by Lauren Michelle Major
Have you ever walked in church alone? Have you paced the aisles of pews in the dark, walked the back hallways, seen the boiler room with its hulking monster and blinking eyes? Have you sat alone with no sound but the gentle hum of the AC and searched for meaning in the colored glass? Have you been to the choir room, the sacristy, the chapel, the sanctuary, the narthex, the welcome center, searching for any last human relics before you turned out the lights and locked the doors?
Have you ever thought of church, the community you belong to, as a business? I am in the business of people. Every day, Monday through Friday, I walk into church and open the door, raise the shade, turn on the phones, and ask what I can do for you. It doesn’t matter if you are a member, if you’ve made a donation, or if I will only ever speak to you once. For the time that we are speaking my job is to be there for you.
Of course there are other sides to the business, more ways to serve people. I make bulletins so that, should you attend Sunday’s service, you will be able to understand why those around you are greeting each other, praying, and sometimes singing. You don’t need to know the liturgy. I’ve provided it for you and you only have to speak where it is bolded.
I also order paper, pens, white out, computer ink, hymnals, children’s bulletins, binders, markers, white board markers, anything that makes an office tick-tock along like clockwork. Do you need to make a copy or send a fax? I’m your gal. I’m also your gal if you need money for groceries or gas.
If you’ve had a loved one die and need a cool place to rest, a hot cup of coffee, and a listening ear. you know where to find me. And if you need to have a memorial I can help you arrange the service. You know, it’s odd, but most memorials are more happy than sad. I’ve learned how to plan a wedding, a concert, and a memorial all at the same time. After a while they don’t seem as different as they sound. They are all celebrations of the same life.
When I go to work I never really know what to expect. I have seen theft, injury, and death. I have seen giving, healing, and joy.I have met people who are trying to take advantage of me, sure that a church will easily have the wool pulled over its eyes in its haste to help, and I have seen people desperately in need. I have seen people so eager to give back that it hurts. I have had my life threatened and blessed. Sometimes in the same day.
I have had pushy men try to sell me office supplies and political agendas while I am fixing the copier machine after someone else tried to “fix” it the wrong way. I have created annual reports, explained budgets, and handed out pay checks. I am sometimes a godsend and sometimes the bitch who said you couldn’t sit in your car and make out across from our preschool playground.
I am the office manager. One of many faces of the church. I am the weekday face. I am the one who sits in the office after the crowds have gone home and who prepares the building and business for Sunday.
I have seen many other faces of the church. I have seen the volunteers who refuse to go home until they have exhausted themselves pulling weeds. I have seen artists create beautiful murals for Easter. I have seen musicians pour themselves into their instruments. I have seen florists arrange bouquets for Sunday. I have seen the pastor visit those who are broken, mentally or physically. I have seen the property manager drop what he is doing to fix an over flowing toilet. I have seen humans who try, fail, and succeed. I have seen people who are not too proud to ask for help. And at the end of the day I turn out the lights and lock the doors. I have seen a building hold a community. I have seen the church.
Lauren Michelle Major graduated with a bachelor’s in Creative Writing and minors in Journalism and Music from Whitworth University in 2012. She now lives with her husband and quirky little dog in Albuquerque. From there she runs the women’s lifestyle blog How To: Make Home and works as an office manager at a local church.
Image by Jason Scott Kofke is from here.