We recently had Vacation Bible School at Christ the King. Man, what a learning experience that was! Overseeing a large undertaking such as that is a big task, but I was blessed to have an awesome volunteer that was co-directing with me who really helped take care of most of the details. It’s weird walking into a place and being given positions of leadership without having gone through all the preparations and planning for the different programs. Leaning heavily on those who have gone before me, asking them for help and asking lots of questions along the way was one of the themes for VBS for me this year.
But more than the shift in leading such a program, I really was struck by my volunteers. They are absolutely amazing! As one of the directors, my job was to be continually going to different stations and seeing how the volunteers were doing and if they needed anything else. Sometimes this involved stepping in when some overactive preschoolers tried to leave their crew leader in the dust, while other times it was just thanking the volunteers for their time throughout the week. But my favorite moments were those when I could just sit back for a moment and watch, amazed, at how God was working through each volunteer. For me, the focus of Vacation Bible School really turned from it just being a ministry to the kids, to realizing that it is a tremendous ministry to the volunteer adults. I was able to see these volunteers really become servants to the kids they were working with. These adults were not only extremely capable in the area they were working in, but were also very intentional about bringing Christ into each activity. Every craft, game, activity, story, skit, song, video and snack was followed by a short recap or debriefing that connected it to the Bible, faith or God. This is one part that could be easily skipped or looked past for the sake of time, but I was just amazed at how each of the volunteers made it a priority to teach the faith in their context.
Vacation Bible School for me has evolved into more than just a way for kids to have fun and learn about God. What if VBS could also be about Volunteers Becoming Servants? It’s certainly not an either/or, but a glorious both/and! If Christ is not the center of everything that is done at VBS, or really any other church program for that matter, then I’m just collecting volunteers for my own convenience and to make things easy on me. But, if VBS and the other service opportunities we have at church are centered in Christ and relating everything we do back to Him, then I have the opportunity to help my volunteers grow in their knowledge and experience in being servants, which Christ has freed us to be.
Maybe we need to change our style of asking for volunteers. Right now it’s pretty easy to go around begging for anyone to do a job while explaining how easy it is and make it as little of a sacrifice as possible for them. “Please help us with VBS. We NEED more people. It’s really easy. You just need to take kids from one place to the other. Or you just need to make some snacks. Or fill in your own blank with an easy task that anyone can do.” By asking nothing of them and saying that anyone can do it, we end up
trivializing their sacrifice and diminishing the impact their service can have–both on themselves and on the kids. Instead of going into a meeting with the volunteers by preparing to apologize for the burden that the service is on them, perhaps we could share with these servants the impact that they will have on the kids and how their service will impact them as well. Maybe we could see service in the name of Christ as relieving burdens rather than causing them. I had a wonderful experience with my volunteers at Vacation Bible School this week and it was amazing to see them become servants for the kids there as they sought to teach them Jesus and share His love with them. Sure, it was a lot of work, but it was more than worth it to see God at work through it all. He is the one making all things new, including you and your volunteers. To Him be all the glory!