Friday, May 24, 2013

Clear the Clutter

Have you ever been to a different church than the church you go to? Have you ever snooped around? Sneaking into rooms that are closed and lights turned off? Trying to find the lights so you can get a glimpse of the sanctuary? Trying to break into the sound room so you can see their sound board? Searching for a key to get into locked offices? Oh- right, yeah I would never do that.....

If you're anything like me you've done your fair share of "research" at other churches.

Have you even been to a church and met for small group Bible study, gone to a Sunday school class, or sat through a service?  Do you ever notice those things, those cluttered things that seem out of place? They are the elephant in the room to you, but everyone around you seems to completely ignore the elephant. Sitting on his lap. Ducking out of the way of his swaying trunk. Walking underneath it. Dodging its massive hooves (is that what you call an elephant's feet?) They even named him! Elroy. Elroy the elephant. They have a place reserved for him in the sanctuary. It's an aisle seat, he's a big guy. Meanwhile you're intently focused on him to the point that whatever study or sermon is taking place is the absolute last thing on your mind.

Often times this is what our youth ministry meeting areas look like. Elroy the elephant's bedroom. Yet we are baffled by the fact that no students come back to visit our ministry!

When I first started at the church I am currently serving the student ministry met in a garage. Well the side room attached to a garage. We still meet there, but it looks completely different than when I began.

When I started there were four massive industrial grade shelving units sitting back to back with a blue sheet Velcroed to the shelves in order to cover up everything on them but it was fairly obvious that something was stored underneath them because there wasn't enough storage and items were stuff on-top of the shelves and protruding out from the shelves making huge bulges through the sheet!  Additionally at the end of these "covered" shelves there were some more shelves chalked full of old game resources for youth ministry like pencil cases, Styrofoam cups, and get this, a beaten up, formerly wet, now dried roll of toilet paper!

Now it has been painted, and mostly removed of the clutter.  We aptly call it "The Shed" and you know what? We love it out there!  It just took some sprucing up.

Clutter often times becomes invisible to us.

Andy Stanley wrote a book called Deep & Wide and in that book he addresses clutter:

"The messages your environments communicate have the potential to trump your primary message. If you don’t see a mess, if you aren’t bothered by clutter, you need to make sure there is someone around you who does see it and is bothered by it. An uncomfortable or distracting setting can derail ministry before it begins. The sermon begins in the parking lot."

Though we are in youth ministry, this principle still applies!

Clean up your area. Let your students be proud of where you meet. Do you keep dried up toilet paper rolls laying around on visible shelves at your house, next to Elroy? Then don't do it in your youth rooms! Make Elroy pick up, behave himself! Visiting students aren't as comfortable with Elroy as you and your regular attending students are.

What are some areas or things that you have successfully decluttered in your youth rooms?

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