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It’s almost summertime, and this year many churches are wondering if "VBS as usual" is the best option. Maybe you are finding yourself wondering if there is a new way to engage children and families throughout the summer.  

If you are looking for ways to refresh your approach to ministry with children in the summertime, the Summer Ministries tab in the Children’s Ministry Toolkit has a variety of resources and ideas for engaging children and families throughout the summer. But before you get lost in all the details, here are three additional ways to strengthen your ministry with children this summer.

Expand Your Vision

There is more to summer ministry with kids then a one-week VBS. While it might be the biggest event of your summer, use the week of VBS to create energy and excitement for an entire summer focus. If scheduled for early June, use VBS as a kick-off and continue the same theme throughout the summer.

If your VBS is in the middle of the summer, what are some things you can do to prepare kids for that exciting week? Are there some objectives or skills that you began in VBS and can continue to work on afterwards? Some VBS curricula offer 10 lessons. Maybe you can use those unused lessons for a five-week special focus after VBS.

Expand your vision of summer ministry and take VBS out of the church and into the neighborhood. Using the same VBS curriculum, ask families to host Neighborhood Bible Clubs.  These clubs are designed to encourage connections between church families and their neighbors and share the gospel with children.

Change the Pace

If your congregation is one which offers year round children’s ministry programming, summer provides the opportunity to change the pace of ministry and try out some new ideas. Step back and think about the bigger picture of what biblical knowledge or skills you want kids to learn.

Can summer be a time to focus on missions, outreach, or Scripture memorization? Maybe you want to take this time and create opportunities for cultivating friendships through some fun activities designed for fellowship.

Is there a new curriculum you want to try out? Maybe you can use summer for a special four- or six-week focus on a new curriculum. Check out our curriculum reviews in Faith Formation Ministries’ new Children’s Ministry Toolkit) Be willing to take a chance and see if that one idea has potential to become something special for your church!

Be Together!

Summer is a great time to create opportunities for everyone to be together. As Robert Keeley writes in Helping Our Children Grow in Faith, “Relationships have a more lasting impact than programs.” So try incorporating some fun and simple activities that foster relationships. Plan a church game night or an intergenerational activity night. You could host a family movie night or family storytelling night. Take a look at our Intergenerational Church Toolkit for more ideas.

Summer is also a great time to invest in your ministry team. As a thank you for volunteering in the ministry, plan a team picnic or cookout. Build relationships with your new volunteers and the ones who are coming back.

Mimi Larson is the CRC's Children's Ministry Catalyzer. If you have questions or challenges about faith formation in children, choosing curriculum, equipping volunteers, and more, contact Mimi at [email protected].

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