them.
Thanks, Matt, for these insights. I am adding to your title at Church Answers, “chief administrator for junk disposal,” with the hopes that you will keep me around. By the way, “purgatory” is an incredible name for junk-in-waiting.
Posted on May 15, 2023
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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