The Challenge

My hubby and I shared a professor in Bible college. We took the class separately, but we were both impacted deeply by this wise man. 
He was in his late 50’s and a new father, again. He and his wife adopted a young boy, after their children were grown. He wove his parenting challenges into his weekly lessons and while he taught us how to study the Bible, he also taught us how to be parents.
He spoke of how modern day parents put too much emphasis on non-eternal issues. And while I agree, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with rewarding our kids for good grades, clean rooms and baseball championships, as long as we also reward them for memorizing scripture, being kind to their siblings and respectful to their teachers.
I’ll never forget the professor coming in one day and saying, “I told my 9 year old son that if he could memorize The Sermon on the Mount, I would buy him any bike he wants!”
Y’all, The Sermon on the Mount is LONG. Chapters and chapters of tiny verses in red.
At the end of the semester, we celebrated with him when he said he was going bike shopping after class.
In the car a few weeks ago, our kids were chatting with us and we ended up talking about the story of Jonah and the whale from the Old Testament. 
My son said, “I don’t know this story.”
I answered, “yes, you do…” and I tried to jog his memory.
“Mom, I’ve never heard that story. How could a man live inside a whale?”
My daughter piped in, “Haven’t you at least seen the movie?”
I looked at my hubby and he mentioned our college professor’s name and that’s when our idea was born.
The Challenge: We told our children if they read The Bible, they would be given a HUGE reward. My kids are two years apart, so we made the challenge within their capabilities. (My 9 year old is reading The New Testament in The Message Translation and my 7 year old is reading his entire Children’s Adventure Bible. Both kids have around 400 pages to read).
They have already read over 150 pages. Each.
Even though they both love reading, I know the big reward is not far from their minds. 
After each page is completed, they initial the corner. After a couple of chapters, they tell us what they learned.
I have to admit, I’ve had to crack open my Bible and try to answer some tough questions like “Mom, why did Saul kill himself?”
I love that my kids are hiding God’s Word in their hearts. I know many parents might disagree with our approach of rewarding our kids for such a task, but we are trying to parent with a positive approach. 
We don’t remind them, push them or coerce them to put their nose in The Book. We haven’t set a time limit either.
What do you think about it? Do you reward your kids? How?


Comments

  1. 1

    says

    LOVE this idea! It doesn't matter how God's Word gets in there…it's getting in there! So yeah–reward them! God loves giving gifts to us anyway!

    AWESOME.

  2. 3

    says

    Being rewarded is actually part of the real world- people get raises for doing right. I think it is just fine to reward your kids. I like the idea that they initial the pages and then discuss it a little bit in between. I bet it does challenge you too, it would me! I am going to keep this idea close for when my baby gets older!

  3. 6

    says

    YeS!!! I love it…yes, we rewarded our children for memorization…..LOTS of it and they were rewarded well. We had them memorize the Children's catechism as well as the Westminster shorter catechism…..jobs well done, and they got a large item they wanted. you go girl, and YOU GO KIDS!! Good for you!

    Suzanne

  4. 8

    says

    I think what your doing is an excellent idea. I think that maybe in my youth I would have really read and remembered the bible if I was going for a goal.
    And I think the goal is good because at some point in their life this knowledge will most likely be needed. I see nothing wrong with getting a reward.

  5. 9

    says

    I do love when I find that J has picked his Bible or his books from faith formation as his nightly reading. :)

    We reward as well. I'll never forget, my husband offered to buy our son a Lego NXT of he learned how to play the first part of Fur Elise on his keyboard. Just a few days later, we were shelling out over $250(!) for that reward. Our rewards are much smaller now. ;)

  6. 11

    says

    When I was 6, I bugged my dad to sign me up for an after-school aerobics program at my elementary school. My parents weren't big on after-school activities for young kids, and I don't think my dad wanted to have to pick me up after school.

    Anyway, he told me I could only join if I memorized the 23rd psalm. He said he didn't actually expect me to come down within an hour or two and recite the thing. But I did, and he had to sign me up. (I loved that aerobics class.)

