For many congregations, July means Vacation Bible School. Most VBS schedules include music, snacks, activities and crafts themed around a certain Bible story, passage or character. Many churches include a missions component. They will introduce the children to a missionary or organization that meets a need in the name of Christ.
During VBS, you have the focused attention of not only the children attending but the volunteers of many different ages. This provides a great time to educate multiple ages at one time. Some churches highlight a different ministry or nonprofit each day. They have a representative from the ministry come and share their mission and vision as well as needs they may have. It is also a great time to share ways people can work with the ministry by meeting those needs.
Other churches invite a missionary or leader of a nonprofit to come and share a little each day about their ministry or organization. This approach allows the children to learn a bit more about the ministry. This works well for nonprofits that include multiple ministries and missionaries that come from different countries and/or cultures.
As with any presentation your audience is more likely to connect with the message and remember it when the presentation is creative and incorporates elements that appeal to the senses. So it can be very impactful when the presenters bring music and everyday items from their culture and country that might be different and unusual. You might even arrange to have a snack that is unique to that country or even that part of the country where that ministry is located. Videos, unusual clothing, toys and pictures are all tools helpful to drawing the audience in and helping them feel more connected to what is being shared.
Many VBS weeks involve a fundraiser or giving opportunity at the end of the week used to highlight the mission or ministry highlighted throughout the week. This can be done in a multitude of creative ways. You can have the boys compete against the girls by seeing who can bring the most change by the end of the week. At the end of the week many churches have a service and invite the parents to come see what their children have experienced and learned. During this time a bake sale or craft sale can be offered and the proceeds used to bless the mission or ministry of the week.
Many VBS have classes for elementary students but have their middle and high school students help as volunteers. Another approach though is to offer a class for these older students with the entire emphasis on missions. They can learn about a ministry each day and then spend a portion of the morning actually doing something in conjunction with that ministry. This could include serving at a soup kitchen, sorting cans at a food bank, building shelves for a clothing closet, making supply bags for the homeless, or doing yard work or repairs at an elderly citizen’s home.
Even a small group of students can make a big impact on your community in a week. And there is no way to measure the kind of lasting impact doing hands-on missions shoulder to shoulder with other students can make on your young people. Many older kids look forward to aging out of VBS, but this is a great way to keep your students looking forward to VBS each year all the way through graduation. VBS should not only educate and entertain your children but be used to influence your entire congregation. Using your missions emphasis creatively and effectively can create a stronger sense of community among your congregation as well as an increased support for VBS for years to come!