Over at the parsonage, I share the house with my wife Jeanette and our adult daughter Kaitlin (and, sometimes, guests as well). Jeanette and I have our own bedroom and Kaitlin has hers. But the rest of the house is “shared” space. We each have access to and reasons for using the spare bedrooms, living room, family room, dining room, kitchen, bathrooms, basement, and garage. On any given day, at any given hour, one or more of us may be using one or more of these spaces. (Oh, I forgot, we also have two dogs. Add them to the mix!)
The only way this works, of course, is if we agree to actually share these “shared” spaces, and then respect each other’s usage. For instance, if my daughter Kaitlin is watching something on TV in the family room, I don’t go in and change the channel to something I want. Or if Jeanette is grading her student’s papers on the dining room table, I don’t move them to somewhere else. (And, if I have to, I make sure to put Jeanette’s papers back in the exact place I found them when I’m done.) Just as the two of them are respectful of whatever I may be doing.
And now, during the winter, if one of us feels chilly, we may turn the heat up in the house. But at bedtime we then turn it back down for overnight. It’s called common courtesy.
Well, the very same dynamics are at work in our church building. In fact, it’s just like a house. (We even refer to a church facility as “God’s house,” don’t we?) In other words, it’s a “shared’ space. It’s shared by our congregation, Hope Christian School, and outside community groups as well. Now some spaces are reserved for special people and special purposes (for example the pastor’s study or the church office), just like our bedrooms over at the parsonage. But much of the rest of the building, including the narthex, classrooms, fellowship hall, and even the nave on occasion, consists of that “shared” space that all of us are free to use.
So on any given day, at any given hour, these shared spaces may be used by a church group, a Hope Christian School class, or one of over a dozen outside groups that hold their meetings or gatherings here at Hope. Common courtesy, of course, is absolutely necessary. Each group has to be respectful of the others. And if one of our shared spaces is used, it needs to be left in the same exact way that it was found.
From time to time, and especially in recent weeks, unfortunately, we’ve forgotten to keep this in mind. Often the result is simply inconvenience for the next group using that space. But two weeks ago a pair of scissors and a stapler were left where the preschool children play. And this past weekend, the heat was left on high in one of the classrooms with one of the plastic storage containers pressed up against the baseboard heating register causing the container to melt and the contents to be ruined. We were lucky that it didn’t start a fire!
So I would simply ask that everyone be aware of this situation and, most of all, be respectful of all the others who share the space here at church with you.
Here are some helpful hints:
1. Always remembers that you are not the only one using that room.
2. Always remember to leave the room the same way you found it. (This includes turning the heat back down if you turned it up.)
3. Give the room a quick “once over” before leaving it to make sure that everything is back in place where it needs to be, and there are no potential hazards like dangerous objects left out where younger children could find them.
4. If you’re a parent, keep an eye on your kids to make sure they don’t wander off into places where they shouldn’t be. First, we don’t want them to get hurt. And second, we want to make sure they don’t disrupt anything that belongs to another group.
It’s all basically common sense. We are so privileged to have a facility that is used so often, in so many ways, and by so many groups. But in order to maximize the experience and safety of all, let’s be sure to be courteous to others.