    Anyway, the thing was, my dad was so proud that I had memorized the psalm, and I was called on to recite it before meals, at special prayer times and other times, so I never forgot it. It became clear to me that this psalm was valuable in and of itself, and knowing it has allowed God to put words into my heart many times. It has enriched my life.

    I don't think I would have memorized it without that reward, though!

  7. 14

    says

    When I was eight or nine, my mom made a deal with me: for every book (or two, if they were Epistles, lol) in the Bible that I read, she would buy me a book of my own choosing. Being a bookworm, I was very motivated to crack open that Bible! I still treasure many of the books I earned!

  8. 19

    says

    Great idea! We are doing the same thing with our two oldest sons and the youngest one we or the oldest son is reading to him.

    You can NEVER have the WORD in your heart too early, especially when they understand what they are reading or at least asking the questions.

    GREAT job Kristen!

  9. 21

    says

    I hope to blog about the details, but we are doing "Sundaes on Sunday". Our children have assigned Bible readings to get them through the Bible in a year. Each day they read it they check off a box. On Sunday afternoon, we have sundaes! How much reading they accomplished (without being reminded) equals parts of the sundae. The only way to get whipped cream and a cherry on top is to behave respectfully in church. Amazing how hard they will work for this! We're going to keep this up until the habit is well established, and then use the sundaes for some other habit…

  10. 22

    says

    I love that challenge! Thank you so much for sharing! I reward my kids but never thought of doing it for reading the Bible! PTL, He has put you in my path! :)

  11. 23

    says

    I think it's a fabulous way to accomplish getting them to read their Bibles. This way it becomes something they WANT to do, instead of something they HAVE to do. And why shouldn't you reward them for it? God 'rewards' us with blessings all the time – right?

  12. 25

    says

    I really like this idea! As an adult, I've never read all the way through the Bible. I started a study with some friends – it took us nearly a year, and we only got 1/2 way through the OT. But – I'm determined to finish the study (even if I do it on my own), and get through the NT as well. My son is about to outgrow the storybook Bible we read at night. I'll have to take a look at the Children's Adventure Bible.

  13. 26

    says

    Hi Kristin,

    I am a retired teacher who has been blessed with children that God had put into my life. Sometimes I wondered how much these beautiful little co-citizens of this world would take in . God spoke to my heart that the word of God is a living thing "piercing through bone and marrow". His word never returns void but is tucked in the spirit in that small place he has given all. I've been happy to see my students (and my children) grow and flourish but most of all I am blessed that a woman like me was able to sew the seeds and live to see the garden. That is the greatest reward. You are a wonderful mom. Great will be your reward.
    Be Blessed,
    Elise

  14. 27

    Anonymous says

    Their reward will be their initial gratification … but on through life, where things are sticky, they'll reap the true reward of recalling God's Word for help, comfort, guidance … whatever the need. Wonderful idea!

  15. 28

    says

    I think this is a great idea! My son is only 9 months old so I haven't done this yet, but I will. What a great way to get God's word in there heart and mind!

  16. 29

    says

    I LOVE THIS IDEA! I was a kid who was coerced and forced to do memorization and I've been lacks with my own kids because I didn't want them to dread it like I did. This is a great approach because it allows them to set the time and it's bringing out their curiosity. Thanks for sharing.

  17. 30

    says

    That is so wonderful! I admire them for taking it on. I had a plan to read through the Bible this year and well, haven't made it out of the NT yet…. Guess since the year is half way over I better get back to it!

  18. 33

    says

    So, inquiring minds want to know…what is the reward? My husband and I are reading through a series with our oldest (and only real reader) and are wondering what we'll do together when we're done.

  19. 34

    says

    My mother used to pay me small sums for each book I read in the summer, and it turned my hatred of reading into a love for reading.

    I wonder if their pretend play will turn into pretending to be in a whale or casting demons out of swine. YOu should have them act out one of the stories!

