With these 7 tips for snacks in ministry, you’ll welcome kids — and their tummies! Plus you’ll teach them great lessons!
To snack, or not to snack, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to serve up The sugar and sweets of outrageous fillers, Or to take arms against a sea of marshmallow crème, And by opposing end them: to diet, to sleep (perchance throughout my lesson) … Aye, there’s the rub.
Snacks are becoming a large hurdle in today’s ministry world. What are we supposed to do when it comes to snacks? Here are seven things to consider when thinking about sweet snacks and tasty treats in your ministry:
1. Don’t Ban. I know of more than a few ministries that have banned snacks and treats. If an activity involving food ever shows up in the lesson, they work around it. I see the good intention here (see my next point), but serving snacks is a great way to show radical hospitality.
2. Be Allergy Alert! One way NOT to show radical hospitality is serving kids snacks that will kill them. Food allergies impact 1 in every 10 to 13 kids in America. Yes, it’s easy just to ban snacks altogether…but what might it demonstrate to a family that your ministry takes the time to serve kids with allergies something they can enjoy. Better yet, give everyone the same allergen-free snack to help kids with allergies not feel different.
3. Communicate Clearly. When serving snacks, even when you think you know everyone’s allergies, post what you’ll be serving. In our Kids’ Travel Guide to the Beatitudes, we put a printable allergy alert sign that ministry leaders can copy and post at their doors so parents know what to expect before going inside.
4. Food for Thought. Give your snacks meaning. Find ways to incorporate snack time into your lessons. Don’t just hand a kid a cookie and milk and call it done; have them pretend the cookie is Naaman as he dips into the Jordan River. Need more inspiration? Here are three Bible-based snacks kids will eat up!
5. No Rewards. Besides snacks, another hot button issue in children’s ministry is the use of a reward system. Children’s Ministry Magazine has covered the issue multiple times from different angles (Ban the Rewards, What’s Wrong With Rewards, Token Ministry, Stickers & Candies & Stars-Oh My!). Even I covered the issue previously. The discussion always seems to bring in some great comments on both sides of the issue. Check out the discussions and decide for yourself if snacky rewards are a good fit for your ministry.
6. Healthy Helps. One of my favorite parts of my job as an editor of children’s ministry materials is testing out the snacks. Hey, someone has to do it! We happen to have some great cooks and foodies on our team and they have been providing some great, healthy alternatives to the sugary snacks of children’s ministry past. And…I can’t believe I’m saying this…they taste just as good, or even better. Next snack time, see what simple substitutions you can make to give kids a healthy snack…your parents will thank you!
7. For Kids, By Kids. Give kids the opportunity to serve their peers by letting them help out making and handing out the snacks. It’s a great way to build up their confidence and help them understand that they can make a difference in the ministry. It really gives kids ownership and helps them realize that this istheir ministry.
To snack or not to snack, that is the question…let us know your answer in the comment section below!