The next take on rewards in children’s church comes from another of my blogging friends Jonathan Cliff he is the children’s pastor of Trinity Church in Lubbock Texas.
He has a great sense of humor and I find it so refreshing to connect with other children’s pastors around United States who think along the same lines when it comes to kids ministry. It helps me not feel nuts. Any who he was kind enough to share his thoughts about “Bible Bucks” make sure you check out his blog.
Jonathan has this to say about “bible bucks”
When I arrived here in Lubbock we had a program in Elementary where kids collected these bucks for bringing bibles, obeying rules, not killing each other, etc…. Then once a month we would open the ‘Bible Buck Store’ for them to spend their bucks. However, only about 5% of our kids kept up with the bucks; so on the weeks that we did the store the volunteers would just pass out more than usual so everyone got a chance to buy something.
In Early Childhood they had the same system, but of course parents had to keep up with them. I know in my family they usually ended up in the floorboard of my car! Of course both areas had a ‘Christmas store’ in December where these kids could use their bucks to buy gifts for their dads and moms. I do believe it can be done right, i guess….
But I just abolished them. And there were some ANGRY parents. Seem these parents had the same program when they were kids, and I was robbing their kids of the tradition. 🙁 But hey, Sacred Cows make the best hamburgers, right?
Currently we have a ‘blessing box’ in our Early Childhood classrooms. These boxes have minimal candy, and a mostly cheap little toys and tattoos, and bouncy balls. I tried to train our teachers that not every kid in attendance gets something out of the blessing box. I setup a special immediate reward system for our teachers to use with kids that obey and show God’s love to others in the classroom. Our good teachers can tie that box into just about any bible lesson. Of course I’ve had a few parents get upset that their 5 year old doesn’t get his token piece of candy when it’s time to go, but when you just GIVE away prizes for nothing then they lose some meaning. (Disclaimer: all kids get snacks and play games, and get to make things in Early Childhood. It’s not like they do without.)
In Elementary I’ve had must more success by simply improving the presentation. For our 3rd service every small group leader has a bag of small candies that they use in review-time during Small Group, but again it’s not given as a FREE thing. It’s gotta be earned. And in the 2nd service we use KIDMO, with the winning team all winning something to take home. We’ve gotten creative with this, giving away things the kids have asked for.
My standard response to parents now that complain about not having the Bible Bucks is that we want to reward good behavior immediately, and we’ve filled their day with enough exciting, attention-getting activities that we don’t need Bible Bucks to keep their attention.