Who owns the church building? Maybe the better question is who paid for the church building? A pastor that I used to work for always loved to hear people refer to the church as “my church”. So rather than say “at Community church this is going on”, He liked to hear people say’ “at my church this is going on” For him it was affirming that people had taken ownership, it showed that a person closely identified with the church.
It really is great when people take ownership, they treat things better. After all isn’t that why we say, “treat it like your own” if you are using or borrowing something?
Ownership is great, but how can you foster it?
1.) Reminder Notes
In a classy way give people a call to action.
For example, you could put a nice looking table top in the bathroom that says, “As we all are the church, please help in keeping it clean. After you have wiped your hands please use that same paper towel to wipe down the counter.”
You could put similar cards in the kitchen and coffee areas. The key is to keep it a positive call to action. Avoid the shaming, nagging signs like “your mother doesn’t work here, clean up after yourself”.
When I was in college I had a cool opportunity to be in a group that met with a billionaire in our town.
We were walking downtown taking a tour of some of his properties. As we were walking, without missing a second of conversation, the billionaire bent down a picked up an empty cup sitting on the side walk. He then carried that cup to the next stop at one of his properties and threw it in the trash.
The rest of that day – all of us college students were picking up anything that was on the ground that even resembled trash.
He, the Billionaire – on many levels – set an example.
a) He was humble, not above the task of picking up garbage.
b) He showed he cared about what the city looked like.
c) He took ownership of keeping HIS city clean by picking up the cup and carrying it until he found a proper means of disposal..
People follow leaders. What kind of example are you as a leader setting for your congregation?
I am not a big fan of making a lot of announcements during a service, but occasionally it is good to give people a reminder of what, as a church, you think is important.
Again make sure you keep it positive and simple.
For example, “One of our core values is excellence unto the Lord, you can help us accomplish excellence in the presentation of our facility by making sure you pick up the cups and papers around you and dispose of them in the containers in the lobby. Doing this ensures that the next service can walk into a clean sanctuary just as you did this morning.”
What we value we generally make happen. If you value stewardship it would be good to remind people in your annual report about how we as a church must be a good steward of the facility that we have be given the privilege of caring for. Following the reminder, it would be a great time to ask people to volunteer to clean the parking lot, care for the landscaping, paint or do anything that needs to be done to help beautify the facility.
5.) Call to action
Most pastors are good at putting a call to action at the end of their sermon. It would be wise to also occasionally include a call to ownership.
It might be a call for people to represent their church in a positive manner by living a God honoring life. It might be a call to take ownership of the homeless problem in your city. It could be a specific call like caring for the facility that we as the church are all responsible for.
Once people take ownership, they take responsibility. Go and remind people who the church is and who the owners are.