Monday, January 31, 2011

Outreach! Vacation Bible School . . . and more!

Okay, so after we consider refocusing our Sunday school to focus on being "outreach ready" what other thing are we probably already doing for "outreach"? Well, in many, if not most, churches in this country Vacation Bible School is the main, if not only, outreach of the church calendar year. This past month of January I've focused on VBS with curriculum reviews, side-by-side comparison charts, how to plan your VBS, train your volunteers and so much more; so it only seems appropriate to consider how VBS can be an effective part of your outreach on this last day of January.

I wrote earlier about developing your goal/vision for your VBS, but when you consider outreach it is absolutely another opportunity to consider this important component. Why are you planning and presenting a VBS? What do you want to see happen as a result of your VBS? Do you want to see children reached with the Good News of Jesus? Do you want to see Christian children remember and understand God's Word so they can take it out the doors of the church and live it in their everyday lives? Are you looking at your VBS as an opportunity to reach out to the community and show or remind the people of who you are and how you would love to make them a part of your church community? Do you have a plan in place to follow-up with the contacts your VBS brings? Do you have a plan for the next "step" after your VBS? What happens when these new people end up with a curiosity about who you are and decide to "check your church out"?

These are all very important questions to consider. VBS gives you the opportunity to reach out to and engage non-church families; be sure you are ready to "put your best foot forward" and use your VBS as a "stepping stone" to reach out to your community and show them you really do care! Don't allow your VBS to be your "end all" . . . when the week is over, your "outreach" is over until next year when you hold VBS again. Use it instead to launch your ministry and build on the contacts it brings you to really "reach out" to your community. For example, do you pay attention to the children who attend your VBS? Do you notice if a child arrives who may by hungry? It is possible there are tangible ways your church could show Jesus' love to that child and his family by opening your food pantry to them. Do you notice if a child arrives in tattered clothing or insufficient shoes? Again, this is another opportunity for you to reach out to this family in truly tangible ways. In John 13:34 Jesus said, "I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other." (NCV) Can the people in your community see you belong to Jesus by the way you show His love to them? Outreach gives you a way to tangibly do so . . . if you are paying attention . . . so pay attention!

Jesus wants us to reach out and show His love to others . . . to those in our communities and in the world. We can start our outreach by re-focusing those things we are already doing so they are intentional and effective at showing our vision, passion, plan and love for others!

Tomorrow we will look at yet another thing you are probably already doing which you could "re-focus" for more effective outreach and later this week we will look at special outreach events!

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