Outreach That Works

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The desks have been cleaned and the report cards handed out, but
there’s only one thing on every child’s mind — the sound of the
last bell that rings out loud and clear, “SUMMER IS HERE!”

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The anticipation has been building since Christmas break — kids’
dreams of big plans to fill their carefree summer days. Yet it’s
typically a matter of only a few days until parents hear those
dreaded words, “I’m bored.”

And how does the church respond? Some answer by placing a Summer
Vacation sign on their children’s ministries door. But when Jesus
said, “Let the little children come to me,” he didn’t mean only
when school was in session. Summer is when we can minister to kids
without the typical challenges and distractions that can be
overwhelming during the school year. To reach out to kids and
families in this ripe season, use these ideas that really
work.

Dream the Dream
A dream program will meet needs in your community. Do you have a
lot of families in need of child care? Are kids in your area on a
year-round schedule with only a few weeks off during the summer?
Does summertime bring a lot of new residents to your vacation
community? Ask questions that’ll help you focus on meeting the
needs of families in your community so your summer outreach
opportunities will be irresistible. Take into consideration things
such as climate, available space to house programs, and assurance
that programs can be adequately staffed.

Today’s kids and parents are savvy when it comes to quality
programming. Kids want to learn something new, meet friends, and
connect with adults who care about them. And parents want kids in a
safe environment that stimulates all the senses rather than those
only activated by video games. Combining these elements with a
ministry’s desire to share Jesus’ love with kids will help you
create a sure win this summer.

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Recast an Old Friend
For years, vacation Bible school has been the tried and
true summer program for churches. But for many children’s workers
who’ve been organizing VBS for years, it can begin to feel like the
same old thing each year. To put a fresh face on your vacation
Bible school program, try these ideas.

Use Different Terms. If you’ve begun to feel
that you’re only reaching churched kids when you promote vacation
Bible school, call the week something different. You may want to
advertise as a day camp or use only the theme as the program name,
and leave out the VBS.

Try a New Locale. Attending a program on a
church campus may cause some families to break out in hives. Help
them ease into your ministry by offering vacation Bible school at
an alternative site such as a school, park, or fairgrounds. Obtain
the proper permits to hold your program at the site, and survey the
site to get a handle on any facility needs and security issues.
Using an alternative location in the community is also a great way
to give your church a presence outside your church walls.

Take It on the Road. Reach out to areas that
may not have the resources to provide their community with a
vacation Bible school. Inquire with inner-city kids clubs to see if
your church can provide a VBS for neighborhood kids. Or if kids in
your community head to cabins for the summer, ask a resort if your
church can use its facilities to hold a program for vacationing
families.
     

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