The offering portion of your VBS should undoubtedly be one of the most exciting times in your children’s program. Giving is essential to Christian ministry; it both blesses the ministry and the people who receive the ministering. Why shouldn’t it be joyful? Here’s what we do for taking up an offering at special kids’ events.
I run contests, usually it’s boys vs. girls or big kids vs little kids. The whole boy versus girl dynamic seems to work the best for us since we also play many wacky group games. We keep the competitiveness rolling with a daily, “Who’s got more points” announcements at our morning assemblies. Of course, we always give instructions about having a good attitude.
I explain the “prize” first. Before I get the contest started, I decide on what the prize will be. (I’ve heard of tales of a local youth pastor promising to swallow a goldfish for a record number of attendees at a youth conference, but I draw the line there!) Usually the contest involves something icky and fun like taking a whipped cream pie in the face or getting “slimed” the Sunday after the VBS during kids’ church. Fortunately, in our kids ministry, we have both male and female leaders; that’s perfect for those boys versus girls contests. None of the girls want to see me get pied! I look for grown up volunteers willing to participate in these contests.
I use an offering machine to make the contest fun. It’s basically a wooden machine that balances two, 5-galloon buckets at either end. As kids toss in their change, the buckets move up and down. The bucket that weighs the most wins or you can count the offering for an official winner. During the contest, we stop every few minutes to allow the bucket to move up and down. My guy volunteer and I take turns pleading for mercy, in a playful weigh.
I have a bank on hand for kids to swap dollars for coins. At one church outreach, we used painted washers. That was a lot easier than counting a ton of change. We dress up our bank/table to look like a real bank. Kids have a blast getting coins for the machine.
Don’t be shy when it comes to offering contests. Get kids and parents involved in supporting the VBS through special contests and incentives. One last note–keep the offering contest exciting by using upbeat praise music. I love seeing kids dance all the way to give to God!