  20. 35

    says

    I love it! We do this for our boys my middle one though is best at it (sometimes he joggs my memory :)! I teach his Sunday school class and it amazes me every week. All these kids can retain so much information. I just LOVE watching them learn.

  21. 36

    says

    I think I'm going to use this idea too, if that's okay. :) We're trying to get the kids in the habit of "quiet time with God" but it's hard when they aren't really motivated. This will be perfect. Great idea!

  22. 38

    says

    Wonderful idea!! The world needs more of this. I decided this year to read the entire Bible. I was raised going to church and still do faithfully, but I've never read the entire Bible. I want to be able to tell my children that I did it to set an example for them. I will definatly keep this idea in my mind as they start learning to read.

  23. 39

    says

    Oh this is awesome!! We have been trying to figure out a way to get our kids into The Word!! Each time they make the attempt (on their own) they start in Genesis, and then hit all the "begots" and give up! :( We just had a conversation with them about setting them up on a reading plan that wont automatically fail, if they wish. But they didnt seem too enthused… remembering all the begots! LOL We read daily, and try to pass the story of the day onto the kids. Our 12 year old son, will say things like… i've never heard that story! Where is THAT?? That sounds cool!! So we tell him, and he races to his bedroom to read it!
    This is THE PERFECT answer to where we've been falling flat!! Thank you so much for sharing this!! And congratulations on your roaring success with your kids and getting God's their hearts!! You rock!!!

  24. 42

    says

    I have teenagers who are starting to loose (or have lost) their childlike belief and it is time for them to move from knowing information in their head to understanding and knowing God personally in their hearts.

    This is a big challenge for me, it was during my teenage years that I feel away and decided that my parents faith was not my faith, which caused years of heartache and bad decisions. I do not want that for my children, but I already am seeing the pull on their hearts over what society thinks is okay and what God says is good and right.

    I will try this sort of idea in my home and let God meet them just where they are! This doesn't need to be my battle alone, I will let the Holy Spirit speak to them through Gods Word Thanks for the super great tip!!

    Blessings, Christine

  25. 45

    C.Thompson says

    I think this is a great idea. My kiddos are a little smaller, but I do reward them for jobs well done and etc. Last night at VBS I was so super proud and excited when my 5yr old and my 3yr memorized and recited the Bible verse for the night. They were rewarded by the VBS teachers and the great thing was in the car they were still saying the verse on the way home.

  26. 46

    says

    I think it's fine to reward kids. For eternal things and non- eternal. Think of it this way… Are you rewarded for reading your Bible? Of course you are! Kids may not be able to understand the blessings that come from seeking God, but when they are older and have developed the discipline from such a young age, they will understand why it was so important to you! I love it!

    Oh – and my dad paid me to get grades. Not everyone agreed with that, but I sure did! :)

  27. 47

    Mrs. Querido says

    Incentive is an awesome motivator!

    My mom gave my sister and I the challenge of memorizing the books of the Bible when we were little. We got a $1 if we could recite them to her. (Back then, that was a lot of money! LOL)

    Good job on encouraging your kiddos to read the Word. I'm still trying to get mine to learn to read :) But they do love a bedtime story from the Bible :)

  28. 48

    says

    Kristen,

    I LOVE, love, love this idea. I'm going to copy you. Our kids just made the decision to be baptized recently, and our gift to them was new bibles.

    This post tugged at my heart. I
    know God is telling me something.

    Thank you, friend.
    Genny

  29. 49

    says

    I love this idea. So great! What a great way to make Bible reading fun, the way it should be. Way to reward what matters . .. just like God does. And way to create great discussions!

  30. 50

    says

    This touched me so!

    I don't think there is anything wrong with rewarding. Look at other things we reward them for, why not include reading the Bible?

    Besides, the rewards that come from what they/you are doing will be so much greater than anything you could possibly give them.

