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?