As we work together in our church buildings, most of us share rooms or spaces with others. Meeting rooms are usually used by many different groups. In some settings, preschool or day care classrooms are used on Sunday mornings for Sunday school classes. Common areas are used by many people coming and going to a variety of events.
Based on my experience both as a day school teacher and as a volunteer, I can vouch for the tension that often arises from this kind of sharing. There are ways to minimize the tension, though, when everyone using a space willingly shares the responsibility of caring for that space.
As you plan for your fall ministries this summer, use the opportunity to think this through. How will you help to set a positive tone for sharing space with others? Here are a few ideas of my own. Maybe you will come up with others.
Since many different groups use meeting rooms, you will want to cue people in on how to help keep the space tidy for others. For example, clearly labeling drawers and cabinet doors will help people put things away. Posting a check list of “Things To Do Before Leaving” will also help. Use positive statements to indicate what needs to be done. For example:
To help get this room ready for the next group that will use it, please take a few moments before you leave to . . .
• Put away all the equipment and materials you used.
• Clean the tables. (Wipes are in the cabinet).
• Put tables and chairs back where you found them.
• Pick up any trash and take it to the dumpster.
• Turn out the lights.
Thank you for helping take care of our church!
Shared Classroom Space
When volunteer teachers share classroom space with day care workers, professional preschool teachers, or day school classes, everyone needs to work in partnership. As a first step, the adults need to sit down together to talk about how they will work together. This meeting can set a positive tone for the entire school year.
During this meeting, the teachers who use the space throughout the week create a welcoming place for the weekend volunteers. For example, they can . . .
• Provide a place for the Sunday morning ministry to store materials.
• Specify any materials that are okay to use on Sunday.
• If necessary, share a map of the room arrangement to help weekend volunteers put the furniture they move back into place.
• Share contact information, so they can get in touch when need be.
During this meeting, volunteers can also communicate their respect for the learners and teachers who use the space during the week. For example, they can . . .
• Communicate their commitment to clean up thoroughly before leaving. This is so important, because most classrooms are cleaned late on Friday or on Saturday and will not be cleaned again until Monday evening.
• Plan to use their own set of consumable materials, understanding that materials in the classroom are meant for use in the weekday programs.
• Help their students refrain from using equipment and materials that belong to students enrolled in the weekday programs (e.g., pencils, crayons, Bibles).
When everyone agrees on these boundaries and abides by them, a sense of common ministry can grow and respect prevails.
Blessings as you support one another with an important nuts and bolts aspect of working together in ministry!