June & July are truly Kingdom-Building months as churches reach into their local communities to sing a song, make a messy snack, share a bible adventure and a fresh word in a pair of flip flops and a baseball cap, all for the cause of Christ.
Just some thoughts . . . some I have shared before, but there’s more:
SHARE – one of the first things we teach little people is that Jesus likes it when we share. If you are a smaller church, call a larger church and ask what you can do to help. If you are a larger church, call a smaller church and ask what you can do to help. The children’s director at my home church does this exceptionally well. She invites smaller churches to coffee/tea gatherings in the Spring to begin encouraging smaller church directors with all the tips she has learned over the years. She also invites these folks to take a small part in the decorating at her church (150 paper kites with colorful tails) only to be blessed beyond measure with sets and props and extra resources to be picked up on the last day of her VBS. “Blessed to be a blessing.” What church can really store all this stuff year after year anyway?
SERVE – another one of those things we encourage of our own congregations. Ever consider serving in someone else’s VBS? It is a guarantee of getting fresh ideas and learning more about how to provide an excellent VBS in your own house when you serve in someone else’s. AND it blesses the socks off of a Director to have a section leader or crew leader who comes with experience and an enthusiasm he/she doesn’t have to provide. AND it let’s a director “PLAY,” which few get to do anymore because we are too busy being responsible for everything.
NETWORK – Use facebook/social media to find out when and where other churches are having their Vacation Bible Schools. Then begin making phone calls to find out what you can share, where you can visit, even where to go when you are blessed with 10 more kids than you had planned for and need memory buddies or tshirts or whatever. Then, be willing to make the drive to make it easier.
PASS IT ON – Last year we helped a church who just moved into a permanent building, presenting their first VBS to their community. They were blessed with leftover resources from a larger church, who will be passing their leftover resources (and those they didn’t use from the larger church) onto to us. After our week of VBS at the end of June, another church will pick up our goodies (and the leftover goodies from the other 2 churches) from our church to bring to their church to present their VBS 2 weeks later. Blessed to be a blessing.
INVITE – Invite the community to get involved. If you go to Stevi B’s or have a willing local pizza shoppe, they’ll give you certificates for your VBS attendees AND your helpers/leaders/teachers. Our local Steve B’s actually came to a church we are helping last year and asked if they could drop off some certificates. If you fill out a “donation request form” at your local Chik-Fil-A 2 weeks before your VBS, they will graciously give you these huge paper “VBS Graduation Certificates” for a free 6-piece nugget for your students. When we were talking with the manager, he told us that he was helping at his church’s VBS this week during the day and working at night: “I offered to serve in the snack area since I work in the food business.”
TRAIN HOW TO GIVE THE GOSPEL MESSAGE – This is the goal of VBS. We can have a great time and sing every song with motions, but if our goal isn’t to present the gospel to our little people, we just had summer camp and nothing else. There are lots of ways to equip your volunteers: wordless book, salvation candy, gospel bead bracelet, kids bible. If we do nothing else, we’d better get this down. We don’t save people, the Holy Spirit does, but if we don’t tell, they won’t know. Our faith is based on an historical event and kids don’t “just know” history. Any VBS worth it’s weight in the can will share the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the basis of our faith, on the 4th day/night and again on the 5th day/night. We must be intentional about equipping our volunteers and fellow believers in how to counsel and pray with a child, or we have missed the greatest opportunity to save a child from sin instead of out of it. Most people accept the gospel and Jesus before they turn 14. This is a window of opportunity we can not miss. Then be ready to follow it up with a letter to the parents of the kids who made decisions letting them know what they can do to continue helping their kid become a wholehearted, sold-out, devoted follower of Jesus – beginning discipleship.
Then celebrate! On the last night be sure to treat yourself to a small Banana Pudding milkshake because that’s how we roll for VBS in the south. And don’t go through the drive-through….wear your garb, sing the songs, and invite some of your VBS leaders…it’s better than a survey to evaluate “did we nail it?”