  31. 52

    says

    Thanks y'all. I feel so encouraged about this after reading your comments! I asked my kids and we decided to wait to tell y'all the REWARD until my kid's reach their goal. Don't worry, I'll let you know. It's good.

  32. 54

    says

    I love this idea so much! I have never been able to get through the whole Bible myself…maybe I'll try coming up with a reward for myself if I do it!

  33. 55

    says

    Life is all about rewards. My aunt is married and she and her husband each have a 12 year old daughter they brought into the marriage. My aunt told her step-daughter to figure out an art project for her birthday and they would have one. She never did it. My other cousin saw this, and when her birthday came around, you bet she picked out an art project. We were at her birthday party this last weekend and it was a blast, but her step-sister was super bummed!

  34. 56

    says

    When I was a kid I would "earn" my way to summer camp by memorizing scripture. What a great reminder. I need to use this for my children. They love to read but just like me, they do other things first and then run out of time. Maybe this would help them realize it is important to read God's Word first!

  35. 57

    says

    My kids are young so we haven't really started any type of reward system for individual effort yet. However, I've been reading a GREAT book about the parents' (NOT the church's!) responsibility to train our children in the Scripture…it's called Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham, Jr. He hassn't addressed rewards
    (so far), but he is adamant about the need for parents to discipline, train, catechize,and disciple their children in the faith if we expect them to carry it on to the next generation.

  36. 58

    says

    I guess I'm in the minority- I don't think that rewards are a good way to get kids to read the Bible. Here's what a Chick Moorman (a great speaker and writer about raising kids) has to say:

    "Paying kids to read or providing any other form of external motivation actually harms internal motivation. As external motivation increases, internal motivation erodes. The more a child is rewarded externally for doing something like reading, the greater the chance he or she will lose interest in the activity once the reward ends."

    You can read more about Chick Moorman at http://www.chickmoorman.com/ or at http://www.uncommon-parenting.com/

  37. 59

    says

    That's an awesome idea! I remember when I was younger, my dad offered me $50 if I could memorize the multiplication tables through 12. It was hard work, but I did it and I've never forgotten my sense of accomplishment. I think rewarding kids for completing tasks that are HUGE and sometimes difficult to complete is a great way to get them to learn AND to teach them that there are rewards when you persevere.

  38. 61

    says

    What a great idea! I really need to work with my kids on their scripture reading. My husband and I read together every night, but we really fall down on the "family scripture study"ing. Maybe we can get back into it and encourage them to read on their own.

    My almost 8 year old is getting his own good set of scriptures for his baptism at the end of the month. :-)

  39. 64

    says

    LOVE THIS! Why shouldn't we reward our kids? Doesn't God reward us? Doesn't He promise us good things if only we follow Him? I think this is a great idea!

  40. 65

    Anonymous says

    Hi, I stumbled across this entry and have to say that I really hesitate in rewarding children for something that I believe should be rewarding in itself. I once read a book about motivating teens in a church/youth program setting and it cited a study in which it compared churches that offered rewards for teen group attendance to churches that didn't. They found that the LEAST successful churches in getting teens to regularly take part in their programs and become enthusiastic followers of Christ were those churches that were bribing their teens with pizza parties and raffles and free prizes and such for attendance. What would happen is on those days where free stuff would be given away, attendance would soar, only to have almost nobody show up the following week. Kids were basically thinking "well, there's no pizza or prizes this week, so why should I go?" It was more or less becoming all about the material rewards. The MOST successful teen programs were those that kept the focus absolutely on the spiritual and personal and relational rewards gained from the programs themselves. They found that these successful programs all had in common offering their teens: Forgiveness, a place to belong and fit in, a listening ear, a place to make friends, and a place to make a difference and feel needed and important. Those programs that offered their teens these non-material things, basically just taking the time to listen and talk to the teens and get to know them personally, these were doing way better than those that were offering prizes to lure in their teens. I actually saw this theory in action when I worked for two different camps. One camp had a junior staff program in which the teens were all volunteers who came for a week of training, were mentored by college kids and made friends, and then came back to volunteer. Their volunteer weeks were given to them as privileges if they showed responsibility during training, and they did activities that were geared toward strengthening faith and leadership. The other camp had a junior staff program that was not volunteer. The high schooler's were paid something for their help, but not much. Like 50 bucks for a week. The camp figured that high schoolers wouldn't willingly give up a week of their summer unless they had a little extra motivation. They hardly had any participants. Kids saw the price tag and thought: "hmmm…they're paying me to do this…If I had to put a price on a week's worth of my time, it would probably be worth more than $50. Not worth it." Whereas the first camp's program was turning away teens last year. It had over 150 participants last summer alone. And all they offered their teens was the opportunity to grow spiritually and make a positive difference. This proved to be worth way more to teens than money. The second camp probably would have offered them spiritual growth and the opportunity to make a difference too, but they went about motivating their teens the wrong way.
    I know this is long but I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I don't go so far as to say material rewards will ruin your kids or make them read the bible for the wrong reasons for the rest of their life, I ultimately tend to try and exhaust all non-material rewards and try an internal motivation approach before considering material ones.

