From the Archives: The Hospitality of Toilet Paper

This post is from the archives. It seems relevant due to a recent experience at a conference.

 Several years ago, a member of a church I worked at came to me before a worship service and said, “Man, I will increase my giving if you can make sure the Trustee’s will buy softer toilet paper. That stuff in there is like sandpaper!”

It should be noted, this member was very active in the life of the church through the giving of his time, his treasures, and his talents. It should also be noted, he was being completely serious.

Toilet paper is no laughing matter. I happen to be a toilet paper snob. I prefer a certain brand…and a certain sub-category of that certain brand. And, if people try to buy a different brand or a different line within the same brand…well, I get very indignant. I make statements like, “you know I like _____. Why would you buy _____? Just buy the stuff I like! Are you trying to kill me?” Unfortunately, I am not exaggerating. Pray for Emily…she has to put up with a lot!

So, when this individual came to me, I found myself overwhelmed with a sense of compassion and understanding. He was right. That toilet paper was just like sandpaper.

And, in a roundabout manner, it communicated a message.

That message: We don’t care about your comfort in the restroom.

Now, some may say that I am going overboard. But, we have to realize that even the smallest things communicate a message…they have an impact on the overall experience one has when they visit your church or business.

Maybe businesses and places of worship should consider their toilet paper as a hospitality issue. Are you putting out your best? Or are you trying to save a couple of dollars by purchasing individually wrapped rolls that come in boxes of 500 and barely qualify as a paper product suitable for human use?

Last week, I found myself at Reardon Auditorium on the campus of Anderson University. Now this is a place that cost over $33,000 per year for students to attend (includes tuition, room, food service, and the ever important “miscellaneous” fees). At one point, I found myself in the men’s restroom. I was greatly disappointed. I expected more. Sitting in that bathroom, I did not find myself feeling welcomed. I did not find myself thinking, “Wow, this is a place that I want to send my daughters for their college education.” Instead, I was thinking, “I do not think my great-grandmother made a deal with AU for the land that this building is sitting on in order for them to put this kind of sub-quality toilet paper in their restrooms.” I was not overwhelmed by radical hospitality.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to splurge for the toilet paper that has lotion…but it would leave a pretty positive impression.

I’m just saying that we have to think about everything that contributes to the overall experience of our visitors…even the toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper…and the overall condition and smell of a bathroom…could contribute to the radical hospitality that a church or business displays to its visitors. What does the bathroom of your church or business communicate to your visitors?

“Offer hospitality to one another…without grumbling.” ~1Peter 4:9

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” ~Hebrews 13:2

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” ~Romans 12:13


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