It’s an odd thing, to work in a church. In addition to interacting with my co-workers on a daily basis, one of the things I enjoy the most is the opportunity to interact with the people of the church and the people of the community that come into the church on a daily basis. One of the things that people who do not hang around a church during the week might not realize is that the church is a busy place, even when it’s not Sunday. People are always coming in and out. When you have worked at the church as long as I have, you begin to notice the people and the patterns. There is a certain comfort to the faces you see each day.
There are the preschool families. Most preschool parents pick up their kids through the kiss-and-ride line, but there are some that park and walk their kids in. Several times a day, we get to see children walking with their parents, eager to start the day or, if it’s the end of the day, eager to tell their parent all about the day’s activities. These children start out as tiny 2-year-olds, and three short years later, they are big 5-year-olds. I only see them for about 30 seconds each day as they walk by the office windows, but they grow up so fast.
Then there are the small group attenders. Throughout the week there are several Small Groups that meet at the church. Each week the members of the Small Group trickle in alone and hurry to their group. When the class is over, they walk much slower, usually in pairs or groups, talking to each other and catching up about life. It’s not unusual to find a group of friends talking in the parking lot, using every last second to spend time with each other. Some of these groups have been meeting for years. I’ve heard stories of how these group members have cared for each other when someone was sick or helped out when someone needed extra support.
Finally there are the volunteers. Even after all my years of working in the church, I’m still amazed at the generosity of the volunteers. We have volunteers who serve in the office on a weekly basis, faithfully coming in each week to help. These volunteers are vital members of our team. They provide much needed assistance. There are the volunteers that come in to serve for various ministries. For example, every Tuesday, a team of volunteers cooks a meal in the church kitchen and then delivers the meal to individuals living along the Rt. 50 corridor without homes. When I leave work on Tuesday, I can count on there being a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. There are also volunteers that help prepare the Sanctuary for worship each week. They check the candles, walk the pews and make sure everything looks good before Sunday. There are volunteers that answer phones, volunteers that print the bulletins, volunteers that stuff the bulletins; there are so many volunteers that I could write an entire blog post solely on the volunteers that come in during the week. I’m so grateful for these volunteers.
In addition to the regulars that come in and out of Floris, perhaps the ones that touch my heart the most are the people who come into the church for a specific visit. Sometimes it’s a newly engaged couple coming to meet with a pastor about their upcoming wedding. You can usually spot them by the big sappy grins on their faces. Sometimes it’s a mom with a new baby coming by to show off the new baby to the staff. Sometimes people are there for a more somber reason: a funeral. No matter what kind of day I’m having at work, I always take a moment to pause and pray for the family and friends on days when there is a funeral at the church. Many times I’m not familiar with the person who died and so I don’t attend the funeral, but it’s a strange thing to operate like business as usual, when just a few rooms away, a group of people is having one of their hardest days.
In a few weeks, I will be transitioning to a new job. I won’t be working at a church anymore. For ten years, my office building has been the spiritual home for so many. That will all change in a few weeks. I’m excited about the new opportunities that are in front of me, but there are definitely things that I will miss. I will miss the people. I will miss the dedication, the heart and the love that people have for their church. I will miss seeing that every single day.
The one thing you realize when you work in a church is that the church is not about the building. The church is truly made of people. The people are the ones that care for each other. The people are the ones being the hands and feet of Jesus. A building, no matter how nice it is, cannot provide that.