I have seen many different children’s ministries around the country. It is amazing to me the differences between an orderly ministry and a disorderly ministry. A ministry that is clean and clutter free just seems more appealing.

Mirror Image?

I have to take you back 10-15 years ago when I was a high school chemistry teacher. I taught next to a teacher and our rooms were identical in their layout. We both had lab space, we both had classroom space. I have a well-defined sense of OCD. Truly, I do have the spiritual gift of OCD. I love order, I crave order.

As a chemistry teacher, my room was very, very clean. I spent great amounts of time giving out extra credit to students who would clean my glassware, wipe down my tables, and make sure my area was in complete order.

Now, let’s contrast this to the teacher who taught next to me. The only difference was who ran the room. This teacher had random chemical spills left on tables, powders and liquids that had evaporated away and this teacher had glassware stacked up by the back sink and there were stacks of messes all over her room.

Cleanliness Begets Cleanliness

Here is my philosophy; messy begets messy, cleanliness begets cleanliness. If a student in my chemistry classroom were to spill something, they would look at it in relationship to its surroundings and see one of these things is not like the other! They would notice their mess totally stood out like a sore thumb in my clean classroom. Therefore, they would clean up their mess. However, in the other chemistry teacher’s classroom, if someone spilled and made a mess, it didn’t stand out but rather blended right in. Therefore, they would leave that mess.

Folks, here is what I’m saying: if you have an orderly ministry people will want to continue to keep and retain that order. It is inherent in their DNA. Messiness begets messiness, cleanliness begets cleanliness.

Reputation for Order

I have to fast forward. Now I am a children’s pastor at a large church and a couple of times a year the senior pastor would highjack a staff meeting and walk everyone around the building pointing out things he didn’t like. It was quite uncomfortable, especially for other ministry areas who did not have an ethic for cleanliness. It would be embarrassing to have the senior pastor walk around and point out your disastrously dirty area. And that actually happened.

However, when they would turn the corner and come into the children’s ministry area, by God’s grace, we had a clean and spotless area. This did us much good. We had a reputation of order, we had a reputation of cleanliness, and it made a difference. People literally wanted to be in our area.

Calm Among the Chaos

Think about it, is there a sense of calm when you find yourself in a clean space? I think yes. I think volunteers who live chaotic lives and are walking in to work with kids who often are chaotic, they find a little more peace in a clean area.

The human brain craves order. It is seeking to find patterns and seeking to make sense of the surroundings. The human brain is constantly finding ways of efficiency. When it has to spend extra calories and extra energy to make sense of cluttered surroundings, that is a waste.

I want my volunteers to be in an area where the surroundings don’t distract and don’t dismantle. What I want is for volunteers to walk in and feel a sense of peace and order. Therefore, they can focus their energies on disorderly and disruptive kids and leading them to the truths of Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day, an orderly ministry is more appealing — clean up already!