Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Put Your Summer Children's Ministry into Full Gear with Group VBS

Even though it is nearing the end of February, we know Summer will be here before we know it, so it is time to think about what our Summer Children's Ministry will look like. I have been writing about Group's VBS resources for a few days, but today I want to ask you, how do you plan to use your VBS? 

  • Are you planning a traditional week in the summer VBS?
  • Are you planning to use your VBS on Sundays in the Summer?
  • Do you have plans for a day-camp setting to use your VBS resources?
  • Will you use your VBS for a mission trip resource?
  • Are you going to use your VBS for family fun days throughout the Summer?
  • Will you save your VBS  - and use it or reuse them - throughout the year during your Mid-week ministry?
Which of these - or how many of these - settings will you use your VBS resources this year?

Do you continue with your children's Sunday school throughout the summer? Do you "take a month - or more - off"? Do you shut it down completely in the Summer? What do Sundays look like at your church in the Summer?

As you think about Sundays in the Summer and the Children's Ministry in your church, think about using Group Publishing VBS resources. They add a great excitement, and allow you to focus upon a theme for the Summer - great for when children are gone to grandma's or camp or on vacation, as they are still on the same theme when they return. They are also easy to run - a Group VBS kit gives you the resources you need - plus whatever student materials you decide to use.

My 2024 VBS reviews are available for Group's SCUBA and Hometown Nazareth - I will be posting my review for Outback Rock tomorrow - and so as you read them through, think and pray about how they might look at your church for VBS, on Wednesdays, or on Sundays throughout the Summer! Consider the following possibilities . . . 
  • When you evaluate Vacation Bible School curriculum, be sure to think about how VBS resources might give you the tools you need for your mid-week ministry to children! You could reuse the kit you used for VBS, or use Group's other VBS kits and expand the lessons by using each lesson for two weeks and you will find you have enough resources for ten weeks! Run your mid-week ministry similar to your VBS and the enthusiasm you have with your VBS will transfer to your mid-week ministry!
  • Three VBS kit resources will give you enough materials for one year of mid-week ministry, so think about the curriculum scope and your vision/goals for your mid-week ministry then see which VBS resources give you the tools you need. For example, most mid-week ministries have a strong evangelism focus as children from the community may attend, so look for resources which give you the opportunity to introduce children to Jesus! If you had a difficult time deciding between Group's kits for your actual VBS, this is a good place to use their other kits - we know they have a strong application focus for children who do already know Jesus as well, as we certainly want our mid-week ministry to help these children grow in their walk with Jesus!
  • Add in weekly "live-it" activities, a service project for your community and one or two mission projects children are able to work on throughout the year, and you will be ready to go!
  • Begin each evening with large group singing - add in some object lessons which relate to your theme and then have children rotate to three different stations - Bible adventures, games, and activities . . . like they do for VBS. Bring them back together for more singing and to reinforce the evening's point for an over-all focused and engaging evening where children will be able to understand their need for Jesus and then grow in their walk with Him!
  • Many, if not most, churches plan a mission trip for their teens during the summer. Some are quite the major undertaking - even on an international level - while others may be more locally based. My daughter and son went on mission trips each summer with their youth group - mostly to other areas of the country - but they also went on additional mission trips with groups like Reign Ministries (my son went to Nepal/Thailand, England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Island of Rhodes), Youth for Christ (my daughter went to Mexico) and ZJAM (my  daughter went to Costa Rica). I strongly believe in the value of teens being involved in summer mission trips big and small. 
  • When youth groups plan a mission trip, typically there is a component of their trip where the teens work with children . . . this is the ideal opportunity to re-use your VBS resources! If your church's VBS is before the mission trip, the teens can help with your VBS - great opportunity for them to prepare for their mission trip and more importantly, helps communicate to the teens how serving is not just something they do once a year on a mission trip, but is something they are able to do in their own church all year!
  • Engage the teens in your church - 16 and older - as small group leaders, station leaders and helpers for your VBS and then the teens will be able to take what they learned and experienced in their church's VBS and use it on their mission trip! They will be familiar with the resources you used and know what to expect . . . and your church will be able to get more out of the materials they invested in by re-using them on the mission trip! You can even have a mission project for your VBS where children gather supplies or resources for the teen's mission trip! Talk with your youth leaders and see if you can work together to involve the teens in your VBS this summer and provide them with some of the resources they need for their mission trip!
  • As for Back-yard Bible clubs; when you are selecting your VBS resources, look for an additional VBS with a very strong evangelism focus and then get the Bible lesson books, activities, music, and games for back-yard Bible clubs. (Hometown Nazareth and/or Outback Rock are wonderful for this!) Plan to hold these Back-yard Bible clubs in the back-yards of members of your church all over town all summer long . . . another excellent way to involve your youth group as teams of teens could teach these Back-yard Bible clubs. This gives you an opportunity to bring your church into your community and neighborhood and potentially bring your community and neighbors back to your church! Tara Schmidt from Bethlehem Baptist Church has excellent information on their website on how to plan a Back-yard Bible club. Take a look and consider if this might be an opportunity for your church to expand your Children's Ministry and take it into your community and neighborhoods this summer! If you have used your Group VBS materials for mission trips and/or back-yard Bible clubs, what is your best piece of advice for someone who is considering doing this with their VBS this year?
  • Consider using VBS resources for Summer Fun Days! Some churches plan a day-camp ministry each summer and others plan fun days - one or two days a week for three to five weeks throughout the summer where children experience learning God's Word in a focused and high-energy program. Group VBS resources are excellent tools to use for these settings as they give you an over-all theme and help you keep your focus. You can use the Bible lessons to engage the children and help them understand God's gift of forgiveness and grace and how to walk with Him during the teaching portion of each "fun day". Obviously the "point" of fun days is not to just have activities, but rather to provide a different setting where children are able to learn God's Word and talk about how they can take it out the doors of the church and live it in their every day lives!
  • However; "fun" is a part of "fun days" and this is where you can utilize the games, activities, and music in Group VBS resources or just some of them and then plan additional activities such as swimming, going to a ball game, or local water park, or other local attraction. Add in a mission/service project and you could develop an opportunity to intentionally engage the children in your church and community and expand your impact doing so! Be sure to think through all the safety issues for such an event and have sufficient staffing - and be certain to screen all your staff.
  • Summer Fun Days can be a way to re-engage older elementary children, particularly boys, who may think a traditional VBS is for little kids. Most people make their decisions for Jesus between the ages of 4 and 14, so the summer, when children are not in school, is the ideal opportunity to reach out to children and provide opportunities for them to learn of God's love for them, their need for Him, and how to respond to His gift of salvation. It is also the perfect time to engage children who know Jesus and help them better understand how to know and walk with Him!
More and more churches reduce and even eliminate their Children's Ministry during the summer . . . I'd like to encourage you to do the opposite! Put it into "full-gear" and take advantage of the fact children are out of school and in many cases are looking for something to do! Give them this "something" to do . . . Group VBS resources are excellent tools to help you do exactly this! VBS resources are great tools for your Children's Ministry and can be utilized in more ways than just the traditional week of VBS in the summer. As you evaluate kits this year, stop and think about if there is another part of your ministry where they would be a great "fit"!

As I've said before, Vacation Bible School resources are one of your best curriculum buys of the year! Group Publishing puts a lot of thought, prayer, and attention into determining which Bible events they will use, how to add creativity and imagination to the games, activities, and settings, and selecting the music which best reinforces the Bible events and points. I'd like to encourage you to get two or all three Group VBS resources and use them all - because if you have them, you will use them!

No comments:

Post a Comment