  41. 66

    Anonymous says

    p.s. I think what I WOULD do, before rushing out and buying my kid a bike upon the completion of their reading, is take the opportunity to stress to them that their biggest reward is, of course, eternal life. When they come demanding their reward, lead them with questions and discussion to realizing that they've already won their reward-heaven! You could do this in a number of creative and awesome ways. For instance, Take them on a late night picnic under the stars in an empty field somewhere where they can look up and see all of God's amazing splendor. Help them to see the vastness of the world, how big and awesome God is, and how incredible it is that God loves tiny little them :-) Discuss what they think they've learned from reading their Bible and what they think the biggest reward of reading the Bible is. Help lead them to understanding that the reward is learning more about the God who loves him and growing closer to Him. Tell them you are so proud of them for spending time reading about their God, share with them some rewards you yourself have gotten from reading the Bible, etc. Then, when they fully believe that their "only" reward is the special time spent with you on that picnic plus the rewards they have gotten from reading the Bible, and especially if they accept this reward as awesome and without whining about how they wanted something material, then you can surprise them with a material reward too. A present by their bed with a note-"I am so proud of you for spending time with your God reading his Word. I hope you will continue to do so the rest of your life. Love, mom." It would be an awesome "teachable moment."

    (Sorry! More long-windedness!)

  42. 67

    says

    Great idea! We pay our kids 2cents per page for books they COMPLETE. It pays well for a couple of them, not so good for others. The Bible though? That's worth the hundred bucks for sure. Definitely NOT just a couple cents a page!! I have been known to dangle a $5 or $10 in front of my teenagers when there is a book I want them to read… ;)

  43. 68

    says

    Reading is good, memorization is better. I've started a memory book with my kids whoe are 13 and 16. I wish I would have started years ago. My daughter just finished memorizing Hebrews chapter 11 and my son I Corinthians chapter 13. They quoted it at a family reunion we just had. To say it was awesome is to put it lightly. I was and am so grateful for them. (I use the word grateful when talking about my kids rather then proud) We have since moved on to some more topics to memorize and as they complete them I put them in a composition book for them to refer to and look over every now and again. I wish I had memorized more scripture when I was younger. It doesn't come as easily at my age as it does at theirs. Congrats on getting your kids into the word there is no better place to be.

  44. 69

    says

    i love this idea! i actually started it with my daughter who is almost ten. i am going to post about it on my blog -is it okay if i link to your post?

  45. 70

    says

    I absolutely love this idea!
    I have been reading your post for an hour now and I'm on my way to follow you so you'll be seeing me around. God bless you and yours!
    :)Lisa

  46. 71

    freefun0616 says

  47. 72

    says

    I LOVE this idea, I'll keep it in mind for when we're married and have children, and at the moment it would probably not be so bad to use it on myself either =) =)

    åslaug

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