CHINO, Calif. The Small Biz Prayer Network, an outreach of CentrePoint Christian Fellowship, had decided it is time to get down to business and mentor the community's youngsters.
It will do so through its first ever Summertime Kids-n-Biz project.
This unique 13-week project will meet for one hour each Wednesday at 4 p.m. and is open to boys and girls in the third- to eighth-grade. There is no cost to participate.
Pastor Cedric Reynolds said the program seeks to give children a head start in life and in the world of business.
"With the news media highlighting the negative economy we want to show kids a positive alternative to going out and getting a regular job when they graduate from high school or college," Reynolds said. "Maybe after finishing this program they'll consider starting their own business."
Reynolds, who calls himself the Entrepreneurial Pastor, established the Small Biz Prayer Network more than a dozen years ago. This group of community business owners meets regularly for prayer and networking and many of them will serve as mentors and teachers for the Kids-n-Biz project.
During the first few weeks of the program the children will decide on a business they would like to start. Options include a delivery or cleaning service, tutoring younger children, walking dogs, selling cookies or popcorn, or staging a carnival. With the help of Pastor Reynolds and the other mentors, each child will then write their own business plan.
During the remainder of the summer the participants will hone their advertising, marketing and sales skills. Mentors will instruct the children on understanding the use of money, how to market effectively, what it takes to be a good sales person, the importance of customer service, adding value to their product or service, the responsibilities of being in business, and the importance of good record keeping.
The real fun begins during the third to fourth week of the program when Centre Point Christian Fellowship's parking lot will transform each Wednesday into an outside mall where the young entrepreneurs will staff their own mini-stores.
To provide incentives, certificates will be awarded for children demonstrating business skills such as punctuality, outstanding attitudes, and handling difficult customers. Significant monetary prizes, $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third, will be awarded at the completion of the program to the best child business in several grade categories.
A spiritual component
Although this ministry outreach is unique and quite different from traditional summer programs such as Vacation Bible School, it will be deeply infused with a spiritual component.
"We lace the Word of God into all of our teaching," Reynolds said. "We present Biblebased business principles on a level the kids can understand."
Such principles include "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and "walk by faith and not by sight" because, as Reynolds explained, "there's a lot of faith involved in starting a business." Other biblical teaching nuggets include "having the mind of Christ Jesus," and "counting the cost" of what we do with our lives.
Another important lesson the young people will receive is on giving. According to Reynolds, this includes tithing, but is much broader in scope.
"We want the kids to think about how they can give back to the community," the pastor said. "We want them to think about projects they can contribute to with the money they earn. Perhaps they will sponsor an orphan or a missionary. They can learn how to extend themselves into the world by giving to causes bigger than themselves."
Reynolds, who has pastored the CentrePoint Christian Fellowship since 1994, has a heart for business owners. An independent insurance agent himself, he enjoys spending time encouraging and praying for the self-employed and helping them move forward in their business.
Alex Giannetti, a regular member of Reynolds' Small Biz Prayer Network, immediately jumped on the mentor bandwagon when he learned about the program.
"It's a great idea," he said. "I can't think of anyone else who is doing anything like this to help kids. I coach soccer and basketball and know there are a lot of kids in the community who would love the opportunity to come and get some free mentoring. And, we then get the chance to reach out to the community in a non-threatening way."
Giannetti, who attends Mission Pointe church in Chino, said he is excited about the prospect of attracting children, families, and other business people through the program.
"We're going to reach all kinds of people," he said. "We can teach the kids some entrepreneurial skills and help them develop those skills while they learn about business. And we'll educate them in a manner that will sit well within the Christian worldview. We'll show them how to do things the right wayethically and with a certain moral viewpoint. It's a brilliant idea. There's no way I couldn't be a part of it."
Joy of work
Giannetti said he is more than content to be self-employed. He's combined his passion with his skill sets to come up with a successful mortgage business.
"When you do that it's no longer work," he said. "I want children to discover that there are resources available to them. When I was that age I never thought there was anything like this available. I want them to go away knowing that adults aren't just people with rules. I want them to learn that adults are there to help and that they have wisdom. I want them to get an understanding of the entrepreneurial spirit and learn the value of networking."
Reynolds is eager to get started.
"We want these kids to get excited about earning money," he said. "But we also want them to learn that 'it's not just about me.' We want them to realize that life is about others. Business is about serving others. It's about finding out what people's needs are and then finding a way to meet those needs."
For more information about the Summertime Kids-n-Biz program or to register your child contact Reynolds at (909) 591-7555 or visit www.kidznbiz.blogspot.com.