I love unity. I love being a part of combined efforts, whether it’s working with other youth groups, meeting with youth ministers of various denominations and backgrounds for prayer, going to ecumenical community events, or tagging along with another church’s group for a project or event. I don’t understand when people do not love working/playing/worshiping/spending time together as much as I do and I really can’t understand when ministry leaders aren’t interested in working with other ministries and congregations because it means they will have to share the spotlight and “benefits.”
Here’s something else I love: Vacation Bible School! For the last nine summers, our church has joined with other churches in our community for a week of VBS fun. This week in Henderson, Community Baptist Church, First Christian Church, Presbyterian Church and St. Paul’s Episcopal Churches have combined forces, resources and energy to provide a week of crafts, drama, games, snacks and some awesome passages from the book of Acts to kids of all ages.
This is actually a pretty unique thing. I’ve seen churches of the same denomination in a particular area or city combine for VBS, but it’s very rare to have four churches of different denominations come together for a week. The Henderson and Evansville papers have both taken notice of this–both papers are sending photographers and journalists to cover the week’s events (I’ll post links when the stories run).
The wonderful thing is that this model of VBS has worked nearly flawlessly for nine years. In fact, as I was speaking with Donna Stinnett from Henderson’s Gleaner this morning, all I could think of were wonderful things that have happened as a result of our combined VBS program.
- We share resources that we would otherwise be purchasing and gathering separately.
- We have a large talent pool to draw from for volunteers. Dr. Dave, the minister at First Christian is a wonderful drama leader. Greg at Community Baptist is an incredibly talented game director. Sharon from the Presbyterian Church loves art and helping kids create it. Michelle from St. Paul’s loves to teach pre-school. Our kitchen crew is made up of patient ladies from all four churches who love the challenge that part of VBS present. Teenagers from all churches (and even from some churches that aren’t officially a part of our VBS) just love to act like kids again as they help the ones younger than them get the most out of the day. And so on and so on and so on…Everywhere you look, you see talented people using their gifts to share God’s love with kids.
- The smallest congregation among us is able to have a VBS. Before, they couldn’t manage it.
- We have plenty of helpers to have a daytime program (Most other churches in our community have moved to a night time program because it’s too hard to recruit volunteers during the work day).
- We have a VBS director’s team and we can each oversee our own area, rather than one director overseeing the entire program (and again, we’re able to use our talents).
Why does it work? Because we have decided to come together not to grow our own churches or to shine a light on our own buildings and programs, but to provide a fun week of learning and growing and giggling and playing for kids from all corners of our community. Why else does it work? Because we’re not focusing on the things that make us different. We’re coming together around the things we have in common.
And I really love that!