Kids—and some adults, expect children’s ministry leaders to offer some type of snack during their ministry time. What used to be an occasional treat or a tasty party extra is now practically a must-have in some children’s ministries. Of course most kids want snacks and treats—just ask them. But what about teachers? For many reasons, some teachers are bucking this “trend” in ministry and I can’t say that I entirely blame them. As a children’s ministry veteran, I can see both sides of this issue. Maybe some discussion on the subject will help us all decide what’s best for our churches and ministries. The question is: to treat or not to treat? I’ve collected some thoughts from various children’s leaders that I know.
Why Some Choose to Treat
- Kids are hungry. “We have a lot of ‘bus’ kids and I’m not sure some of these families feed kids before they send them to church. I feel compelled to provide them with something.” -Annette H.
- It fills in a time gap. “We always have time at the end of service and I don’t mind.”
- I like doing food crafts. “I like getting creative with snacks because I teach young kids. They love it.” -Rachel K.
- All the other teachers feed their kids. “I give kids treats because the other classes do. I’m not a fan but one of my parents complained that one kid got something and the other one didn’t.” -Jeremy R.
- It’s our fellowship time. “I actually like snack time because it’s the only time we get to really slow down and be with the kids. It’s kind of our fellowship time.” -Vita R.
Why Some Don’t Like Giving Treats
- People forget this is an extra. “I gave up on treats because none of the parents wanted to help and my kids acted terrible during snack time. I really just stopped doing it.” Rick H.
- Food shouldn’t be a reward. “I have personal issues with food so it kind of influenced me, I guess. I like rewarding the kids with stickers or bible bucks, not food. We have food at parties but any other time.” Becka D.
- It’s too time-consuming and/or expensive to buy treats every week. “Kids weren’t happy with cookies and juice boxes. They wanted nachos and cheese and the list goes on. I couldn’t spend my budget on food.” Liz Y.
- I have kids who have good allergies. “I’m nervous about giving kids food. Some of mine have food allergies so we don’t do treats.” Anna K.
- It’s too messy. “I’m short handed on volunteers and the mess after a snack is too much to handle. I don’t have a cleaning crew–just me!” Missy O.
So what’s the bottom line? If I were in a quandary over treating or not treating, I’d be looking at this list. Every ministry is different but these leaders made some pretty good points. Most of the time during my work in churches, I did provide snacks. The reason being because we did do a lot of outreach ministry and new families often visited, many of these were poor. It can get to you at times, feeling unappreciated but it’s good to remember the words of Christ, “If you have done this for the least of these, you have done it unto me.” If you do decide to quit serving treats, it might be a good idea to talk to other teachers. This kind of policy works best when everyone is on board.