3 Things Trader Joe’s Can Teach Us About Kids Min

Kids Ministry

I have a good friend who works at Trader Joe’s and is also the highest capacity volunteer in our church’s Kids Ministry.

We talk every week about how we’re doing as a ministry and how we can do Kids Ministry better.

And he often brings insights from his job at Trader Joe’s.

If you’ve never heard of Trader Joe’s, they are a grocery chain best known for the excellent experience they give their customers.

When new Trader Joe’s location go up, so do the real estate values around it (check out the article here: http://time.com/money/3994237/trader-joes-whole-foods-home-values/).

My friend told me that Trader Joe’s gets letters from people every year begging them to build new closer locations.

And from what my friend shares about Trader Joe’s, I’m not surprised.

Here’s 3 things Trader Joe’s does that we as Kids Ministry leaders can learn from.

1. They care about giving people a personal experience

A lot of my friend’s stories begin with: “So a customer asked me where something was and when I walked them over to the product…” or “One of our regulars was asking about…”

Those 2 statements show how much Trader Joe’s cares about people’s experiences.

If you’ve ever been to Walmart, and asked an employee where something was, you’ve probably either gotten an “I don’t know,” or someone pointing in a vague direction.

And I can guarantee that Walmart employees don’t know who their “regulars” are.

How does that translate to Kids Ministry?

Do your volunteers personally walk new families where they need to go or do they merely point in the general direction?

If you’re a bigger church and you brought all your greeters together on a given Sunday, would they be able to name every kid and parent who was a regular?

In your digital communication do you include parents’ names?

Do you personally follow-up with the parents of first-time families by email or text?

Are your volunteers praying every Sunday for each kid by name?

2. They go the extra mile

Here’s 2 examples my friends has shared with my from Trader Joes.

In the first example, a customer wanted chapstick, but they only had 3 packs, so the person asked my friend if they sold any chapstick individually.

In response, my friend walked over to the chapstick packs, broke one open, handed the person just 1 chapstick, and told them they didn’t need to worry about paying for it.

In the second example, Trader Joe’s had discontinued 1 of their chocolate bar flavors.

A regular customer asked when it would be back in stock, and the manager told the person that they no longer carried it.

Then he reached over, pulled a bar of each chocolate flavor they carried, and handed it to the customer, saying, “Take these home free of charge, and decide which you like best, and next time you can get that one.”

What does that look like in Kids Ministry?

When a new family visits, do you have a parent appreciation gift? Do you do anything for the kids to give them an extra special experience on their first visit?

When you’re teaching the kids and parents in your ministry to invite others to church, are you challenging them to make extra mile generosity a part of that invite? (Learn more about how we do this here: How to do Family Outreach Every Month without Burning Out or Breaking the Bank)

3. They invest in culture

My friend told me that Trader Joe’s requires employees to fill out an evaluation of Trader Joe’s every month.

They also share stories and letters from customers that reinforce the culture they want to sustain.

You vision is vital.

Your mission is super important.

But without an investment in culture, the best vision and the best mission will fall flat.

People don’t naturally give a personal experience or go the extra mile, just walk around Walmart for a while.

Trader Joe’s is intentional about creating a culture where their employees go above and beyond for customers.

Culture is replicated whether you’re the one creating it or not.

So if you want things to be done a certain way, or your volunteers to have a certain way of thinking, you have to be intentional.

What does that mean for Kids Ministry?

First, you need to figure out what you want to be universal in the thinking of every volunteer no matter what position they’re in and share it with everyone.

Next you need to cast a compelling why. Why is it so important everyone thinks a certain way and acts accordingly?

Then you need to define in very measurable ways what the what looks like.

Finally, you need to celebrate things that reinforce the what and why.

Here’s an example from the church where I serve:

We want every volunteer to give each family a personal experience and inspire kids to initiate a spiritual conversations with their parents during the week.

Why is this important? We believe that everybody wants to be known and that when kids have spiritual conversations with their parents, the greatest faith formation happens.

What does this look like for a Small Group Leader? 1) Small Group leaders greet each child in their small group by name and ask the parents how their week was, 2) Small Group leaders pray for each child by name before their Small Group starts, 3) In Small Group, the leader encourages the kids to talk to their parents about any questions they have from today, 4) At checkout, the Small Group leader gives each child a question to ask their parents on the way home.

Celebrate: (In a text to every volunteer on Monday) “Sarah’s mom shared that Sarah and her had a really awesome conversation about perseverance on their way home from church last week. Thanks for all you do to point kids to their parents; this wouldn’t have happened without you!”

Are there any companies you’ve learned from in Kid’s Ministry? Let me know in the comments below.

And if this was helpful, I’d love for you to share it using 1 of the buttons below!

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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