You’ve got a point there!

Posted: August 9, 2010 in Batteries Not Included
Tags: , , , ,

I love point systems.  When I was young, I thrived on point systems.  See, I was one of those nerd perfectionists, and where there was a point system, I found a reason to live. I had something to wake up for in the morning. Point systems were a drug to me. I lived to see those charts with my perfect scores, whether it be for attendance, or test scores, or participation, whatever, you name it, I did it.

But I never stopped to think about how the other kids felt about point systems.  You know, the ones who joined the program late and would therefore never have a chance to get the full points. Or those who just don’t do as well on tests. Or those who would forget to bring their notebooks, thereby losing the 5 points for bringing their notebooks that day, or those who would forget to memorize the Bible verses, losing 10 points for that week.

Ah, yes, Bible verses. You guessed right – I’m talking about Sunday School. For as long as I can remember, point systems have been used to motivate kids to… I don’t know, be more spiritual? Or maybe be more greedy and self-centered? We’ve got a generation of youth who think that if they’ve attended every Sunday service, or if they’ve memorized a large portion of the Bible, or if they’ve brought their Bibles and notebooks to church every week, then they’ll go to heaven. We’ve sold to them the whole salvation-based-on-works scheme, and they’ve bought into it, hook, line and sinker. No wonder we’ve all got such a works-based mentality. “If I could just read the Bible more, and sin less, Jesus will love me more!” I call bullshlepp.

Point systems work well in school, because you do need to track a student’s performance.. although, I hear U.C. Santa Cruz’s pass/fail system works quite well, but that’s a topic for another day. But what is our goal in using the point system in Sunday School? Are we trying to bribe the students to behave well, so it looks like we’re running a successful program? Are we hoping that, in the competitive spirit, the kids would try to out-score each other, thereby spurring them on to love the Word of God more?

And what about the kids who don’t come regularly? They have spotty attendance, or, because church isn’t a big part of their lives yet, they forget to do the homework, to bring their notebooks or Bibles, and in turn, end up with less and less points, compared to their peers, falling behind with no hope of catching up. Oh yes, this is a terrific system to make these kids want to come back to church more. No?

  1. are there kids in sunday school who come irregularly?

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