Tag Archives: Spiritual Gifts

The Value of Vacation Bible School

It’s that time of year where Vacation Bible School is in full swing.  Maybe your church is thinking about hosting one…or you just need some encouragement to pull through another year.  Here is are some values that Vacation Bible School (VBS) can bring to your ministry…

Team Effort. Vacation Bible School is a total team effort, especially if you are in a smaller church. All of sudden, when you place that banner in your front lawn and offer 2-3 hours of child care, snacks, & fun for children…they will come. And BOOM, the children you have there is 3, 4, 5 times the size of your normal Sunday of children. You know what this means…all hands on deck. You need class leaders, teachers, snack-makers, decoration help…and the list goes on. It is a team effort by your church.

Community-Driven. Open up those doors for kids to come in. Provide ways to help parents, like providing meals for families prior or after VBS. Promote the event in your local newspaper and with banners and on your church sign. Be clear that the event is free and for the community. Let your community know this is not an exclusive club, but a week-long event for our neighbors kids to have fun and learn about Jesus.5258580_orig

Kids Meet Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, don’t weaken the sauce during this week. Make sure you have a dedicated Bible teaching time for the kids. Snacks, games, and crafts are all dynamite ideas, but do not neglect the Bible study and teaching. Build up to this…provide experienced teachers…give the teachers all the materials early for proper study time. Make this a priority, and tell your volunteers to make sure this time is focused and special.

Baby Steps. VBS is a great opportunity for new members or new teenagers to gain ministry experience before your school year schedule ramps up. Rather than put someone’s name down for a year of serving in children’s ministry, this could be an opportunity for a new person to see where they fit, their gift set, and if children’s ministry may be a place they can serve. (*Make sure to do background checks for your incoming children workers).

Fun. VBS should be synonymous with fun. Bring up the energy. Get your church excited about this week with early promotion and hype. Seeing kids sing and learn about Jesus…doesn’t get much better than that. Your joy and fun levels should be at an all-time high!

 

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Mission Trip Responsibility List

misionesAs mentioned in previous blog posts, it is important to give the students responsibility on this trip, and raise the bar of expectations.  After all, it is called a STUDENT mission trip, not a Youth-Pastor-Led Mission Trip or a My-Parents-Made-Me-Go Trip.  It can be done a number of ways, but one easy way is to give a spiritual gift inventory, then use the results to give student responsibilities that fit their God-given gifts and responsibilities.  Before I give you list, keep in mind a couple of things:  Don’t underestimate these students, Don’t be afraid to let them fail (but not fall completely), and put them in charge of something.  Give them ownership…and here are some ways you can do that…here some examples of trip responsibilities:

Communicator/Trip Administrator: Keep the team current on what is needed at the meetings, keep the church updated on the progress of the team, and maintain home contact during the trip. (That was my job.)

Work Coordinators: Make sure all the stuff gets done in order for us to live. Organize efforts for bag lunches, clean-up, and make sure we have everything we need before going to a ministry site and again when leaving.

Team Encouragers: Make sure we “do everything without grumbling or complaining” and be available to team members when needed. Let them know they are appreciated and valued. Guard the morale of the team.

Communication Assistants: Assist adult leaders by leading tasks and communicating for them as asked.

Ministry Coordinators: Make sure presentation and programs are planned and executed in an orderly and excellent fashion.

Photographers/Videographers: Record images that capture the spirit of the team, the people, the culture and the sights of location to help us remember and to share the experiences with those back home.

Prayer Coordinators: Make sure the team is “praying without ceasing.” Take the initiative to bring the team together for prayer. Keep a prayer journal for the team, including requests, praises and answers to prayer.

Public Relations: Make sure we leave a good impression wherever we go. Prepare “thank you” notes for people we visit.

Praise Band Member: Assist the music leaders. Help lead music, teach hand motions, generate excitement for the songs.

Music/Band Leaders & Members: Need to find children music appropriate for program, come up with motions to songs, practice and know songs well, provide upbeat music portion of program.

Game/Prize: In charge of coming up with group games, organizing the materials, running the games, and distributing prizes.

