Tag Archives: Incentives

Freakonomics: Incentives (part 2)

Posted on 13. Oct, 2010 by .


So, yesterday I wrote about my Freakonomics movie experience and how it reminded me why I don’t like incentive based programs. Kids get left out because the same incentive doesn’t work for all kids. I was having lunch with my boss on Monday and he asked me a question about what I got out of it and it caused me to think about a different side of incentives. His questions caused me to think about incentives in my life. I recognized that even I don’t respond to the same incentives in every area of my life.

For instance, last year I lost over 30 pounds in 3 months. I’ve been a lazy bum and have gained some of it back, but it’s time for me to pick up the running and healthy eating routine again and I just haven’t been motivated. What I’ve learned is that in order for me to lose weight, there have to be three things present. Accountability, competition and some kind of prize. Without those things, I’m just not as motivated. It felt really great to fit in some clothes I wanted to wear, but that great feeling isn’t enough incentive for me. When it comes to doing a great job in ministry, I don’t need the same kind of incentives. I don’t really enve need someone telling me I’ve done a great job. I’ve got an internal drive that pushes me forward because I just care about it. Funny how that is, isn’t it.

I’ll be even more vulnerable right now. One of my biggest struggles in the last few years is sitting down to read my Bible every day. The desire is there but when left to my own, there’s a good chance that it’s not going to happen. Now I have lots of accountability in my life and as a group we’ve tried all kinds of things from calling each other, sending emails and texts to encourage each other to take the time.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Freakonomics: Incentives (part 1)

Posted on 12. Oct, 2010 by .


Last week I went to see the new documentary based on the book Freakonomics. This book is on my 2010 reading list, so I was excited to go and see it. I’ve only heard good reviews about the book. I really enjoyed the film and I’m sure it was not as great as the book. I may not get to reading it in 2010, but I still plan to read it at some point, especially around segments I saw in the film that I want to know more about.

So, I did go into this film with my “learning cap” on and there were a handful of great thoughts I walked away with.

The concept behind the book (and film) is motivation and incentives. Why people do things. One segment of the movie that spoke to me the most was an experiment they did in a public school to try to improve grades. In this High School, they gave $50 to every kid who had passing grades and entered them in a drawing for $500. It created quite a buzz. However, when the experiment was over, the kids who were consistently failing didn’t make any significant improvements. However, the kids who were on the fence tended to do well with the incentive. What they learned was that the same incentive doesn’t work with all people. They learned a lot, but didn’t really consider their incentive program as a successful venture.

As I thought about this for ministry, it confirmed some thoughts and feelings I have about incentives. I’m not going to lie, we all use a variety of incentives. From treats to games to music and decor, we’re using incentives and that in itself isn’t necessarily wrong. However, when we use one main incentive intended to apply to all kids, we’re making a mistake.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

My Beef with Bible Bucks: My exception to the rule

Posted on 19. Sep, 2008 by .


Yes, I think I’ve thoroughly covered my experiences (and opinions) on Bible Bucks programs. I sense that this is one of those “touchy” areas where many people have their strong opinions, and it seems that most people have very strong opinions on the matter. I think that’s great! All the more reason to hash stuff out, push the envelope and get some good ideas. As Jonathan said, Sacred Cows make good hamburgers.

There is one place though where I have done an incentive program. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite, I don’t know. Although we didn’t do this at Gateway this year and I don’t know if or when we’ll do one in the future, but I’ve always put incentives in place at our Venture Quest (VBS programs). We did this two ways. We had an offering contest and we gave away prized for kids who brought friends. I certainly had an agenda.

1. We were raising money for the work my friends Joel and Heidi are doing in Burkina Faso, West Africa. What they are doing is literally changing the landscape of a Muslim nation through Children’s Evangelism. As they continue to do their work, Burkina Faso my look completely different when the next generation becomes adults. So I do a boys vs. girls offering contest. I strongly urge the kids not to simply get money from mom and dad (although I’m sure many do). I encourage them to find ways to earn money, do extra chores or set up a lemonade stand, and many do. The last VQ I did this was my biggest yet. The kids raised over $6,000. I think the boys won. Do I give out a prize? No, just bragging rights. No really, I hype it up really big and the fact that the boys brought in more money seems to be enough.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

My Beef with Bible Bucks: How do I get rid of them?

Posted on 18. Sep, 2008 by .


Yesterday I talked about my thoughts on Bible Bucks incentive/award programs. This was all inspired by Sam’s posts here, here and here. Anyway, my experience has been only negative or neutral, so I’ve had the pesky little habit of getting rid of them at the churches where I’ve worked.

So, thinking about getting rid of your Bible Bucks system? It’s easier than you’d think. I’ve done it three times and I’ve had exactly the same experience every time.

First of all, your biggest reaction will not be from the kids, it will be from adults. In all honesty, the most noise I heard from were volunteers, not parents. Usually it’s been the “we’ve been doing this for 7 years” thing or “Why would we get rid of something the kids love so much?” reaction. The solution to this is just clear and honest communication. I’ll communicate to parents and volunteers something like this:

Although we’ve had success with the prize store over the last few years, we’re looking to makes some changes to see if we can provide an even better experience for our kids. Maintaining the prize store costs a large amount of money and requires a lot of our volunteer resources. We’re looking at ways to free up these resources and do something special and different that the kids aren’t expecting and will totally love (maybe give some examples like a big party bash with inflatables and games at the end of every series or an end of the school year lock-in that’s totally free).

Sometimes I’ll even be direct and say, “Did you know that we spent $5,000 on prizes last year? Essentially that was $5,000 on pencils, erasers and yo-yos.  Can you imagine how we could totally blow these kids away if we used $5,000 differently?”

I’ve never had a volunteer or parents argue with the simple truth.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

My Beef with Bible Bucks: Why do you do it?

Posted on 17. Sep, 2008 by .


This week my friend Sam Luce wrote about using Bible Bucks in Kids Church to motivate/reward children. Honestly, a lot of churches do it. Many programs actually have rewards built right into the fabric of it’s DNA. I’ve dismantled this type of program at three different churches (including Gateway where I’ve just landed). I’m not at all saying their wrong. For me it’s been a matter of personal preference. I just don’t like them. Not all the kids are inspired by it, it’s expensive, it can be a beast to manage and too often there are kids who feel left out on the day they get to go to the store (I know, that’s the day the leaders give out Bucks to everyone so that everyone has something to spend and those first time visitors can get at least the smallest prize).

Let me tell you , dismantling the Bible Bucks system is a little daunting. There aren’t people out there who “hate” it and are glad to see it go. The only people who’ve ever told me they were glad to see it go were the staff members who had to stock it and price everything. In fact, most of the kids LOVE it… but that doesn’t necessarily mean its the right thing either.

The question I have to ask is, “why are you doing it? Why is it a part of your program?

For many it is the thing kids are most excited about coming to church. It actually motivates them to come every week, learn their memory verse, bring their Bible and sometimes even bring a friend. However, are kids falling in love with Jesus and his word or are they in love with their Bible Bucks? Are they really connecting with their leaders and other peers or are they motivated simply to earn enough for the scooter in the prize store?… Read the rest

Continue Reading