PHILADELPHIA (BRN) – When we think about planning Vacation Bible School, it usually includes creating a flyer and inviting the community. Churches buildings teeming with children learning and singing songs also come to mind.
This year, Pastor Michael Harvey of Harvest Church, Petroleum Valley Campus in Petrolia, Pennsylvania, and Pastor Daniel McCrosky of Expressway Church in Freeport, Pennsylvania, did things a little differently at their respective churches. Each pastor took their VBS on the road with the help of a BRN Evangelism grant.
“Traditionally VBS this summer we tried something different from our normal children’s summer ministry. Rather than host a VBS-like event at our own facility that would attract and serve primarily our own children, we decided to reach out to five communities that we have been serving in various capacities throughout the year,” said Harvey.
McCrosky initially planned to hold Expressway’s VBS in the nearby town of Freeport, but ran into a snag.
“The City of Freeport was excited for us to hold our Vacation Bible School on their baseball and football fields so
the entire town could have easy access but with COVID restrictions, their city league baseball tournaments and the International Baseball Tournament this year running all through July, it made it impossible for us to do it this year,” McCrosky explained. “So in our discussion of our options because not doing something was not going to be one, a church member said we should do a Vacation Bible School at the Sheldon Park Housing Projects.”
Located less than five miles away from Expressway, the Sheldon Park houses 192 units and two community centers. One community center is LLoyd D. Hayden Community Center operated by Bonita Hayden, whose father started the center 30 years ago.
“Ms. Bonita couldn’t have been nicer and was excited for us to come and conduct the VBS here,” McCrosky said. “So we went to work praying and planning.”
The church couldn’t use the inside of facilities due to COVID so they bought eight pop up tents to house activities.
Harvest’s VBS on-the-road decision was also not without its challenges. The church had to strike a balance between serving their kids while at the same time having them to serve kids of other communities.
“It provided an opportunity to address the consumer vs. contributor mindset that churches can easily fall into where how my needs are being met is foremost rather than using my gifts and talents to serve others first. It focused our gospel presentation because we knew we had one opportunity to reach the children who attended from each community,” explained Harvey.
Both churches experienced positive outcomes.
“While we served a smaller amount of children each evening, 90% (45 kids) represented the unchurched or de-churched in each of the communities we visited. Follow up efforts using the contact information we gathered at the event has started, and we have already seen one family from the outreach attend worship with us. We trust God will continue to produce growth with the seeds that have been planted,” said Harvey.
McCroskey shared, “This has dramatically changed our church. In our council meeting this week, everyone was thinking of ways to go back into that community to minister to the children and parents. Our church wants to make this an every year activity plus more. We are going to do our best to love them all to Jesus.”
The Great Commission commands believers to go and make disciples and these two traveling Vacation Bible Schools did just that!