Watercooler Wednesday-Seven Layers of (Ministry) Organization

This is the second post in the series SEVEN LAYERS.  Using the ideas of Christopher Lowell, who uses these principles in Interior Design, we apply them to the areas of Worship Space and Ministry Organization.  (By the way-this isn't my office picture-really!)

It's also Wednesday, time for a Watercooler Break, and a time to listen to what the creatives are saying over at Randy Elrod's blog.

Last weeks' post was about Worship Design.  As was pointed out to me by Danny Poyner, it was really about Worship Space design, although I've tried to think about the layers of  worship when planning.    

In his book THE SEVEN LAYERS OF ORGANIZATION, Lowell basically walks you through some principles to live by to de-clutter your life.  I'm not a good student of this right now--I think it's because I go from project to project, but I can tell you that it will make a difference in your life.  When clutter is around--it somehow chokes out the creativity.
Here are his SEVEN LAYERS OF ORGANIZATION  followed by my application to ministry.  If you have some additional suggestions--comment on this blog.
  • 1. Assess & Schedule--take the big picture look at what you want to achieve in the space. I guess this is probably the best place to start. How many of us have jumped in to a project without setting out where we wanted to end up; only to find ourselves deeply frustrated half-way through the project.  Once you know where you want to go--the schedule it.  I guess that applies to the materials we've stuck in the Garage, hoping that soon we'll have a garage sale--Schedule it.    
  •   Ministry Application:  Take a big picture look at where you are and where you want to go. Yearly goals and objectives keep things on track and help you measure progress. Schedule things (using productivity tools --like PLANNING CENTER ONLINE!) Task Manager on Outlook can be your friend --really!
  • 2.Detach & Purge- One of the most important steps of organization is this step where you take the material, detach yourself from the  object and make a judgement on whether this is something you'll use everyday, weekly, monthly, yearly or NEVER.  Most of the things in our lives these days probably fall into the latter category.  Things that you use frequently should be close at hand; things that are seldom used need to find a handy spot out of mind, but quickly accessed.  Lowell does this by setting a time limit (you have to get it done in a certain amount of time)
  •   Ministry Application:  How many of us are still holding on to old books and files and  things that we thought we'd need to have a copy to bring back that one good idea?  I just    realized the other day I probably have every video I've ever produced or made--                  sometimes for just a one time thing. It's time to turn them loose.  When I do that, I will really maximize my resources because I'll know where the good stuff is and not be so  frustrated when I wade through the clutter to get to it.  Time to throw away those old files. In these days of cheap storage media--why not get an external drive to store artifacts on. Old books you'll never use again make great ALTERED BOOKS (see here)  Do I really need to keep all of those cd's--can't I find a better organization system for these songs (Some of them need to find the garbage!)  
  • 3. Reclaim & Update  One of Lowell's suggestions is to look at ways to repurpose items--maybe a bookshelf before becomes a table or divider next.   He's a big proponent of paint, paint paint and reuse!
  • Ministry Application:  Obviously things are sometimes dated and can only be used for a certain amount of time before they're beyond use.  You'll need to hold on to them for a long time before they come back around (like those Tie-Died Youth Choir t-shirts).  It's ok for us to have resources for today.  But the wiser choice may be to make purchases that have multiple uses. For example, in buying materials and things for backdrops and props--think of multiple uses for these items.  We have sets of things that have been unscrewed, repainted, madeover, cut, sewn and repurposed many times.  Our set from our last series is going to be made over for a Summer Camp this year--multiple purposes for these resources is smart stewardship.  What's hiding in those closets that can find new uses in new ways?  How can you reinvent something for a new use?
  • 4. Sort & Contain  This  one is the action point of Delete and Purge.  Once you have everything sorted into Always Use, Sometimes Use and Seldom Use--you've got to find a way to contain it.
  • Ministry Application:  I'm constantly amazed that just after I have everything sorted and contained, it doesn't take long for the clutter to come back.  I think most of that is from busyness and the need to move on to the next project.  Be sure and schedule some wrap up time after each project to make sure things get back to their places.  We use clear plastic tubs to sort and store things in. It's easy to see the containers; they stack easily; and are handy for one person to carry from place to place.
  • 5. Design & Build  -Now that all of the hard work is done (the de-cluttering) it's time to have fun designing and building the space that you want and need.  I can remember being on the ground floor of a new office space.  I got to imagine it from unfinished to finished project.  (I wish I could find those pictures of it).  I had very little room to work with (refer to my CREATIVE OFFICE SPACE blog) and so I became very familiar with the rooms dimensions and limitations.  I had very little floor space but lots of wall space.  I chose to build up the walls for storage.  
  • Ministry Application:   Know the specifications of your equipment (lights, sound, equipments and props--Everything in it's space-everything has it's place.)  Develop a space for them to reside and to stay out of the way. Unfortunately--this is my project right now.  We don't have a backstage area--so our Choir room has started to collect many of these things.  We're thinking about repurposing some of the storage in there to meet those needs.  Regardless, let your imagination soar and rise as you find ways to 
  • 6. Arrange & Display - Lowell leads you to strategically think about what you put back in the space.  Relationships to items (make them tell stories) are important.
  • Ministry Application:  This one may be a stretch for ministry--but I think I can say that whatever resources (visual, artistic, musically) you use, they must be purposefully utilized.  Just putting items on display in worship, or using music because it's available sometimes doesn't accomplish the purpose originally intended.   Just because you can use something doesn't mean you have to.  There have been many times that I've had dreams for resources and things; when we got down to use them, they just didn't add meaning and purpose to the project. Great ideas--just not the best way to communicate the message.  Do you know what I mean?
  • 7. Cease & Maintain   Simply put--quit keeping clutter!!!
  • Ministry Application:    This is one that I've learned over the years.  When I went to conferences, I kept every piece of music.  I kept every magazine.  I kept everything.  After a while I realized that this was a monster that was going to consume me.  So, now I read and glean, then I toss.  If it's worth keeping, its worth scanning into my computer, or cutting out and put in a file that I regularly purge.  The garbage has become my friend--it's only inches away from my desk and I am religious about throwing away catalogs and flyers and other junk that keeps coming in my inbox.   Maintaining is about be disciplined to keep these layers in mind when being organized for ministry.
There it is.. SEVEN LAYERS of WORSHIP (Space) DESIGN and WORSHIP (Ministry) ORGANIZATION.    It's interesting to take thoughts and principles from other disciplines and apply them to something sometimes related and sometimes not.  It spurs on the creativity (How are these things alike?  How are they different?)


simple christfollower said...

I have so much "stuff" that I've accumulated from conferences that are out of date and simply put" useless garbage" that it's time to weed out the good from the bad and send it to the recyling bin.
In ministry I use to keep "broken" items, like mics, in hopes that they could be repaired. They are all gone now! I guess I have made some progress.

a kelly said...

I like the simple 2 word headings -- great inspiration for order.
Thanks! Great blog!