In case you haven't heard, Backyard Kids Clubs (also known as Backyard Bible Clubs) are an excellent way to expand the reach of your church and your VBS far beyond the neighborhoods directly surrounding the church campus.
Like VBS, BKCs are by nature evangelistic and create an excellent opportunity to connect families to the Gospel and to the church. But unlike Bible Schools that are designed for a large number of kids divided into age groupings (closely graded), BKCs are designed for 20 or fewer kids who typically met in one or two groups of multiple ages (broadly graded).
Because BKCs require fewer workers, resources and space, and are uniquely created to reach the families of a specific street or multi-housing community, they can be planned and promoted quickly. BKCs are a perfect add-on to your summer. In fact, many churches planning BKCs will also conduct a traditional VBS and use BKCs as a way to reach kids in sections of the community who can not easily travel to the church campus. (A congregation in Clarksville, Tennessee is planning one week of traditional VBS followed by 10 BKCs throughout the city.)
Not yet convinced that BKC is right for your church? Here are six ways to take VBS beyond the church walls and into the neighborhoods of your community.
1. Work with the managers of multi-housing communities (apartment complexes and mobile home parks) to conduct BKCs specifically for the kids of each community. Since BKCs can be conducted with as few as three or four workers, a congregation with 100 workers could potentially conduct as many as 25 BKCs simultaneously.
2. Challenge each adult small group or Sunday School class to conduct at least one BKC in the neighborhood of a group member. (A congregation in Dallas, Texas makes conducting a BKC an annual requirement of every home group.)
3. Enlist and train a group of older high school and collage students to serve as a summer mission team to conduct BKCs throughout the community. (A congregation in Kentucky has trained a student team and is making the team available to help area churches with VBS and BKC.)
4. Partner with area churches to conduct BKCs in city parks and recreation centers.
5. Partner with smaller-membership churches to provide workers for BKCs on their church campuses or in the surrounding neighborhoods.
6. Plan BKCs for Fall, Winter and Spring breaks. Several school districts I'm aware of now schedule two-week breaks. While families might not be looking for activities as structured as VBS, the informal atmosphere of BKC provides a perfect opportunity to gather neighborhood kids for recreation and Bible study.
LifeWay produces a fantastic resource designed for Backyard Kids Clubs that is part of the VBS 2014 Agency D3 resources.
Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves as LifeWay's VBS Ministry Specialist as well as VBS Director at Creekside Fellowship, a church plant in Castalian Springs, Tennessee, where LifeWay's Backyard Kids Club resources are being used for the second year.