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Take Advantage of the Fertile Soil that VBS Offers!
By: Jeffrey Reed

What if I gave you two pots? One pot drains well and is full of nutrient-rich soil. The other pot is clogged and full of rocks and sand. While it is possible that something might grow in the sand, it is a much less likely that a plant will grow there.

This scenario is not like the parable of the sower, which has more to do with growth. This illustration has more to do with when life begins. It’s the picture of the “mountain-top experience.”

One of the most common times for spiritual life to begin is when the soil is most fertile and the environment is perfect.

Did you know that two-thirds of all Christians make the decision to follow Christ before their 18th birthday and that half of those make the decision before they become a teenager?

In other words, the human heart is most fertile during the childhood years of a person’s life. If you are in kids ministry, you are working with the most fertile soil!

So, what about the pot? The soil is good, but you want to increase the chances that a decision might be made to follow Jesus. What does that container/environment look like?

I have about 60 people that serve on my team at LifeWay Kids. This past year, during one-on-one conversations, I surveyed the team to find out when most of them had made the decision to follow Christ. With very few exceptions, the decision to follow Christ was made at an event…a mountain-top experience…a VBS…a camp.

If you know that kids are primed to respond to the gospel and that great events — like the ones listed above — are the best environments, why wouldn’t you strategically plan them into your ministry year?

Why wouldn’t you do a VBS? Why wouldn’t you take your kids to camp? I won’t address the issues and challenges for making these types of events happen, but I will suggest that they are worth it, no matter the challenge.

Most folks know that the soil of the human heart is most fertile when a person is, well, a kid. Even before I responded to God’s call on my life to serve in children’s ministry, I always felt like churches should pour twice as many resources and energy into kids ministry.

But what about “mountain-top” experiences for kids? What about those VBS events? What about camp? Despite the work involved, are they REALLY worth it?

You bet!

All you have to do is peruse virtually every segment of Scripture and see that God takes people out of the “normal” flow and churn of life to someplace that is “remote.” Moses literally experienced transformation on the mountain-top. Many scholars believe that Moses’ experience is the origin of the phrase “mountain-top experience.”

Jesus demonstrated (regularly) that getting away from the crowd and spending that one-on-one time with God is critical.

I gave my life to Jesus Christ at a camp in the mountains of North Carolina. There is something about taking kids away so that they can experience something that is far-removed from their “normal” ebb and flow. Camp is a great place to meet the Creator.

VBS is another chance to take kids away from the “regular stuff” and give them great mountain-top experiences. They are so worth it! Yes, it’s hard to get volunteers. Yes, it’s possible for our “out-reach” events to become “in-reach” events, but they are worth it.

Mountain-top experiences provide the perfect container for the soil of a kid’s heart.

Here are three cautions.

First, don’t allow mountain-top experiences to be the ONLY place where dynamic life-change takes place. You should put equal energy into your week-to-week ministries. You should consistently present the gospel. Don’t wait until your curriculum tells you to. In fact, if your curriculum doesn’t tell you to on a regular basis, you should change curriculum.

Second, engage the family in the journey. Mountain-tops are designed to launch. It’s the beginning of a journey. It’s not THE journey. Make sure that every kid’s family is on that journey with them.

Finally, mix up those experiences from year to year. Try different locations. Try doing VBS at night or on the weekend or over Spring or Fall break.

Water and feed well!

Jeffrey Reed serves as the director of kids ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, www.lifeway.com.









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