Retro Post: Should kids bring their Bible's to church.

*I did this post over two years ago, I never got much (actually got zero) feedback. I am interested to hear what the Kidmin community has to say.

I have been going over all our processes. One of them is how, why, when should we be giving rewards for certain behavior.

I have two pet peeves that will be finally put to rest.

1. We will NOT give kids extra points/bucks whatever for bringing a friend. (how do you think that first time guest feels, I would guess like a 5 foot trout, or 10 point buck.) [Update: we do give points when kids bring their friends what we do is weight the points so the person coming feels more special than the person who brought them.]

2. We will NOT be giving kids points/bucks for bringing their Bible. This may be a bit controversial but I believe that by rewarding kids for bringing their bibles but never using them teaches them to “look like” a Christian instead of acting like one.

I am going to send out a weekly bible reading plan. If they read all the verses at home they get extra points/bucks. [we have stuck with this and have seen great results]

I think that unfortunately powerpoint has made bringing your Bible to church a status symbol vs. a functional tool. The other thing that has affected group reading of the bible on the weekend is the rise of multiple translations.

I believe learning to read the Bible for yourself is the most import tool these kids need.

Tell me what you think? Should kids bring their bibles to church?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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30 thoughts on “Retro Post: Should kids bring their Bible's to church.

  1. Interesting post and still relevant today. My eyes were opened a while ago about the same thing. Why encourage kids (or adults) to bring Bibles to church if we don't use them. I didn't have the kids using their Bibles in children's church because the material I used (I'll leave it un-named) did not accommodate it because it was on the screen. When I used a different material where kids looking up verses was a part of the material, none of the kids had Bibles, because they had never needed them before!

    Different translations are an issue, but I still think that it is important for children to bring their Bibles (whether a "hardcopy", or on a smart phone or other device) so they can see that what we are teaching IS from the Bible.

    I do agree that rewards for bringing a Bible should not be offered if the Bible is not used and I do like the concept of giving the children a weekly reading plan. My question, is it a topical reading plan based on what was taught that week, of another plan like reading through the Bible in a year? Is there a thought connected to it, or just a plan to develop a habit of reading the Bible?

    "Commander Bill" http://www.commanderbill.net

    • We have a weekly reading plan based on the lesson. We give parents a monthly tool to teach their kids to read, memorize, study and apply verses that go along with our weekly lesson. We also provide bibles in our small groups for people who don't have one or didn't bring one.

    • By weight the points I mean. You get 400 points for bringing a friend the first time friend get 1000 points for coming the first time 1000 point for the second time. In my experience many churches flip those 2000 for the kid who brought a friend and 400 for the new friend. It leaves the new kid feeling tricked into coming. When you give the new kid more points they feel more honored and special like a guest should feel.

      • Do you know it leaves the new kid feeling tricked into coming? That's kinda my question. I haven't had any experience with the new kids feeling "tricked". I do think your right that we should give the new kids more points or bucks or whatever for coming but still reward the kid who brought them.

        Just curious on your statement about the kids feelings.

        Thanks

  2. We are a small church so we are able to have a classroom set of Bibles for small group time. We use the Bibles every week so each child is reading from the same translation. The only problem I have with kids bringing their own Bibles is a lot of parents either don't give their kids a Bible or let them use an old one of theirs or a Precious Moments one or something that is like KJV or something difficult for the kids to understand. I like the NLT and prefer to teach kids from that translation. I feel bad if kids bring their own Bibles and then I don't want them to read from it because they don't understand the translation. I want them to feel good about their Bible study time so we all read from the same matching Bibles. Our take home sheets include Bible study at home so they can use their own Bibles at home.

  3. Interesting thoughts. When I think about myself, I only bring my own Bible to church half of the time, or less. Our church throws up a lower-third of the verses we're going through, and has an extensive supply of "loaners", so it's not a necessity. How we access the Word is changing too; I know that I spend devotion time sometimes in my personal Bible, other times from my iPhone, and others still from my laptop. It's not as necessary to have a physical Bible with you than it was even 10 years ago.

    As it applies to kidmin, I agree with you totally: we can't encourage kids to look like a Christian without actually doing anything to grow them spiritually.

  4. Great post, Sam. I wonder if the question that you pose is akin to asking, "Should kids wear dress slacks to church on Sundays?"

    As Kids' Pastor and leaders, we are after heart change, not just behavior modification.

    If a kid is bringing his or her Bible to church as an reflection of their daily walk with Christ, I say more power to them. Anything less may be nothing more than window dressing.

    I love your daily Bible plan for the kids at Redeemer. Cool stuff.

  5. My question is "Do they use it?" Kids can bring their Bibles to church every week and still not know the truth it contains and especially not apply it! I think children's ministry can have a tendency of teaching kids what to do, what to look like, what being a "Christian" means traditionally and totally miss out on teaching kids about Jesus! Sure, it's important for kids to have their Bible, to follow along with their small group as they teach and learn Scripture but it is more important that kids understand that it's not just a book we carry to church because "we're supposed to." It's real, truth that's relevent to our lives today!

  6. We dont have kids bring their Bible, but quite a few of them do. We provide Bibles in our small group time and they are used every Sunday, even if its just to look up our verse of the month. I think it is WAY more important to teach kids how to use a Bible than to make sure they bring one from home to throw under a chair or in the corner on Sundays. And by providing the Bibles we minimize the different translations. Also, any child that comes into our program from pre-school gets a NIrV Bible (its the version we use) and when moving up into middle school they get a NLT – because its the version the youth use. Works well for us.

