Caulk is the gooey stuff used around windows and sinks that fills the gaps. It stops water from seeping into cracks, getting behind your tub, and doing damage that would be costly to repair. Caulk is also used to seal window and door frames to keep the cold air out in the winter and the cool air in during the summer, making those in the home more comfortable. Caulk is wonderfully useful around the house, but it is a terrible ministry model.
Associates are often tempted to do “caulk ministry,” filling the gaps, or making sure nothing falls through the cracks in the ministries they serve. I found myself doing some caulking recently.
The women’s ministry at our church has been struggling for the past year or so. No one wants to lead it right now, and we, as a staff, have been content to allow that field to go fallow for a time, knowing that a season of rest may make the soil more fertile for better ministry in the future. Everyone was happy with that solution. But I flinched.
As the time for the annual Cookie Walk, a giant Christmas cookie sale led by our women’s ministry, drew near, my caulk instinct kicked in. With an inactive women’s ministry there would be no Cookie Walk unless someone did something. So I called a meeting. Before long this male associate pastor was helping coordinate the women’s ministry’s Cookie Walk. I didn’t want the Cookie Walk, a good ministry, to fall through the cracks, so I started caulking.
My efforts helped alleviate the pain a missing Cookie Walk might have caused. Inadvertently though, my caulking may have also kept our women’s ministry from moving forward to something new and exciting. A change will have to wait at least another year, probably more.
Caulk is sometimes used to keep water out of places where it can cause damage, or to seal out a draft that might make a room less comfortable. Great for houses, not so great for ministries.
Stretching the metaphor farther, hopefully without breaking it, water and wind are symbols used for the Spirit of God. As caulk keeps water and wind in their proper place, so our fill-the-gaps ministry may shut out the Spirit. When we caulk well, we may be keeping the Spirit from stirring things up and inspiring new ministry.
Sometimes letting a Cookie Walk not happen, allowing the water to cause a little damage, or tolerating an uncomfortable draft, is a good thing. It gives the church an opportunity, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, to rebuild and remodel that ministry. Which may be just what the Spirit is trying to do.
Have you ever served as caulk? What can we do to stop caulk ministry in the future?