The latest rage on Netflix is Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, an eight-episode series in which an internationally-renowned organizational consultant goes into cluttered homes and helps families cull their possessions. All of the people that Kondo works with are at some sort of transition point in their lives. Some are newlyweds or new homeowners. Others are readying themselves for the arrival of a baby, grieving a loss, or wanting to move from living like students to inhabiting more adult personas. These changes provide the urgency for making their home more welcoming.
The tidying method Marie Kondo uses is not a light-a-match-and-walk-away approach. Instead, she asks her clients to hold each article of clothing, book, or tool and note whether it sparks joy. If it does, keep it and find a more efficient way to store it (for example, the KonMari method of folding clothes). If it doesn’t, say “thank you” and donate, recycle, or dispose of it. The overall purpose of the tidying is to be grateful for the past and to imagine the future you want to move toward, being more thoughtful about what you need in order to get there.
There is much about the KonMari method that is worthy of churches’ consideration. Lots of congregations, even (maybe particularly) small ones, are stooped over from the weight of so many ministries. As more are added, few to none are brought to an intentional close, making the church’s mission unclear and stretching congregation’s financial and people resources much too thin. What might it look like, then, to identify what God’s purpose for your church is? To name everything that the church is doing, just as Marie Kondo requests that her clients put every clothing item on the bed and every book on the floor to look through? To examine each ministry, noting whether it is an essential part of the present and/or future and saying a sincere “thank you” to those that are not? A pastoral transition is a great time to do this work, because there is already ongoing discussion about who we are as a church and what we believe God wants us to be and do.
At the end of each episode of Tidying Up, the families have worked through clashing priorities and conflict styles to create a home that reflects who they want to be. And while I realize this is a tv show that is comprised of carefully curated clips, the struggles the subjects go through are a microcosm of congregational community, and the desire to move forward with intentionality rings deeply true. So consider capturing the cultural moment, taking the best of what the KonMari method has to offer and assessing your church’s ministries for a more peaceful, purposeful future.