Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Get More Out of Your VBS - Summer Sundays!

In this day and age where many, if not most, of us have definite budget "issues" to deal with, it is absolutely essential we do all we can to get the most out of the resources we purchase for use in our ministries. 

When I worked for Kregel Bookstores, each year there were churches which made the difficult choice to end their VBS due to budget issues. I acknowledge it costs money to have a VBS ministry, but want to encourage you to consider additional ways to "stretch" those VBS resources and use them in additional ways rather than eliminate your VBS ministry. When we are able to get "more" out of our VBS, we are not only being good stewards, but we are able to grow and expand our ministry as opposed to limiting and reducing it.

In the coming week, as I get ready to begin my 2016 VBS reviews, I'm going to give you ideas on ways to use your VBS - beyond the traditional week of VBS. Today let's think about using VBS for Summer Sundays! I'm sad each year to see more and more churches making the choice to stop their summer Sunday children's ministry. I know in many cases this is due to the difficulty of finding volunteers to staff summer ministry opportunities, but if we pray - and get our entire church to pray with us -  are honest, and creative God will send the laborers we need!

So, let's pray. Jesus told His disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." This is true today, as well, and certainly in regards to Children's Ministry! The harvest is plentiful! 85% of us made our decision to trust and follow Jesus between the ages of 4 and 14! Children's Ministry matters! The harvest is plentiful, so we need to be doing as Jesus said, and "ask" God to send the workers! Pray and involve your church in praying with you. Make it a priority.

This brings us to being honest. I've seen churches say - and even post on their websites - how their Children's Ministry is on "hiatus" for the summer. "Hiatus"? Let's be honest. This is just an "easy" way to say our Children's Ministry lacks vision, and people do not have the heart to volunteer. When involving your church in praying for your Children's Ministry, do the following 

Be honest! Consider the following -

  • Help the people understand the harvest is plentiful . . . be sure they are able to catch from you how important the Children's Ministry is. 
  • Share your vision for the Children's Ministry and how your summer ministry gives you so many opportunities to reach children! 
  • Be sure the Senior Pastor is "on-board" and is your greatest "cheerleader" . . . if he is, the people in your church will look at Children's Ministry differently and "catch" his enthusiasm!
Be creative! Consider the following -
  • Take the VBS resources you decide to use for the week of VBS and then for five Sundays after VBS, use them again. This allows you to get more out of the money you spent and gives you the opportunity to continue the learning, as you focus even more on the application of those Bible adventures! Most VBS materials have an abundance of games, crafts and activities - more than you will use in five days. Use these resources on Sundays then take the Bible events and present them again - be sure to do so as dramas and involve the children actively in the teaching of those Bible events. Since they will have just heard the events in VBS, they will be familiar with them - this can work to your benefit. Talk with the children about how they have been able to live the Bible adventures since VBS - be sure to be ready to tell them how you have done so as well!
  • Give your regular volunteers the summer off - this gives them a needed break and allows them to participate in adult Bible studies . . . they will return in the Fall with a sense of renewal! Recruit parents, college age young people and teens 16 and older to fill out your staffing needs and involve them the same ways as you do for VBS - some will lead in games, others in crafts, some will be small group leaders and others will lead in Bible events. This makes it easier and quite honestly - more fun - for these new volunteers!
  • Consider buying another VBS kit - or the director's book and station leader's books - and use it for the Summer! Use each Bible adventure twice, as mentioned above, and you will see how your Summer Sundays can be exciting and most importantly, effective!
The enthusiasm children experience for VBS will carry over to Sundays when you have VBS on Sunday mornings! Pray, be honest and creative and see if using VBS materials on Summer Sundays can be a great "fit" for your unique ministry this year!

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