The essential list for your church supply closet

The essential list for your church supply closet

A well-stocked and organized church supply closet requires much more than extra copies of prayer books. Religious gatherings and structured worship are all about community, and one of the best ways to foster a strong sense of togetherness is to focus on hospitality.

Comfortable surroundings, a sense of belonging, and warm smiling welcoming faces are all components of hospitality.  If people don’t feel welcome, they won’t attend services.  This is detrimental to your organization’s efforts to draw new members, and neglecting hospitality concerns can ultimately result in losing even long-standing church-goers.

As important as greetings may be, there’s more to hospitality than smiles and handshakes. Being prepared to welcome members and visitors means anticipating and covering all of the potential supply needs for your group and its various activities. A well-organized supply closet should include:

  • Worship aids. Make sure you have sufficient copies of prayer and song books, liturgical calendars and community bulletins.  Reserve a dedicated storage area – or use a rolling book cart – for anything to be handed out.  Assign book distribution and collection to someone – it’s a great way to get a newer member involved in a simple ministry.
  • Candles, candle holders, and lighters (they always seem to go missing). There’s no way around it, religious candles are expensive, can get messy and are fragile.  Someone in the organization should be in charge of their ordering, care, storage and inventory. Soft, microfiber cloths are helpful in keeping candle holders clean.  Make sure to have a good flex-neck lighter, and a backup for when it runs out of fluid.
  • Icons and statues. Services and worship may include various items with specific meaning and reverence.  Having them clearly labeled and placed in the same area will make setup and proper storage easier.
  • Table dressings and liturgical garments. Certain days in the liturgical or worship calendar can require different colors and fabrics for robes and setting altars.  Post a guide next to the table linens and garments to avoid confusion and minimize delays during pre-worship setup.  Don’t forget to have a laundry bag and simple stain removers available in the closet – as laundering is often done off-premises and by volunteers.
  • Writing supplies and name tags. In group settings, people have many needs for pens and paper.  Simple legal pads, and a supply of pens will handle the needs of study groups and list-making.  Make your greeters more impactful by providing them with name tags – new visitors will be more at ease when they can put a name to a face.  Keep in mind that paper supplies can dwindle quickly, so make sure to check inventory often.
  • Batteries for PA system components, such as microphones. Determine what your battery needs are, and keep a good backup supply.  Don’t let your service be cut short because you forgot to stock up on 9-volts for the wireless mic!
  • Hospitality / coffee hour supplies. Providing a coffee hour meeting is a proven method to strengthen a church community.  It’s a way outside of services where members can socialize and can help blunt the edges of rigid formality.  Make a dedicated area for supplies, such as cups, coffee, tea, water, coffee maker, sweeteners, stirrers, and creamer.  Many churches build wonderful volunteer ministries out of coffee hour groups.
  • Cleaning supplies. Even if the area is serviced by a janitor, it’s likely that worship may happen when that person is not available.  Stocking simple, easy-to-use cleaning supplies such as disinfectant wipes, is necessary.  They can make easy work of germ-prone surfaces, like  chairs, tabletops, and handrails.  If you have solid surface flooring, also make sure the cleaning supplies includes safety warning signs for liquid spills and their cleanup.
  • First aid kit. This is an essential for any area where groups may meet. First aid  kids usually come preloaded with bandages, ointments, alcohol wipes, tweezers, and more. Kits are available in numerous sizes and can be wall-mounted in a dedicated spot.  Check the kit regularly to ensure you have sufficient bandages and that supplies are not expired.
  • Biohazard / blood spill kits. Accidents and incidents involving blood are rare, but when they do happen in situations like a place of worship, staff, volunteers and participants are often untrained in procedures for safe disposal.  This uncertainty can be compensated for with a readily available Blood Spill Kit, which contains everything necessary to protect individuals from possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
  • Tool kit. Again, oftentimes maintenance staff at a church work when members are not there, when services are not being held.  Easily tighten wobbly chairs and bang nail pops flush with a small kit of essential tools.  Add a flashlight for extra safety.

Lastly, keep an inventory clipboard or binder in the closet detailing all of these materials to ensure that your meeting or worship area is always ready and welcoming to your members and guests.   A properly stocked and organized church closet is an often overlooked but key ingredient in providing an optimal atmosphere for community worship, and positive experiences for your group.

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