This year, Westport Road Baptist Church in Louisville took a new approach to LifeWay’s “Game On” VBS theme. They “took it to the streets” by providing six backyard Bible club-style VBS events in neighborhoods throughout Louisville.
The neighborhoods included Westwood, Sycamore, Crosby Park, Hillcrest, Maples Park, Murray Hill and Portland. Events were held in public places such as the new Maples Park in Crestwood, Portland Promise Center in Portland, and even church member’s backyards.
“We’ve been really trying to break down walls,” Jeanne McClure, Westport Road’s children minister, explained. “Rather than have the ‘build it and they will come to you’ philosophy, our thought was ‘let’s take it to the streets.’”
In January, Pastor Chip Pendleton preached a sermon series on the topic, and that was part of the inspiration for this new model, McClure said.
Each site had a host, whose main goal was to make connections with parents and families. A director headed up a mission team of no fewer than five members plus volunteers headed up the other various facets of VBS.
One big plus to this model was the “ownership” that the volunteers and mission teams took. “People took greater ownership, feeling like part of a mission team, just like they would if they were going to Haiti or Malta or wherever,” McClure noticed. “It was a completely different sense from coming into the building and teaching in a traditional VBS setting.”
It even provided a great opportunity for general outreach within the communities. In the Crestwood area, the host was David Atcher, Westport Road’s minister of music and worship. Not only did his whole family, including children, get involved in passing out fliers and making connections, during the course of their visits they happened upon a Hispanic community. With the help of his bilingual wife and the pastor of Iglesia Baptista Gethsemane, connections were made into this community.
“For us to be able to go as a family, and for my kids to be able to experience what it’s like reaching out to people, and we really had a great time with that,” Atcher said. “It was a great experience getting out and even crossing some cultural and language boundaries.”
With the around 100 children that came and the 80 members who volunteered their time and energy, McClure said that all the feedback she received was good. “Everything that we heard from the mission teams involved was positive in terms of feeling like they connected with the children more, feeling like they connected with the families more. It felt more personal than doing it here in the building.
She said she would encourage any church to consider this model: “I would encourage them to do missions of any type. And this felt like going out and doing missions, reaching people where they are, rather than just those that are willing to come meet you in the building. There are some that are going to come meet you in their neighbor’s backyard that aren’t going to walk into the building.”
To hear more testimonies of how God worked throughout the week, visit buzzsprout.com/48677.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appeared in the Western Recorder, westernrecorder.org, news journal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Myriah Snyder is assistant editor for the Western Recorder.)