Drama Team: Find or write a drama that fits the theme of the week.  Team members must memorize their lines, come up with prop ideas, and practice their skits/dramas regularly.  Organize dramas and practices.

Teaching Team: Organize supplies, including materials transportation. Make sure everyone has the proper materials, teach others on the team how to lead story, games, check inventory, etc.

Multi-media Team: Oversee sound equipment, including transportation from location to location, as well as projectors, setup, tear-down, etc.  Also will help with PowerPoint and videos when needed.

Crowd Supervisor: When not included in program, sit with the kids in the crowd, encourage participation, do the motions, create energy, and keep an eye on and control kids in crowd.

Hospitality Team:  Leaving a good impression wherever we go – hotel, conference, on the streets/neighborhoods, etc.  Also, need to make sure this is done during training & interaction at church.  PLEASE & THANK YOU’S ALL DAY LONG!

Cleaning Crew:  You are not a maid service.  However, you need to make sure rooms are neat, people pick up after themselves, & put stuff away.  We are sharing rooms, so don’t treat it like a bedroom.  A big part of your job is encouragement for the REAL maid service – leave thank you notes, and keep room reasonable.  (This applies to those staying in hotels, but can be modified to other mission trip locations)

Prop Set Leader:  Oversee equipment transportation, organizing props, setup, putting them away afterwards, etc.

Supply Team:  “Did we forget something?”.  Your job is to make sure we answer “no” to that question, both when we leave Columbus, and each time we leave the hotel.  Also, help keeping track of people.

Trip Mom: Covers what Youth Pastor/Leader cannot…be a mom to the kids.  This would include helping those that are not feeling well, those that get hurt, those that are crying, and other things that your Youth Pastor is poor at doing.

Team Secretary:  Keep track of all this is mission trip.  Help the Team Communicator and other program team leaders stay organized.  Will also help with organization of team meals and help assist the Schedule Administrator.

Schedule Administrator:  Make sure we are on schedule and not late to things.  Will update the team on what is next and where we need to be.  Will need to have a good handle on the schedule to update leaders & team.

 

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Mission Trip Training – 10 Steps to Prevent Disaster

What is the best way to prepare for a mission trip?  In a word…TRAINING.  You want to avoid the Romeo who tries to ask out the missionary’s daughter or the insurance deductible for what is left of the new orphanage wing…Well, here are 10 steps that will help prevent disaster and set the table for God to work.  (Disclaimer:  Accidents, Trials, and Difficulty can/will occur during mission trips, but there are some difficulty that can be avoided)MissionTrainingPortfolio

1.      Application Process

Mission Trips are serious business.  They must be handled differently than a trip to an amusement park.  You don’t just put a sign-up list on your bulletin board with cool font and clip-art graphics.  No, most of the trips are designed for those students serious about serving God and getting their hands dirty for Jesus Christ.   So what do you do?  You have an application process.  Have each student fill out an application, get references from their parents/guardians and another adult, and must be turned in by the deadline.  Following the application, have them interview with yourself (include parents & other leaders in the interview).  Lay out the expectations of the trip, the assignments, the attendance policy, and the behavior expected in each participant.  If the student cannot meet the expectations, it is in your and their best interest they are not part of the team.

2.      Here’s Your Notebook

Make it look official.  Give each student a notebook with the assignments, place for notes, support letter samples, contact information, prayer requests, release forms, etc.  Students will be able to keep their program assignments and other materials in one spot, and will be advised to take their folders on the trip.  Although it takes some work to put these notebooks together, it is well worth the effort.

Lessons for the notebook notes include Evangelism training, Bible studies on Missions, and assigned reading review.  Guest speakers from the church provide a great way to connect the generations in this effort.  I’ve had elementary teachers and children workers come speak on child evangelism, working professionals speak on leadership or give a “How to Paint” tutorial, and Spanish teachers teach us about Latin culture.

