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Clear the clutter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Many of our church classrooms could hold more people if we just cleared them of the clutter that has accumulated throughout the months and years.

You know how you get used to the junk in your home — or garage — over time, but notice the same junk when you’re in someone else’s house? That’s the way it is at church, too. A good Sunday School experience begins with a welcoming environment.

Here are a few places to begin the spring cleaning:

— Preschool toys and equipment. Almost all preschool rooms have old — perhaps even unsafe — toys and equipment that can be disposed of. Maybe it’s a plastic slide, an extra baby bed or too many chairs for the workers. Take a critical look around and eliminate as much of the equipment as you can. Parents will feel better about leaving their preschooler in an uncluttered room, and you’ll create more space for those preschoolers.

— Stockpiled art supplies in children’s rooms. There are some supplies that should be in every children’s room: markers, glue, scissors, etc. But far too many rooms have far too many supplies. Some churches have discovered that they can remove an entire cabinet from every room just by establishing a central resource room. (See the next point.)

— Establish a resource room. Secure a room that is too small for a class, but large enough to line two or three walls with shelves. Label plastic containers with the names of popular art items and arrange them alphabetically on the shelves. Enlist a volunteer to keep the room organized and neat — and “deputize” that person to round up supplies from the classrooms. Also, encourage teachers to return supplies to the resource room after each session. (The absence of a place to stockpile supplies in the classrooms is an added incentive.)

— Get rid of old stuffed furniture in the youth area. Why do old sofas, recliners and half-broken ping pong tables always tend to end up in the youth room? Youth rooms should not look like garage sale sites. Consider hauling it all off — or having a garage sale.

— Evaluate the use of tables in adult classrooms. I realize this may be tough to hear, but tables in adult classrooms almost always limit the number of people the room will accommodate. Some classes put chairs around the perimeter of the room for late arrivers or high-attendance days, but a visitor who gets no place at the table will not likely return. For many classes, the first step to signaling an intent to grow may be the removal of the tables. Sure, it could be less convenient, but you’ll be amazed how many more people the room will hold.

— Old posters and stuff. While you’re at it, why not go ahead and take down old posters and clean old bulletins and literature out of desks and drawers? You may discover the only real function of the desk has been as a disorganized file cabinet. Since you’re already in de-cluttering mode, why not freshen up the bulletin boards and straighten the shelves?

You will be amazed what a little “uncluttering” will do to make your Bible study experience more pleasant for the regular attendees, and more inviting for guests. Not having many guests? Maybe the first step is to “get ready for company” and see what God can do.
David Francis is director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • David Francis