A children’s church store may not be top priority for a busy kids’ pastor but if you struggle with discipline, it could be a good idea for your group. Running a children’s church store requires some planning and tracking but the results are worth the effort. Besides encouraging good behavior, a children’s church store promotes attendance, builds excitement and faith.
For clarity’s sake, I’m not referring to running a “professional” store, just a small store that allows kids to purchase items with special tokens or dollars. (There are plenty of experts out there that can help you set up a true-blue storefront.) You don’t have to run the store every week, or even every month. Many children’s church ministries offer their stores once a quarter, building up the excitement along the way. Use these tips to start a store in your kids’ church.
Don’t allow kids to work in the store. From my own experience, this leads to jealousy and loads of other bad situations. If I can’t run the store, my helpers or an adult volunteer does it.
Don’t give dollars along the way, kids always lose them. Write the amount down and give the dollars the day of the store opening. Don’t let kids take unspent dollars home, offer to put them back into their “account.”
Have a makeup store day only for kids who missed the monthly store. Only offer a makeup day once a month. If kids miss both the original and makeup day, they have to wait for the next store.
Explain and post how kids earn points or dollars. For example, I keep a poster up that spells out in black and white how kids can earn store credits. 3 points for bringing a Bible, 1 point for attendance and 5 points when you bring a friend. We also have other point possibilities like wearing polka dots on a specific day or reciting a memory verse.
Keep the store stocked with inspirational gifts but don’t go crazy. I find a smaller, but well-stocked inventory works best. I try to mix it up too. I like using a monthly store model with different special items added every few months.
Open the store at the end of the class so kids won’t have the opportunity to lose or break their goodies.
Post reminders about store days in the bulletin or kids’ church newsletter.
Decorate a table as a store area and put store items in bins or baskets. I keep all my store goodies in a large utility tote that I can carry back and forth to children’s church.
I toyed with the idea of adding items to the store that kids could purchase to boost the bottom line for some of our projects. I decided against that because I wanted to keep the item availability fair for everyone. I do occasionally offer things for sale like a kids’ church t-shirt but I never place them in the store — these are sold separately.
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog Encouragement for Christians.
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