Sometimes, leading a small group can be intimidating. All I see are all of these little eyes looking at me, waiting for me to say something witty, and profound, and adult-like.
More than likely, their eyes are on their friends and whatever game we’re all playing.
And they aren’t waiting for me to say something profound. They’re waiting to find out what kind of snack is coming!
So I have to change my thinking. If I think of VBS as just another chance to fill a volunteer need or as something I always do because I’m obligated to, then it’ll be easier for me to get caught up in all the lists of to-dos. But if I think of VBS as an opportunity to build relationships in order to tell kids about Jesus, in order to help solidify foundations for them to build their faith on, then my priorities change. And suddenly, each individual set of eyes becomes the window to a new relationship.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That all sounds poetic and lovely, but let’s bring it down to ground level steps.
How do I build relationships with those “few” that surround me? How do I maximize my limited VBS time in order to make the biggest impact?
Make it FUN! If they see you having fun, they will join in! Do the activities. Do the crafts. Dance like they are watching you (because they are.) Worship with innocence. Make the memories. Have all the fun!
Focus on the kids! Get to know each other. Be intentional. Build trust. And ask questions that help the children connect in common areas. If you have access to your small group’s addresses, send the families a postcard halfway through the week. Just a quick note to say “I’m so glad you are in my group,” and include your contact info.
Use your own story! Model worship, curiosity, compassion, and respect. Let them see how much you want to be there. Connect elements from the day to your own life. In doing so, you make the lessons and bottoms lines come alive because suddenly, there is real world context. So be real, and be human.
Know your stuff! Come prepared each day so that you are able to have fun instead of worrying about what comes next. Get ahead on what you can, and ask questions before you need the answers. It’ll save you time in the long run. Engage in the rotations. Learn from the stories. Live in the moment. And be ready to roll with the punches.
Next thing you know, those “few” will become the priority—even within the confines of a VBS week. That initial intimidation will give way to the relationships that play a huge role in making it an amazing summer!
By Dana Anderson