Last evening, I had the privilege of attending an online small business meeting through Twitter. The meeting, #smallbizchat, is hosted by Melinda Emerson (whom you may remember me mentioning previously) every Wednesday. Yesterday, she interviewed Mike “Ambassador” Bruny, aka @ambassadorbruny.
Although the subject of the evening was “How to Leverage Conference Networking”, I finished up the meeting with lots of great ideas for interacting with people in the children’s ministry setting.
It should be a given that Vacation Bible School leaders lead Vacation Bible School because they have a God-given love for children that they long to share. VBS Leaders and the most eager VBS helpers find it rather natural to interact positively with the children in many situations that others might find exasperating or puzzling.
Where some of us fall short, though, is in interacting with the adults–parents, friends, and neighbors–all those people who are strangers to us. It is not that we care any less for these precious people; but for some reason we find the interaction more challenging and definitely not as natural as our time with the children.
Our personality does not need to be a hindrance in sharing Jesus with all ages!
I would like to present eight ideas here that are mostly take-offs of what Mr. Bruny shared with us all last night. I believe that by keeping these simple tips in mind (and of course, praying for God to work through us) we can learn to effectively socialize with purpose as a Vacation Bible School leader.
1. Care for your appearance. Sometimes as Christians, people get the idea that they should avoid being careful with their appearance to stay away from seeming “worldly”. Not so. God made us in His own image. We are representatives of the King of Kings, the Most Holy God. We need to look the part.
It may seem too basic to mention, but I believe it is important: shower, brush your teeth, and comb your hair, taking a little time to make your hair nice and comfortable to wear. Choose clothes, too, that are comfortable, neat, and well-fitting (as well as modest).
These are just a few things that quickly boost your confidence and self-worth.
2. Realize that you have something to share. You are a child of God, saved from destruction by His awesome love. You have a story to tell of His amazing grace!
You have spent time with some people who are very important to both you and the parents–their children. You have encouraging experiences and exciting plans–don’t be afraid to share some of it!
3. Approach the “common” people. Often, many people are wanting to talk to the pastor or the well-known person of the day. Look for someone who is hanging out alone. Drop in on small groups.
You are most likely on your “home turf” at VBS. Be on the look-out for people who are not feeling so at home, and be ready to show them where things are or introduce them to a group conversation.
Always be ready to smile and greet a stranger. There will be a lot of people at your church during Vacation Bible School–especially at the closing program–who are not normally there. Take the opportunity, and make your way around the room, introducing yourself. Be on guard that “you” are not the purpose of all of your talk, but do be sure to meet lots of people!
4. Listen, listen, listen. First, listen for God’s guiding voice. Second, listen to the person you are talking to. Look at him or her as they talk. Ask questions. Learn something about the person; then you can respond to them in a more personalized and helpful way.
5. Write things down. You will learn a lot as you converse with people. Be sure to write things down. Take notes about the things they share–especially personal things, like the comment about their child’s recent achievement, or their struggle with a particular Bible subject. If you agree to talk again at a particular time or meet for some purpose later…write it down!
6. Don’t be afraid to pray for someone. If someone confides in you to share a need for prayer, do not take it lightly. Offer to pray for them then and there. Share a Bible promise (yet another reason to store up God’s Word in your heart!). Write the prayer request on your notes, if appropriate.
7. Be early and stay late. Besides making your job immensely easier and less stressful, being early and staying late gives people extra opportunities to find you. Plus, in my experience, it seems that the people who arrive early at church events and linger even after the program is over are often the ones most in need of companionship and/or most open to the Holy Spirit’s influence. Watch for these people and be sure to meet them.
8. Follow up! Building relationships takes time and multiple interactions. Pray for the people you have met. Follow the Lord’s leading and invite them to church events that you think might interest them. Make a phone call or drop by their home as the Spirit leads you, even if it is to just say you are praying for them or that you enjoyed your conversation. If they mentioned a need that you are capable of filling, by all means, fill it!
As Vacation Bible School leaders, our special focus is the children of our church and community, but we must be sure to leave the way open as the Lord wants to use us to touch adults within our reach, as well. By relying on His strength and keeping these few basic tips in mind, we are certain to become more effective fishers–not only of children–but of men and women, too!
~Do you find it natural to interact with all age groups, or do you find some easier than others?
~Do you have other tips for socializing with parents and other adults from the community in a way that glorifies God?
****All of Hasten Home’s Vacation Bible School Programs come complete with a closing program outline to use as an important final part of your church’s VBS ministry plan. The closing program summarizes the teachings of the Vacation Bible School to share with the community in an engaging way, while solidifying the truth in the children’s minds.****