Our church hosted a rummage sale as a part of our city-wide garage sales this weekend. We invited congregation members to bring us their items, we sorted and priced them and the church kept the proceeds. About 8 people put in a bunch of work and over two days we made almost $600… not too shabby!
One of our big ticket items was a silver coffee and tea service set from the church. It had been stored under a cabinet for years and then made its way up to a third floor storage room. I’m not sure when it was used last, but I can verify it has been at least five years. Also for sale were silver spoons, forks, and knives from the church – many complete with a “Methodist Episcopal Church” engraving. They could be purchased for 10 cents each.
As we priced out the items and wrung our hands about whether or not to add them to the garage sale, we came to a conclusion… we are not the church of 1950. It is rare for someone to wear a tie in our church. Sports jackets and suits are rarely seen on a Sunday morning and are becoming less common even for funerals. Our congregation is full of casual everyday folks… and silver isn’t for casual everyday use.
Rather than clutter up our cupboards with items we will never use, we can offer them to a good home and use that money for the current ministry of our church. $175 will send two kids to camp, or buy a full years worth of sunday school materials for the nursery class. $175 will nearly purchase two new lighter-weight tables for our fellowship hall or it will pay one months worth of the electric bill this spring. It will do a whole lot of things that a fancy silver set in the storage room will not.
But I think more than the money we received for that set, we also were reminded that our identity has changed.
Marengo is a blue collar town. Marengo is full of older folks on fixed incomes and young folks struggling to raise their children. Our mission field has changed and instead of being stuck in old ways, we are excited and willing to sell off a few of those old contraptions in order to become and live into the church of the 21st century in small-town Iowa.
I heard not one peep of disappointment in our decision to sell the good silver. A few folks picked up a set of silverware for nostalgia. And the coffee/tea set found a good home.
That, I believe, is a good day of ministry.