Should You Use Incentives in Youth Ministry?

“ ‘If we break our attendance record, I’ll shave my head.’ ‘The person who brings the most friends to Bible study will win an Xbox.’ I’ve even seen youth ministers offer new iPhones to a lucky guest.” - TGC


I am old enough to remember when youth ministry shifted from youth training to youth entertainment. Since that time it seems that each successive generation has been less interested in church. If youth ministry were so effective, why hasn’t it been that effective- or am I missing something?

We’ve been giving out free vaping pens to the kids, and the place is thick with ‘em….well, they come long enough to get the vape, and we never see them again, and nobody’s learned a Bible verse yet…..but it’s popular!

Seriously, my take is that all too often, we train kids to be immature, and the parallel youth ministry more or less tells kids “you are welcome in youth group, at summer camp, really anywhere but…adult church.” A new (or old) paradigm is needed.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

“you are welcome in youth group, at summer camp, really anywhere but…adult church.”

We are a small church plant, but we are pushing back against this model. Instead of Wed night, we have Monday night. We do not have a separate youth group. Instead we have tables set up in a rectangle so we can all see each other and we encourage everyone to participate. A 14 year old sits next to one of his best friends who is in his 70’s. The 10 year old has just as much of a chance to ask or answer a question as the 60 year old. The kids love it and are learning and growing. Many are surprised how much our kids know about the scriptures. I attribute much of their knowledge to these Monday night Bible Studies. I am in no hurry to start a youth group, but I fear that too many expect it and we could end up losing people or not getting people to come to our church because we do not have one.