  7. We are a small church so we are able to have a classroom set of Bibles for small group time. We use the Bibles every week so each child is reading from the same translation. The only problem I have with kids bringing their own Bibles is a lot of parents either don't give their kids a Bible or let them use an old one of theirs or a Precious Moments one or something that is like KJV or something difficult for the kids to understand. I like the NLT and prefer to teach kids from that translation. I feel bad if kids bring their own Bibles and then I don't want them to read from it because they don't understand the translation. I want them to feel good about their Bible study time so we all read from the same matching Bibles. Our take home sheets include Bible study at home so they can use their own Bibles at home.

  8. Personally, I am a firm believer that, if we want kids to have God's Word in their hearts and in their heads, they need to have it in their hands. I believe that we should definitely encourage them to bring and use their Bibles to church… as we should encourage them to bring and use them elsewhere. It's true that we should never treat the Bible merely as an accessory; however, we also need to understand that we’re seeing a generation of Biblically illiterate children emerge. I personally believe this is because many well-intended parents and church leaders are afraid to come across legalistic… However, we need to show the Bible as being God’s word and essential for everyday life. Our job or the parent’s job: like it or not, MANY parents will take their cues from the church, so let’s model this value to the best of our abilities and encourage parents to as well.

    • What type of take home sheets do you offer the kids and if they are took home, completed and returned do they receive points for that also?

  9. Personally, I am a firm believer that, if we want kids to have God's Word in their hearts and in their heads, they need to have it in their hands. I believe that we should definitely encourage them to bring and use their Bibles to church… as we should encourage them to bring and use them elsewhere. It's true that we should never treat the Bible merely as an accessory; however, we also need to understand that we’re seeing a generation of Biblically illiterate children emerge. I personally believe this is because many well-intended parents and church leaders are afraid to come across legalistic… However, we need to show the Bible as being God’s word and essential for everyday life. Our job or the parent’s job: like it or not, MANY parents will take their cues from the church, so let’s model this value to the best of our abilities and encourage parents to as well.

  10. I have also struggled with this issue. We used to give points for kids just bringing their Bible. All this resulted in was kids bringing their Bible, showing it for points and then throwing it in the corner and then most of the time forgetting it.
    I decided to change this around a little. To get point for bringing their Bible now, they have to find last weeks memory verse, look it up and read/show it to me. This has been great becasue they are learning the books of the Bible and how to look find verses.

  11. great stuff Sam. We do give rewards for kids bringing their Bibles. Although we put the verse on the screen, we take a few minutes to help the kids that brought their Bibles find the verse and bookmark it. I don't think you should bother rewarding kids for bringing it if you never have them open it.

    In addition to paper Bibles, I have started giving points for electronic Bibles (ipods, kindles, etc etc) I read my Bible mostly on my iPhone and Kindle so I figured we should honor those versions in kids church.
    -Joe

  12. I've had some volunteers ask me if we could do a point system for kids bringing a friend and bringing their Bibles. And I've hesitated to implement it for all the reasons discussed here.

    I'm a preacher's kid that did everything she was supposed to do. I got points and gold stars for knowing the most Bible verses and bringing friends. I brought a tithe and my Bible every week. I was, naturally, at every service and anytime the church doors were open, so I got points for that. Etc Etc Etc. The list could go on for all of the Jesus points I received as a kid. Later, when I was a teenager and then into college, I really struggled with the "checklist of my faith." I became such a legalistic Christian, thinking I could never do enough to earn the Jesus points I "needed" as an adult. Through much grace, I've come to a sweet spot of a relationship with Jesus, but the main thing that trips my faith up from time to time is the checklist!

    I don't want to run a kid's ministry that produces legalistic Christians. I want to give kids a taste of God so that they desire a relationship with God and have the foundation of knowledge to look back on when they are in a trench later on.

    On the other hand, I've studied the benefits of positive reinforcement with kids and I don't think it is evil. Therefore, I have been torn on the issue. No matter what, I want for a child's leader to celebrate with a child any kind of milestone of faith. I think the key is to focus on celebration for a kid and not a checklist for approval.

    I could write a book about this. but i will spare you all. 🙂

    • Rebekah,

      Great points. I agree this is where the conflict in me really began. If we are not intentional about how and what we reward we will feed that inner pharisee in all of us. I think understanding and valuing the bible is what is most important. We need to be careful we are not teaching our kids how to look like a christian but paint a picture for them what authentic faith looks like. For me what you reward you reinforce. I think many of the things we reinforce are the things that we were rewarded for years ago.

      For me we need rethink everything constantly. Not just do things because that's how they have always been done.

  13. We did a big push about learning to use your Bible a little while back. We used a great Spy Guy video and saw a real surge in bringing them, but you’re right — we have to DO something with those Bibles for it to continue. Taking the time to help kids actually find the passage is tough, but needed. Before kids would bring their Bibles and leave them strewn all over the gym. Now, before lesson we always say “Grab your Bibles, we need them!” and then we use them.

    The question I have now is.. some kids (who have been given a Bible) still never bring it. Should we have classroom Bibles for these kids? Or only let true guests/visitors use those Bibles? We don’t want the Bible to see exclusive or “off limits”, but want to provide motivation to bring your own. Hmm… tough one, because even I forget sometimes and am grateful for the pew Bibles!

    Spy Guy Video Post: http://www.growingkidsministry.com/videos/video/

    • Lindsey,
      Thanks for all the great comments. We use pew bibles as well in our small group experiences. I think they are a huge help but I am a big believer in each kid having their own bible.