I wish you could have seen it.
Every year, we field test our new vacation Bible school program in a local church. Our team from Group leads the activities, leaders from around the country come lead the VBS crews of children, and we tweak what kids experience as we go, making sure that we get everything just right. (It’s been a fantastic process that’s served us well for years!)
I experienced our Bible Adventures station this year when we made one of those tweaks—and it made all the difference.
My friend Bob was helping kids discover that Jesus’ power helps us do hard things. He shared the Bible story of Ananias needing to help Saul—the bully to Christians. Knowing that Saul didn’t take kindly to Christians made that a hard thing for Ananias!
Bob asked the children to tell their Crew Leaders something hard they were facing.
I listened in. The answers kids gave just skimmed the surface. “Math is hard” and “I fell in a hole” are okay responses, but “okay” wasn’t good enough for me.
I wondered if we could go deeper.
So, I asked Bob to try something different when the next rotation of kids came in: Go first. Share a hard thing you’re facing.
That’s what he did.
Bob’s sister was seriously sick, and he told kids he was really worried about her. Bob didn’t go into detail, but he shared the “hard thing” he was facing.
This time, when Bob asked children to tell their Crew Leaders what was hard in their lives, the answers were so different!
“My parents fight all the time and I’m scared they’ll get a divorce.”
“I’m going to a new school and I don’t want to go.”
“My best friend told me she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.”
“My friend is moving away, and I can’t do anything about it.”
Wow! What a difference!
Here are some take-aways from this experience…
- Model vulnerability.
When you’re leading and you model vulnerability, you give everyone in the room permission to be vulnerable.
YOUR stories and example matter! When you share your life with others, you open doors for deeper ministry as others see how God matters in your life—today!
To the degree you risk—in your Sunday school class, small group, or congregation—others will risk, too.
The power of sharing first is so powerful we’ve woven it into every resource we can. Our award-winning VBS programs, Lifetree Café, and our brand-new preteen curriculum, BE BOLD, are just a few examples.
Give it a try yourself and see what a difference it makes!
The next time you ask your class or congregation to share how God matters, say, “In a moment I’ll ask you to talk about that, but first let me give you an example from my life.”
As you share, keep this in mind:
- Keep your story brief.
You’re modeling what you hope others might think about and share, not turning the spotlight on yourself. You’re opening up so others can open up, too.
- Keep your story true and current.
A story from your distant past is less powerful than one that’s happening in your life right now. For example, “I’m afraid right now of…” or “I’m struggling with…” or “I just had a fight with my spouse about…”
- Keep your story age appropriate.
Bob did a wonderful job of this in our VBS field test. The kids wouldn’t have understood medical jargon, but they knew exactly what “really sick” meant. Keep this in mind as you connect with different generations and groups.
So, go first! See how God uses your stories and your actions to set the tone for real-life faith discoveries.
YOU’re changing the world—one heart at a time!