What Should Be in a Church Restroom?

All the lambs have needs

All the lambs have needs

You’d think church restrooms would be a no brainer. I mean all you need is a plumbed porcelain seat and a sink. And both of them should function properly.

But honestly, I’ve been visiting a number of churches of different denominations lately (what with Holy Week, meetings, and presentations), and let me tell you… I think Lutherans could beef up their bathrooms a bit and be in the running for “The Best Place to Hide Out if You Want to Avoid ‘Sharing of the Peace.’”

For those of you who don’t know about “Sharing of the Peace” it’s a custom in which a person turns to the person next to them, extends their hand and says, “Peace be with you.” It occurs after the sermon and blessing, and then congregants are encouraged to share the peace with one another.

That’s when all chaos breaks out for Lutherans. For years we’ve been taught to sit quietly in our pews, chairs, or whatever sitting device is being used. No waving of the hands, or shouting random “Amens”, and sermons are rarely interactive.

But things have changed. At first, folks were reticent, but they’d been sitting a while, listening to a sermon and speaking the liturgical script, so they were ready to stretch their legs a bit and whisper a shy, “God bless you to their neighbor.” But now…like many changes…we start wearing it like we thought of it. At the mention of “Share the peace,” folks jump out of their seats, grab hands and start pumping them, adding a blessing. Borders are crossed. People who have sat in one section of the church all their lives take a tour through other sections. The choir makes a break from their music stands.

If it’s cold and flu season, we’ve been instructed not to share our germs, but many “Peace-givers” cheat by bumping fists and even rubbing elbows. My Lutheran ancestors would be wide-eyed with shock.

As you can imagine, there are some who don’t care for the practice, but they’ve found it’s a great time to make a bathroom exit.  (After all, sometimes the sermons are long, and we’ve just had 2 cups of strong, Lutheran coffee).

You thought I’d forgotten about the topic, hadn’t you?

For Your Restroom Beautification Pleasure…here’s your checklist…

  • Good smelling soap (Well, of course, this is a committee smell-test project)
  • Hand Lotion (Not the stuff that didn’t sell at the church rummage sale)
  • Hygiene products for our soft parts
  • A plunger (Nothing’s more embarrassing than trying to find someone to tell about the toilet that’s overflowing).
  • A box of tissues (Make that two boxes. The restroom is a favorite crying spot.)
  • A step stool for our “little soon-to-be-women”
  • A couple of tasteful wall decorations. (One holy and one non-liturgical to appeal to both members and visitors.)
  • And for St. Peter’s sake, put the trash can next to the door!! We use the same paper towel to dry our hands AND grab the door handle. Don’t make us heave the towel across the bathroom as we exit.

I recently had the chance to use the Award-winning “Best Bathroom” in Vancouver, British Columbia. (I’m not kidding…there was a contest.)

I submitted these pictures to our church property committee, hoping they’d make structural changes in our old restrooms.

A two-seater in the same stall. Because women like to go to the bathroom at the same time.

A two-seater in the same stall. Because women like to go to the bathroom at the same time.

The door is appropriately marked

The door is appropriately marked

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re still laughing.

Any more bathroom recommendations?

Fancy-Toilet.1

Advertisements appear in the mirror. Who needs a newsletter? Just go to the restroom and check the mirror.

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Lutheran Ladies Confused, Overused, and Never Schmoozed

English: Vacation Bible School at the Monsey C...

As much as I grumble about change, sometimes expectations need to take a flying leap into the nearest disposal.

During a Council meeting, we discovered the Ladies’ Circle was branded with certain expectations.

Committee members were making reports of “happenings” which went something like this…

1)      “Well, this church is going to host an all-day hospitality workshop for the district. And we’re working with the Ladies’ Circle to provide lunch and snacks.”

Sounds  exciting. Next report….

2)      “There’s a Memorial Service on Friday.  The Ladies’ Circle will provide a meal for family and friends.”

They always honor the families with such a wonderful gift.  Next report

3)      “The church needs a new heating unit, so we’d like to have BBQ fundraiser. Or maybe a strawberry shortcake feed.  We’re trying to get the Ladies’ Circle to help with the details, but they’re slow in getting back to me.”

Let us know when you get it worked out.  Next report on volunteers.

 4)      “Well, we’re having trouble getting volunteers for coffee hour.  Maybe the Ladies’ Circle will fill in when no one signs up?”

And

5)      “We could use help providing the snacks for Vacation Bible School, but a number of the women in the Ladies’ Circle say they aren’t going to be around….”

Okay…when the litany of requests line-up, the expectations become obvious.  Often, IF it has to do with food, some people think a gangle of church ladies are standing by, bowls and spatulas in hand, waiting to whip up…and even more importantly…clean up.

Usually the ladies consider it an honor to help out. A gift.  And it is—until everyone starts expecting that it’s their job.

In this day when so many of the women work and those that are retired are traveling, sometimes there aren’t enough hands to do all the great projects everyone else comes up with.

 HOW TO FIX IT?  (Because we love to fix things).

  • Change expectations.   Just because it has to do with kitchens, coffee, or food, doesn’t mean it’s a Ladies’ Circle “thing.”  One of the best fundraisers I’ve been to was a men’s chili cook-off. Probably because men were cooking and cleaning, but it was totally worth the money to watch.
  • And it’s great when different groups host coffee meet/greet.  The 3rd/4th Grade hosted coffee hour by baking animal cookies one Sunday and serving the next Sunday. I think there was a lesson about Noah in there somewhere, but it sure got a lot of different people involved.
  • But…what if “nobody wants to do it?”  That’s tough one.  Rather than asking the same people over and over until they burn out, perhaps it’s time to change the expectation that it must be done.   And that’s how change comes about.   Some people will be shocked into volunteering when they find out the annual rummage sale isn’t taking place because no one else wanted to organize it.  And if no one volunteers?  Perhaps it’s time for a break? Let it go for a while.
  • Lastly, When’s the last time you thanked the Ladies’ Circle?  Or the Property Committee? or the the Sunday School Teachers?  Or….. you get the idea. I mean really thanked them, in addition to  hurling a few bodacious words their way.

    This image was selected as a picture of the we...

    This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Czech Wikipedia for th week, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A card. A cookie is nice. Yes indeed, people are usually willing to volunteer. It’s a gift. But when a contribution is taken for granted,  it tends to fray the bow on the present.

If you wanted to say thanks and schmooze your Lutheran Ladies’ Circle today, (or your favorite volunteer group), I’m sure it would be appreciated.  And remember: Chocolate is always welcome.