The Keurig in my office is running nonstop and I have a stick horse in my office. It can only mean one thing: it's VBS week. It's one of my favorite weeks of the year. I get to preach the Sunday before in a t-shirt, we see our volunteers step up in full force, our church campus is transformed into the theme, and we get the chance to welcome kids and families onto our campus.
Whatever your church does, whether it's VBS or a Sports Camp or Music Week or whatever during the summer, I think a healthy and fruitful ministry starts with you as the pastor. You can have an amazing children's ministry, but without the championing of the pastor, it's hard to succeed. Not every church or every pastor is able to be directly involved in the week. In a smaller church (like ours for example) you might need to jump in where you're needed. In a larger church, you may not need to be as directly involved, but you can still be the champion.
Show up - Your presence means you think this is important, and few things in the life cycle of a church are as important as the chance to connect with dozens of families who are in your community but not part of your church. You may not be the group leader for the preschoolers, but you have no idea what your presence holding a door open, greeting visitors, high-fiving kids, and being available for spiritual decisions will mean.
Use the pulpit - One thing we have as pastors is the pulpit, we have everyone's undivided attention for 30-45 minutes each Sunday. That is a sacred trust between a church, its pastor, and God. And with that comes the recognition that what you brag on and encourage will get people's attention. Recognize what's happening with VBS. Take time to pray in your service. Point out key volunteers and leaders who make it happen.
Be part of follow-up - We can have the most amazing program, the funniest skits, the best set design, and the most flawless execution of snack creation. But if we don't follow up with those who come, and especially with those who have a spiritual decision, we've missed the boat. Having visitors and guests on our campus, attending our activities, and filling out cards isn't the end. It's the beginning of a journey of discipleship, assimilation, and life transformation. Don't miss it pastor. Be involved.
Thank the volunteers - If your VBS is at night, some of your volunteers are trading a real dinner for fast food and leftover Teddy Grahams. If it's during the day, some are using vacation time from work to be there. Make sure you thank them. As awesome as your staff might be, and as supportive as you might be, VBS (and everything in the church) happens because of volunteers. Pro tip: Chick-Fil-A will do VBS certificates and volunteer appreciation cards. Nothing says "job well done" like Chicken Minis.
How have you as a pastor been involved in your church's VBS? How have you been its champion?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.