Ministry Monday: Bible Bucks, Cool Cash, and Incentives

Did you know that there is a very hot topic going on right now in Children’s Ministry? It is about the use of incentive programs at church. Now I know that I am about a week late and maybe a Bible Buck short on this topic (please forgive me) but I thought it is better to be late than never.

Kenny Conley wrote 3 posts about the subject: Post #1, Post #2, and Post #3.
Sam Luce wrote 4 posts including one from Jonathan Cliff and insights from Larry Shallenberger: Post #1, Post #2, Post #3, and Post #4

I told you I was late to the party. What do I think about the whole matter?

Yesterday at church we had our “IN Store” open. We open the store every third weekend of the month. If you miss the third weekend then you miss the store. If you forget to bring your “IN Cash” then you miss out. Sorry. What can you get or do at the “IN Store”? You can buy little trinkets to great prizes for you or give them away in our program called “IN Return”.

How does these programs of “IN Cash”, “IN Store”, and “IN Return” work? Basically you get “IN Cash” for coming, participating, and knowing last week’s Bible verse. You save as long as you want and spend it at the “IN Store”. Hopefully we are teaching to give back and the kids give to the “IN Return” program. There is nothing really new or cutting edge about the system.

So why do it? Why have a program that some people consider bribery? Why do something that kids recite a Bible verse and forget 30 seconds later because they just wanted the cash? Why spend so much money on trinkets and prizes? Why use this to promote participation? Why do something that could be taken as money changers in the church? Why do a program where kids whine and complain about losing their reward? Why do something that could promote greed?

Why? The same reason I try and make the environment the best it can be in the hallways. The same reason I change my sets every 8 weeks on the stage. The same reason I strive for incredibly creative services. The same reason why I give volunteers gifts for volunteering.

If a child looks forward to coming to church for any reason whatsoever then God is going to do something incredible in his/her life. If it takes Bible Bucks, Cool Cash, or “IN Cash” for a kid to come hear that God loves them even though they don’t think their parents do or anybody else in the world loves them then sign me up for an incentive program. If in return they learn about stewardship, giving, grace, Bible verses, bringing friends, love, forgiveness, determination, friendship, and most importantly Jesus then my conscience is OK.

So that is where I come down. How about you?


8 Responses to Ministry Monday: Bible Bucks, Cool Cash, and Incentives

  1. J.C. at #

    the word of God does not come back void. I am not a believer in the “useless memorization of scripture”. I still remember verses from my Bible Drill.

    I truly believe we would all be better off if we memorized more scripture but, honestly we don’t have any incentive to do it….

    that’s my two cents.


  2. Kenny at #

    Ha! J.C. may be on to something. I really need to hide more scripture in my heart too. A few years ago I decided I would commit the book of Ephesians to memory. My senior pastor at the time did this with a group of leaders that he mentored and it sounded like a noble undertaking. My results? I memorized most of the first chapter. That was 4 years ago.

    Sad to say it, but the incentive of hiding God’s word in my heart so it could further change my heart was not enough motivation for me… just the honest truth. I don’t think Bible Bucks would motivate me either. $100? Maybe. What a hypocrite I am!


  3. JTapp at #

    It’s one of Mankiw’s 10 Principles of Economics — People respond to incentives.

    I remember being in a Sunday school class that did the same thing you’re describing, and that was 20 years ago.

    Our incentives as adults to memorize Scripture are many, just not easily quantifiable. Spiritual strength, wisdom, a way to fight against temptation, etc. Those are all good incentives, but not easily grasped by a 7-year old.

    I was paid $2 to memorize Psalm 23 when I was 8. I still remember that and how badly I wanted the $2. I still remember the Psalm.

  4. Anonymous at #

    DUDE!!! You’re role model is Chuck E Cheese and/or The RIO in Vegas!!! What WORKS has to be supressed by what you VALUE!!! We become slaves to deeply ironic necessities quickly if we don’t let our “tastes” and “values” rule our preferences!!!

  5. Anonymous at #

    Who just said “the word of God does not come back void”? REALLY!!! Read that verse again and just stop trying to make it dance over every sloppy bit of children’s ministry laziness you think up next!!!!

  6. Dustin Aagaard at #

    Matt, right on, we use “cool cash” to get kids to bring friends, pay attention, participate, etc. It works, I’m with you, willing to do whatever it takes to expose them to Jesus. Our goal to create encore experiences in hopes that as they keep coming back they continue to hear, see, and experience salvation. ps great site and keep doing what you do. Dustin

  7. Dustin Aagaard at #

    Dear “Anonymous”, thanks for your input in challenging us to think how we can make maximum impact within children’s ministry. It’s crucial that we do not become complacent or think we know it all. However, I must admit that I was frustrated with your comments. You come across as attacking and arrogant. You have to remember even if we disagree we are all on the same side and can’t afford division. We are Children’s Pastors trying to reach a desperate generation, which makes us a huge minority. I’ve only been doing this for 6 months and I’d don’t know it all. What I do know is that my role model is not Vegas or Chuck E Cheese, my model is Jesus Christ. My encouragement is for you to spend more time encouraging the body of Christ and less time slowing down those on the front lines. If you know ways that I can be more affective at reaching kids and families for Christ by all means let me know, I want that. Just try to bring some love to table with you as well. Thanks and I look forward to future times that we may be able to sharpen each other.

  8. Anonymous at #

    We have used “Bible Bucks” for the last two years. They have to solve the “Kid’s Quiz” question in our bulletin to get one (smaller children have to do a good deed during the week). Then they can use them at a Christmas in July auction or during the Christmas party in December to purchase gifts for themselves or to give away. They have learned a lot and so have I. They are a blessing!!!

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