3.      Strict Attendance & Expectations

When I say strict, I mean it.  I give the students one excused absence from training which would include vacation, sickness, etc.  If they miss more than one, they will receive an extra assignment.  Two absences will result in a meeting with the parents.  Why so strict?  I want these students to take this trip seriously.  They will be representing Christ and our church in another state/country, and skipping training shows they don’t see the trip as important.

Also, as part of their attendance each time we meet, I ask each student about the following:  Devotions, Church Attendance, Book Reading, and other assignments.  If there is consistent neglect of these things, additional assignments, and/or meeting with the parents will occur.  If the negligence continues, the student may be dismissed from the team.

4.      Get Your Church On Board

Each year, we prepare a short 15 minute presentation to the church about the trip.  The students present the trip by preparing a PowerPoint, explaining the training, preparation, funds needed, and trip tasks.  A student also will pray for the trip following the presentation.  This shows ownership of the trip and the church will most likely get on board when they hear about the trip from the teenagers themselves.  (And when you get back, makes sure to organize a testimony service)

5.      Unwrap Gifts

unwrapThe last few years I have required that each incoming/new student fill out a Spiritual Gift Inventory.  Using the results of the inventory, I place each student in the groups that best suit their gifts and abilities.  Why would I place a shy introvert whose gift is serving in the lead teaching role?  Similarly, why would a type-A, brilliant communicator with a teaching gift be put in a primarily behind the scenes role?  Sure, there will be times when you go out of your comfort zone, but the primary role should be one that reflects their gifts and abilities, which will in turn allow them to reach their greatest potential for God’s glory.

Tasks and responsibilities could include/but not limited to:  Communicator, Work Coordinators, Team Encourager, Communication Assistants, Ministry Coordinators, Photographers, Prayer Coordinators, Public Relations, Praise Band Member, Teaching Team, Hospitality Team, Cleaning Crew, & Supply Team (Stay Tuned for Task & Responsibility explanation list later in the blog this month)

6.      Unity Doesn’t Just Happen

Unity takes so much work.  This past year we did a unity game and it was complete silence, frustration was high, and people were getting offended by their misuse.  But, we kept at it, continued to do unity games periodically in training, and the final unity activity gave me goosebumps…communication, laughter, leadership, encouragement…that was worth the effort.

7.      Provide Leadership Opportunities

Stretch your students to reach their potential in leadership.  Give them responsibility.  Allow failure, but be there to pick them up when they fail at times.  If the teens aren’t pushed and are not taken out of their comfort zone, your spiritual growth opportunity will decrease significantly.  Allow them to lead music, teach lessons, take the pictures, share the Gospel, lead the devotions…You let them lead, and it may be more work in the outset, but the blessings will be so much more than you ever expected.

8.      Practice Makes…It’s Never Gonna Be Perfect

This is a no-brainer.  You have to schedule time to practice.  Whether it is puppets, music, teaching lessons…give them time to practice during training.  Allow students to be leaders during these practices, particularly the upperclassmen running these practices of their particular part in the program.

9.      Don’t Forget About the Gospelmission-trip-checklist

Speaking of practice, give the students opportunity to practice sharing the Gospel, both real and imaginary.   Here’s what I mean.  Each year, I set up the gym like wherever we are going.  I typically ask 2 or 3 small groups to come and participate in a mock evangelism event acting like different kinds of people.  One year was a park in inner-city Chicago or New York, and other year we were at a camp with a whole bunch of adults acting like elementary kids.  It gives the teens opportunity to practice in a less-pressure filled environment.  As the teens mature and gain more experience, take them door-to-door or to local parks to talk to people about Jesus.

10.  Prayer

Last, but certainly NOT least, is prayer.  Inside the notebooks should be a list of prayer requests that you have for the trip.  Encourage students to pray for these regularly.  Design a prayer card with the team’s picture on it and send those out in your support letters.  Have those cards available in the lobby of the church for people to grab and put on their refrigerators.  Also, as seen in the responsibility list, designate 1 or 2 students to be prayer leaders.  Have these leaders design a prayer book for the trip, and during training have them lead the prayer time and also keep track of individual prayer requests along the way.

See 10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip for more trip information and resources.

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