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. Usually I set an overall goal where my head gets shaved. That summer both me and another CP got his head shaved. It was classic.
2. Our VQ program has been evangelistic in nature. I would close off registration at 60-70% capacity. Then when the kids get there I encourage them to bring their friends. We equip them with the opportunity telling them that this is how they can see their friends come to Christ. Again, we highly urge them to bring their friends and neighbors who don’t go to church anywhere else. We then give away tons of prizes to those who bring friends. Every night we do give away tons of prizes randomly, but we usually have the big prize give-away at the pool party the Sunday night after VQ.
So, that is what I do. I have my own agenda. I want to see the unchurched come into our church and find Christ and hopefully find a church home. I also want to enable people doing amazing things around the world. I believe the kids would respond in a positive way regardless, but I do believe the incentives of the prizes and contest puts the kids over the top. The deal is that at my last VQ, we have around 1000 kids come. Only about 70 or so got prizes. Only two people got their head shaved. However, every kid had an amazing experience.
So, that’s what I’ve done. What about you?
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