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Please don’t let this trophy happen to your child

Way to go, Kayli! Looks like you’re the 3rd best Bible bringer in your church! Doesn’t it feel awesome to be so much better than all but two of the other kids in your Sunday school class? And check out that trophy! That’s awesome. Of course, the best part is knowing that Jesus loves you more than all of the kids (except for the first and second place winners, of course).

So… are you a good Bible bringer? (Oh, and I repeat: please don’t let this trophy happen to your child.)



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Will Adair

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:16 am


Not getting it, what’s the big deal here? Its cheesy but kids love cheesy stuff. I think you are reading way to much into it with the “Jesus loves you more” line. Why not just give the benefit of the doubt that they are just teaching a kid to bring a Bible is a good thing. I use to attend churches where nobody was encouraged to bring a bible and the teaching, and that is using the word teaching very loosely, was sheer crap.

Oh, I am a good bible bringer. Generally decent at reading it too. Not that great at living it but hey I’m a huge work in progress.



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    Travis Paulding

    posted July 19, 2010 at 8:24 am


    Will, at first read I tend to agree with your sentiments but the more I thought about it, the more I changed my mind. I think this trophy represents so much of what is wrong with the Church today. Yes, we should encourage people to bring their Bible, but who cares if they don’t read it or care what is in it as well. Don’t encourage via, in your own words, “cheesy stuff” that just teaches religious ritual instead of a lifestyle. Why not encourage by spending time making the Bible come alive to the students (and adults) and make it clear how relevant it is to our lives? (I stress make it clear that it IS relevant as opposed to MAKE it relevant, which it already is.) When people realize how important the scripture is in their life you won’t have to worry about attendance trophies and I just don’t think the trophies are really a step in that process.



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      Will Adair

      posted July 20, 2010 at 11:48 am


      Travis, you are probably right. The trophy thing is kind of silly. Good distinction between the is and the make.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted July 19, 2010 at 8:27 am


    Will. I was using exaggeration to make a point. I don’t think “trophies” should be used to praise “Christian behavior.” However, I don’t really think the church is trying to suggest anything about God’s love.



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      Will Adair

      posted July 20, 2010 at 11:47 am


      Matt, Sorry that I read to much in to your statement. I agree trophies aren’t the best method. As we all know Pizza parties is the best method.



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PB

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:19 am


Just made me feel much better about refusing to keep track of Bibles in my VBS group.

Also: What I have found is that these kids either fit into 2 categories.
1. They are the best Bible leaver or bible Hider, had one girl stash hers on the back coat rack so she had it every night.
2. They have a competative streak and have to win everything.

Option 3. Would be that they have a tremendous love for God and cling to his Word (if you believe that the “Word of God” even means Bible) but I have never seen option 3.



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PB

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:24 am


I do tend to Agree with Will that it was probably nobody’s intention to teach children that God’s love is based on these type of trophies.

Sadly our intentions and our actual teaching don’t always match up.



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Mike

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:26 am


I can imagine a scenario that you seem to be implying: where giving kids these kinds of trophies can instill a spirituality that is founded on factual knowledge, leading to a sort of prideful Pharisaism. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. I get that.

But I can also imagine a scenario where some kids could feel really believed in spiritually and encouraged in their faith by receiving awards for their diligence in knowing God’s word. Was there a reason you assumed people would associate Jesus loving this girl more with her winning the trophy? Were you in a church that did that? Did someone hurt you that way?



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Jessica

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:29 am


@Will, because it conditions children in performance-based santification. Also, Jesus always commands us to do our good deeds in secret and not to put on a show about all of our religious “duties.” If children start receiving excessive praise from men because of your religious achievement then that might morph into a tendency to participate in religious activities just for the praise and admiration of people. Which is the exact opposite of what Christ told us to do.

Also, the psychological ramifications on the children is really surprising. When I was a child, I remember being humliated because I didn’t get a gold star because I didn’t read my Bible every day. So I lied (wrong I know, but I was seven and I wanted Jesus to like me) and then the teacher found out and took away my gold star in front of the class and lectured me for being a liar. That event has remained with me to this day nearly 18 years later.



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    Will Adair

    posted July 20, 2010 at 11:54 am


    Jessica,

    Your point on Jesus command is really worth reflecting on and I will be. I personally don’t advocate for the use of reward base for that type of stuff for the very reason you said. You get a gold star for being the first one of us to bring Jesus ethic in to the equation. Thanks.



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Carole Turner

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:30 am


I got in so much trouble from my Friends one time, all our kids went to the same Christian school and I dared to mock and make light of the bible reading/memorization contest they had. I told my daughter that stuff was stupid and NOT how God intended the bible to be treated. Needless to say, my daughter didn’t attend Christian school very long.



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MainlineMom

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:38 am


I think it’s funny/stupid. I sincerely doubt any kid would get the message that Jesus loves you more because you got a trophy like that, but I guess some kids grow up in messed up churches and do get that message. I don’t see any big problem with it, except that it’s stupid. I know I was pretty competitive at VBS with the memorizing verses thing. Having incentives to memorize scripture has certainly paid off for me, cuz it’s all up there in my head…somewhere. :)



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Dona Pugh

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:43 am


I’m with you on this one!! If this is representative of the kind of thinking we have in our churches, no wonder kids are checking out by the time they are in middle school! It is more than sad, it is frustrating to think that kids are getting the message that just showing up with your Bible gets you spiritual brownie points. Come on, church! Can’t we teach our kids to know our wonderful Savior in a more creative, and authentic way than this??



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Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:49 am


Yesterday, after we left to go to real live church for the first time in a month, I asked my husband if he brought a Bible. He said, “Pshhhh, I practically have it memorized it.”

We are chronic Bible forgetters. It’s really not that big of a deal considering the verses will be up on the big screen in our little, teeny, tiny Costa Rican church anyway. Now, if they started issuing fines to those without Bibles, and giving glittering tiarras to those with them, well…. that would be a different story. I would definitely bring my Bible, the biggest one I own! but I would still just read verses off the screen.



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    Jesse

    posted July 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm


    I don’t remember the last time I brought a Bible to a Sunday service. They put the verses on the screen, plus we have Bibles scattered around under the seats. It’s the proverbial carrying coals to Newcastle.

    When I taught 4th-5th grade Sunday School… yes, I did… I encouraged kids to bring Bibles. But this was because the extra ones stacked up in the classroom were almost all KJV, and I didn’t want to go there, especially if they were going to read aloud. If you’ve ever heard a 9-yr-old reading aloud from KJV, you understand. I did not give trophies, though. Gum is cheaper.



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Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:52 am


I’ve gotten into a bad habit of leaving annoyingly long comments on your blog. It’s like I’ve turned your blog into my mini-blog. I apologize. I’m gonna stop. Not the commenting…just the long commenting.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted July 19, 2010 at 9:01 am


    Whatever! I love your comments. They’re thoughtful and full of story. :)



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Emily M.

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:10 pm


Psh.

Trophies are incredibly impractical.

We got MEDALS for bringing our bibles.

That way we could wear them so EVERYONE could know we were the most excellent bible-bringers!



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cap'n

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm


Looks a bit like the (newer) mace that Samford University had made, carried in academic processions, that contains the Bible on a microchip embedded in a plasic orb. (Unreadable, but it’s the thought that counts.)



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Rob

posted July 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm


I wonder if they also give awards for most obedient and demonstrating the least ability to think anything you havent’ been told to think.



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