JBQ: Balancing Competition and Discipleship

Strategies for a Successful JBQ Team

by Brian King/ March 27, 2017

As a child, one of my favorite programs was ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  The opening credits featured the iconic line, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” with video of a ski jumper wiping out.

JBQ is a competitive activity. It doesn’t take long to feel both thrill and agony. But like some stereotypical parents at youth activities, no doubt you have seen people take the competitive element too far. Conversely, maybe you have seen, as I have, teams or individuals that deemphasize competition to the point that they really are not learning the JBQ material. They use a lack of competitive excellence as an excuse for not studying and genuinely internalizing the teachings found in the Bible Fact-Pak.

So here’s the question: How do you balance the desire to win with the spirit of discipleship? Quite simply. It boils down to being aware of this tension and proactively choosing to address this reality. Through experience I’ve discovered these key principles that can aid someone walking this tightrope:

Incorporate a teaching time with JBQ practices.  We did not merely practice on the buzzer. We also taught lessons, drawing from the material we were learning. Some years I have used a theme for the entire season to emphasize Christian living and genuine expressions of faith. 

Develop “rules” for the JBQ’ers. I used instructions that were voiced over and over. The first rule was, “Do your best, and leave the rest to God.” We encouraged JBQ’ers to work hard, strive for excellence, but not get too caught up with results.

The second rule was about teamwork. We taught that for a team to do well, the kids must work together. Every person had his job, and it was expected that each person do his very best. I would pull out a scoresheet each year that demonstrated how one child had scored a perfect 160 in a match, but the team lost because all the other questions were answered by the other team!

The third rule was, “Be a winner.” In every match there is a winning team. But both teams can be winners. The aim is to create winning teams with a winning attitude. The final rule that was eventually added to this list was a paraphrase of the famous quote by Winston Churchill, “Never give up.” It is always too soon to quit.

Emphasize fellowship between teams. A helpful technique for me was to actively encourage our JBQ’ers to become friends with the other teams. One year with one of our rivals, we had the same number of boys and girls on each of our teams, so we created prayer partners. Then at meets, we would mix and match our teams at lunch. It was always gratifying to see our kids making friends with other teams, playing outside together even at Regionals and Nationals. Sandy Dangerfield has written an article called “JBQ Friends or Foes” that’s dedicated to this concept.

Teach JBQ questions and buzzing techniques. To encourage kids to learn the material and to excel in  on the buzzer, we encouraged all students to attend JBQ Regionals and Nationals. We set a standard and pointed to these events as a part of our JBQ ministry. The trips were packed with fun as well as striving for the best we could do as a team. We also strenuously pushed the JBQ Seal program. CLICK HERE to read an excellent article that explains the benefits of working toward the Seals.

The bottom line: It’s competition. Competition is part of what makes JBQ what it is. But this can be a potential pitfall. Being aware of the traps, and having a strategy to avoid these traps, makes JBQ something that every family should be a part of. Successfully balancing these opposing forces creates an awesome ministry that can help young believersand their families draw closer to Christ.