This year our church neglected to hold a traditional VBS program and instead elected to band together to hold "Backyard Bible Clubs" throughout our neighborhoods. Many of you probably already know about this whole discussion, so I won't bore you with the details - just simply some info on how the first two days of the week have gone.
Day 1: At the very minimum, I think I can say that our expectations were met. We had a total of about 38 kids (some people might think this number low, but bear in mind that our VBS programs the last few years have been about 50 kids - so far, we're only 12 behind average). The leaders were all well-prepared and, I think, excited to get to the challenge of evangelism. My job for ByBC is basically to be a gopher and provide any last minute materials that might be needed or required at a specific club. I'm also the photographer and materials coordinator, and...well.
The first day brought some spiritual excitement: a young girl at one of the clubs listened very intently to the Bible lesson that was presented and was drinking in every word. At the end of the lesson she asked, "What about people who believe other religions? They'll go to God too, right?" I thought the leader who was talking to her reacted to the question masterfully by answering, "God is calling ALL people, from every religion." That's kidspeak for "No." The leader went on to explain that there is only one way to God, etc.
Another significant event occurred when a young boy said that he would like to read about the things he was learning in the Bible for himself, but admitted that he didn't own a Bible. We were able to provide him with one. May God bless his word in that kid's life, and may he be planted along a river and may his roots go deep (Psalm 1).
Day 2: This day saw a slight dip in numbers, as we were only at about 35 kids. At the end of this day, we closed down one of our clubs because there was only one kid attending. We're going to toss her in with another club, and split the leaders up to wherever they'd like to serve.
So far I have been very encouraged by this ministry. It definitely doesn't have the flash of a traditional VBS program, but I think it does much more spiritually. I think VBS programs have been commonly acknowledged by people in the neighborhood as free baby sitting for 3 hours a day for a week. People see it as a way to dump their kids and get some yard work done. This is NOT the purpose of VBS, but nevertheless, it happens (which perhaps should inspire us to examine the effectiveness of VBS programs, and perhaps - gasp! - the possibility that they are no longer "relevant" [I can't believe I just used that word] in today's Christian ministry world - heresy, I know).
One thing that excites me about the Backyard Bible Club program is that it really makes the kids who invite their friends to attend stand out as bold believers. Make no mistake, the material we're using for the club is no holds barred, and very straightforward (one of today's activities included making a chalk outline of each kid and having them write their names within the silhouette and also the words "I am a sinner"). The fact that "host kids" are inviting their friends to learn about Jesus at their HOUSE, in my book, speaks volumes. Those kids' friends will forever know them as believing kids who will stand up for their faith. The lines will be drawn in relationships (this especially excites me as my two nieces are part of a host home, and have invited several of their friends - my sister put it well when she said that her daughters are becoming "mini-evangelists" by hosting a Backyard Bible Club.
The end of the week is going to be a lot of fun. We're concluding the clubs with a big carnival held at the church (Riverview). We're renting a moon walk, and a bungee run, which are both a lot of fun for kids. Plus we'll have a bunch of other games that pertain to that particular day's lesson. It should be fun.
I've been praying that God will do something mighty with what we're doing this week. I pray that someday these kids will look back at this week in remembrance of when they repented and believed. May it be so.