Clutter.  Does your children's ministry have it?  Check out the picture in today's post. 

Does this look like some of your children's ministry closets?  Does it look like your sound booth?  Does this resemble your large group backstage area? Worse yet, does this look like your check-in area?  

Here are some helpful tips about dealing with clutter.

Clutter doesn't reflect excellence.  Excellence is found in the details.  When volunteers and team members see clutter, it sends a message that says the ministry is not committed to excellence.  It says sloppy and messy is the norm. 

Clutter can cause volunteers to lose some respect for the ministry.  You may think clutter is not a big deal.  Trust me.  It is a big deal.  It causes volunteers to think your mindset is clutter and messiness is okay.  They may not say anything about it, but they are thinking it.  

Remember everything walks the talk.  Every part of your ministry is sending a message to volunteers and parents.  

Have you heard the story of Walt Disney and the Tiki Room show?  Walt and his team were creating a show called the Enchanted Tiki Room.  In the show, animatronic birds sing.  Walt came for a final inspection before they opened it to the public.  

He watched the show and then gave them this feedback.  He said, "You can't see the birds breathing. When the birds aren't singing or talking, they are just sitting there motionless.  I'd like you to make it look like they are breathing even when they are not singing or talking."

The Imagineers that were working on the project said, "Walt, we don't need to do that.  People aren't going to notice that the birds are not breathing.  Plus, if we have to go back in and program that, it will cost us time and money." 

Walt looked at them and then said this very wise statement. 

“People can feel perfection. Quality is the imperceptible things that guests might not even know they see. But devotion to detail lets guests know that they’re worth the effort.”

Yes, the Tiki Room birds breathe now.  And their breath whispers a commitment to excellence.

Schedule one or more purges each year.  Go through and get rid of stuff that you won't use in the future. When you do this - don't invite any hoarders to help.  They will freak out and tell you not to get rid of the "stuff" that is now useless. 

Only use the bare necessities.  Less is more.  Less helps your ministry areas look professional.  An example of this is your check-in areas.  Keep supplies, signs, cards, papers, etc. to a minimum.  A great example of keeping things to the minimum is Apple stores.   

Organize your work and storage areas.  Bins and tubs and boxes are your friend.  Label everything and organize it so items are easy to locate.

Take care of your sound booth.  Take a look at your sound booth.  

Old papers from previous weeks laying around?  

Empty coke cans on the counter?  I learned the hard way about keeping food and drinks out of your sound booth.  We had a coke tip over and spill onto our sound board.  It fried it. 

A pile of old, dusty CD's stacked in there? 

Old cables or mics or wires that are not being used anymore? 

When I go to Disney World, I am always looking for ideas. On several visits, I have intentionally looked inside their sound booth that was controlling a show or attraction.  Here's what I saw.  The booths are squeaky clean.  There is no extra "stuff" in them.  They only have the bare necessities in them.  And just like everything else Disney does, it speaks of excellence.

Backstage is just as important as front stage.  

Steve Jobs told this story.  When he was a kid, his dad decided to paint their backyard fence.  They got the outside of the fence done and then his father said, "Now let's paint the backside of the fence."

Steve protested and said it wasn't necessary.  No one would see the back of the fence.

Here's what his dad said. 

“You gotta make the back of the fence - that nobody will see - just as good looking as the front of the fence.  Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you’re dedicated to making something perfect.”

Your backstage area (closets, behind stage, in cabinets, storage rooms, etc.) is just as important as your front stage area. 

Get rid of the clutter.  People will notice and you will be making a statement that God's work deserves our very best effort in all we do.