Less is More! The Problem with Clutter in our ministries

My son's first grade teacher and I having been decluttering the classroom to be ready for fall. We kept saying out loud, “LESS IS MORE!” When we finished, the room was calm and inviting. This helps the kids focus and learn. Less stimulation and/or the right stimulation really help all kids.

I realized I needed to follow the LESS IS MORE mantra in our youth space too. I’ve found over the years that the Youth Room often ends up full of leftover food or crumbs, projects that did not make home, leftover props from meetings, old and faded posters, and, worst of all, the " free" couch that some one “donated" dumped in the Youth Room when you were not there!

Whether the youth share a meeting space with another group through the week or they have a designated space, either way, presentation is so important to the success of our ministry.

I walked in the youth room a few weeks ago excited and ready to declutter and clean. But after 5 minutes, I was overwhelmed. And so for the last two weeks I have been dedicating 30 minutes a day to decluttering the Youth Room. I found that the 30 min a day declutter was what I could handle: enough to see progress, but not so much that I feel it will never end.

I have asked for the youth to help me declutter the big and left over stuff. But I have found that I worked best alone as I am creating the newer LESS IS MORE version of the room. 

To help me focus, I put a poster list on the wall of these questions (yes, I took it down at the end):

Is the youth room welcoming? Safe? Clean?
Are handouts updated and in a place that all can see?
Are posters or photos on the wall timely? Do they relate to our youth? (A poster that has been on the wall for more then a few years needs to be updated. Reuse the posters every few years.)
Are snacks in airtight containers?
Are project and art supplies organized? Can they be found by all?
Are the fridge and sink clean?
Is there a welcome mat?
Is signage welcoming? Is the info correct?
Does the room need to be repainted?
Are the windows clean?
Do we need / use all this furniture?

Try to look at the room through the eyes of a newcomer. What does this room say to someone who doesn’t already know and love you? Not only does the youth room send an important message to the new families but to all youth and parents. When a youth space becomes a closet or dumping space throughout the year, it says to all entering, “We don't really care or honor our youth or youth ministries.”

A decluttered space is also helpful to us the leaders too. When a youth room is clean and calm I am a better youth leader. Both the youth and the leaders will be affected subtlety and outwardly by the LESS IS MORE space you have created for all who enter the youth space.

The youth want a place that does not overwhelm them. They want a place that they begin to own and take care of, that they can invite their friends to, and where they feel safe to share their thoughts and questions. 

I believe that the youth may not notice a lot of what we have completed over the summer, yet the room will feel calmer, more inviting, and like a fun place to be. And I believe that will have an impact on the quality of our meetings. When our youth continue to meet in this new de-cluttered welcoming space, I will continue the mantra LESS is MORE throughout the year!