By Justin Mullins
Young Families Pastor, Collierville First Baptist Church
A few years ago, our church, Collierville First Baptist Church, decided to take a closer look at who we were reaching through our annual Vacation Bible School. While our numbers were strong, we were surprised to discover that only four percent of the children who attended were unchurched.
We put all our resources, volunteers and effort into a huge program that consisted of 96 percent of the children attending our church or another church in the area. So, we began to pray and ask the Lord for a new and exciting opportunity to reach new families with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We defined the success of this program by how many unchurched families we could reach.
Our prayers were answered when we discovered Backyard Kids Clubs. In many ways, this better aligned with what Scripture says. In the Great Commission Jesus commands to “Go and make disciples…” and John reported in his third letter that it was, “For His name’s sake, they went out…” We changed our philosophy of Vacation Bible School (and many other programs) from, “Come and see!” to “Go and tell!”
Our people lived in the communities that surrounded our church. Families went to the same schools, played on the same teams, and were involved in the same community events. Our job as a church was to equip them to live on mission. We asked our people to host a BKC. Every year we recruit people in different neighborhoods, who attend different schools, and live near different parks to host a miniature version of VBS in their own yard. We have clubs that meet at apartment complexes, front yards, back yards, and local parks. What we discovered was that a lot more people would be willing to attend a neighborhood event at someone’s house than would walk into a church building.
Each year we would host between 10-12 clubs. This past year our Kids Ministry team began praying for twenty clubs. To the glory of Jesus, we had 20. In addition to our regular clubs, we also had one club at our church for preschoolers who have special needs, one in Moscow and one in Byhalia, Miss. We were so encouraged to see so many new people step up and volunteer to serve with games, activities, music, snacks and lessons.
We saw over 470 children attend our Backyard Kids Clubs. This was so encouraging because half of our clubs were new. And on top of that, our people were seeing BKCs as one of our church’s biggest missional opportunities. One of the coolest opportunities was that we were able to reach hundreds of local Indian residents. FedEx has a large workforce of Indian people working in technology and we saw this as an opportunity to welcome them to our community and bless them with the good news of Jesus Christ. Indian parents would attend BKCs with their children and would hear about Jesus. At one of our sites, a mother of an Indian boy talked with one of our counselors and repented of her sins and believed in Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
We shared the gospel, gave out Bibles, and invited people from all over the area to our church. The Sunday following BKCs we had a big celebration in Kids Ministry and saw several new families visit our church as a result of BKCs.
If you are looking for a new way of reaching the families in your community, I would highly suggest praying through and considering doing Backyard Kids Clubs. The curriculum and resources are produced by LifeWay and are top notch. The amount of work it takes to host successful BKCs is a lot but it is worth it. It is about taking the gospel to our neighbors.