Stealth summer challenge

Being a parent has made me very adept at sneaking into the toy box and pitching whatever I can. You know, as a pastor’s kid, my daughter has inherited multiple boxes of Barbies, complete with clothes and cars circa 1980-something. And then there are the kid’s meal toys, the toddler cuddlies, the puzzles with missing pieces, or the games whose money is hiding in a plastic red wallet somewhere….

You get the picture. Even though my daughter loves all of her toys with intensity, sometimes they’ve just got to go. Quietly. In the night.

I say that being a parent taught me this. But, actually, I think I learned it when I became a pastor. Which brings me to the point of this post.

We’ve all got crap in our churches. Stuff that needs to go, even though someone in our history loved it with intensity. So, my husband Brian, a.k.a. the pastor of disaster, issued the stealth summer challenge. Now that our churches have quieted down a bit, what can we purge?

Here is your mission, if you choose to take it up. Throw something away, or at least hide it, and then report back in the comments. And, in general, what’s the funniest thing that you’ve thrown away? How did you get rid of it? Did anyone notice? What’s the weirdest thing that your church can’t let go of? Have you gotten in trouble for tossing something? And any ideas on why they keep so much stuff?

the photo’s by Art Visionary


12 thoughts on “Stealth summer challenge

  1. What timing! I spent day 2 of the not quite stealth throw-down yesterday. My favorite? Was a globe with plaster hands to hold it – yep, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

    We decided all the crap at churches begins with this phrase “I should take this to Good Will/Salvation Army/Whatever but maybe the church can use it?!”

    I enjoy your blog!

  2. Oh my…when I arrived, the place was a disaster and it was killing the OCD person inside of me – so I had to take action. I first organized a group of people to clean out the supply room (art/education/youth/vbs stuff). So it wasn’t just me who just threw stuff away.

    But then I found another closet that was ridiculous – nothing had moved in the first year that I had been here, so I decided to just not ask (and seek forgiveness later if needed). I threw away or donated a large Christmas tree, a mailbox, a few jackets, and a road sign. I also found 3 nice microphones, 2 bulletin boards, and 2 boxes of unused trashbags that people didn’t know we had.

    It’s not just an issue of how much stuff, but the disorganization – it’s bad stewardship. People don’t know what we have because they can’t find it, so they go out and buy more. After going through the supply closet, we accumulated a large storage box each of yarn, twine, and ribbon…what waste.

  3. I’ve been the victim of the cleanup–the buildings and grounds chair went through the fellowship hall storage closet last summer while I was away at a conference and he threw away anything he didn’t recognize. We lost all the church picnic game supplies and a lot of youth ministry supplies, all of which had to be replaced. The preschool also lost some recess materials. and our parachute? still missing.

    Having said that, I’m up for this challenge…but I think I’ll start in my own office and storage closet first.

  4. About a year and a half ago we got a new organist/choir director. It had been a good long while since we had one so serious. She plays the anthem from the piano which is located a little lower than where the choir sits. The choir loft has a rail in front that is covered by a curtain that a dear old lady made some thirty years ago. The director could not see the choir because of the curtain. She inquired about taking it down. Of course not wanting to rock the boat, I asked about it. I was quickly met with resistance. They used the excuse that someone in the church had made it and it would upset them to take it down. They also said, get this, that the congregation being able to see the choir would distract them from being able to focus on me, the pastor. What was really going on was that the choir was hiding behind the curtain during the service. One gentleman slept during the sermon and another woman read her Bible or another book, another worked on her to do list or grocery list, all while I preached the sermon. I didn’t know all of this until I started paying a little closer attention and actually turning around during my sermon. So one day I went and took the curtain down. I simply folded it neatly and placed it at the back of the choir loft. I used the excuse that the director needed to see the choir. Oh man, that went over like a lead balloon. Several people were really upset and brought up the issue in our administrative council meeting. I explained why I did it. And I told them, “I’m sorry, if you want it back up, anyone can put it back up if they want.” And then I dropped it. Strange enough, a year and a half later, it’s still not up. And no one has left the church or been distracted by the choir. Oh, and the gentleman still sleeps through the sermon, snoring sometimes, but the other choir members seem a little bit more engaged. Imagine that.

  5. The smaller membership church I partner with down in your old stomping grounds began a process of intentional transformation. After about six months we designated a Saturday as “Decluttering” Day . . . everyone was forewarned (multiple times, multiple ways) . . . everyone was invited . . . we even took time during Worship to ask people to write down the five things that could not go!

    D-Day came . . . ten of us showed up . . . we decluttered . . . about five trunk loads and one pick-up truck full of things to the local thrift store . . . about 30 silk flower arrangements . . . faded and dusty . . . only used (one at a time) twice since I had been here . . . only when I put them out . . . assorted dishes that had accumulated in both of our kitchens (yes, both kitchens!). . . coffee pots (five of them!). . . etc.

    And then there was the stuff we threw out . . . hundreds of broken and used candles (white, red, purple) . . . old bulletin inserts . . . old offering envelopes . . . things we couldn’t quite figure out what they were . . . etc.

    The complaining, especially about the flowers “that we used every Sunday” has now died down . . . last night when our Visioning Team was meeting, “isn’t it time to have another decluttering day!” Oh, grief . . . but, you know what, it is.

    God bless,


  6. This is the year! I am getting rid of the High Alter in the storage closet.

    We have liberated 4 truckloads of stuff to be recycled and hauled off. There were 11 filing cabinets in the office and now there are 4.

  7. Easter Bunny outfit. I wish I were kidding. And I got in trouble for it.

    Also, posters from Sunday School curriculum from 19??. They were lithograph prints and apparently “valuable.” To whom, I’m not sure. Although I did get a kick out of dating the curriculum by how pale Jesus was. The darker the skin, the more recent the poster copyright date.

    The key to this kind of project is to either do it yourself, or–if you really want to have help–be very careful about who is invited to help. You want fellow “tossers,” and none of those “keeper” people.

    I have such a project awaiting me this summer. But the closet is so small it gives me claustrophobia.

  8. Love to throw stuff away, love it. When I got here, I threw away a book from the library called “Robert E Lee: Christian” Actually, I gave it to one of my most thoughtful members to “audit” knowing that it would take him a while – hopefully a couple of decades.

    I’m ready to get rid of the rest of the library, but I feel like I should make it a group job, so I dont get all the blame. Anyone need 7 or 8 extra copies of “Walking Across America?”

    I should note that I cleaned out my desk when I arrived and threw away alot of cah-rap, but I kept the stamp that makes the word IMPORTANT in red on any document of my choosing. I havent used it yet. I’m saving it for something really great.

    Cheese, you are so genius.

  9. Oooh, I’ve been doing this all summer. My favorite so far is this one.

    Every Thursday I head over to the youth room (I’m a youth director) and every Thursday there is a wheelchair sitting in the room. So, for the last 3 Thursday’s I have just dumped it in the hallway, hoping that whoever keeps moving it back will get the message: “Quick dumping crap in the youth room.” Today it was back.

    So I, in a fit of rage, tossed it into the parking lot. It broke. The I quietly took it to the dumpster. We’ll see what happens. 🙂

  10. I’ve just been cracking up reading these.

    This week, the Ecumenical Campus Ministries files from the last 15 years are going to be tossed. Evidently, my predecessor was much more organized that I am. But since I haven’t looked into the files once for three years, and they are taking up 1/4 of my closet space, I think it’s time for them to go!

    How does a high altar end up in a storage closet?

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