Noise! Mess! It sounds like a constant, rumbling thunderstorm in my office right now. I can’t see out my office window because it is covered over with a plywood ramp. There are about two dozen people, volunteers who are graciously providing their time and talents, replacing the roof on our seminary building. They are stripping off the old tiles directly over my office right now. I am listening to music on headphones so I can get some work done. But the chaos is temporary and well worthwhile. This building was built twenty years ago and we’ve begun having leaks whenever we have a hard, driving rain. We really need the new roof.
I am reminded that change can be messy. If it is not prepared well, it can be disastrous. This roofing project did not begin on Monday when the volunteers arrived. It began months ago with raising funds, ordering materials, making plans. The roofing materials were delivered last week. The volunteers didn’t just begin ripping off roofing wherever they liked. They began at one end and began working systematically down the building. I don’t think that was instinctive. I’m sure they received some instructions on where to begin and what needed doing.
Too often, I’ve seen the disastrous effects of “change” when change was made without sufficient thought or planning. Perhaps one example will suffice. Many years ago I was part of an organization which decided to eliminate the grounds department as a cost-saving measure. Mowing was outsourced to a lawn service. Mowing was adequate, but other tasks such as trimming hedges and trees suffered. The timers which controlled the lawn sprinkler systems were usually located in basement boiler rooms and there was a reluctance to give the lawn service keys which would give them almost unlimited access to our buildings.
We in the electrical department needed to install control boxes on the exterior of some buildings so that the lawn service could check and repair the sprinkler systems. The instructions we were given for the installation of the remote controls were inadequately thought through and one box had to be moved TWICE, involving many hours of skilled labor and hundreds of feet of wasted copper wire. In the long run I’m sure outsourcing cost the company more. I could multiply the examples. Many churches and organizations could benefit from what we used to call “The seven P’s”: Proper Prior Planning Prevents P— Poor Performance. (I’ve omitted the vulgarity which is usually used—perhaps we can supply “pretty” and get the sense of it.)
Fortunately, the current roofing project appears to be well planned and progressing rapidly. I’m sure that that there have been glitches—there always are—but it is getting done. I’m thankful for the volunteers who are making this happen. And yes, I’ll be relieved when the “thunder” stops. Kudos to Wayne and his crew.