Go Big or Go Home, Summer Outreach for Church and Neighborhood

Go Big or Go Home, Summer Outreach for Church and Neighborhood

"Go big or go home!" You may have heard someone use that phrase as encouragement to go all-out or put all of your effort into an opportunity. Does this describe your level of motivation for evangelistic outreach this upcoming summer after having to scale back or cancel plans over the last couple of years?

When it comes to a summer evangelism program, Truth78 curriculum gives you the opportunity to present the gospel to children in an all-out, full-scale way, but with a twist on the phrase "go big or go home." 

Building on the core of God-centered, gospel-grounded lessons, you can either "go big" with a large, church-based Vacation Bible School (VBS) or "go home" with a Backyard Bible Club (BYBC) based in your home or neighborhood. Either approach has big benefits for those leading and those participating in these programs.

Go Big with Vacation Bible School

A Vacation Bible School format offers a wide outreach centralized around a church's facilities. Truth78's curriculum allows it to be anchored in teaching that instructs the mind, engages the heart, and influences the will.

At the beginning of 2021, Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky planned to restart their VBS program after having to cancel the year before because of COVID. In this brief interview, Amy Sarin, Clifton's Director of Kids Ministry, describes how the church landed on Truth78's Things Hidden curriculum for their restart.

How did the Truth78 curriculum help you accomplish your goals for VBS?

After a year without a VBS program, the elders and I wanted something that would ultimately align well with what we do every week in our Kids Ministry. We didn’t want a “stand alone” week that doesn’t flow with our regular programs. Historically, the majority of our attendees have been Clifton kids, although we do a focused visitor outreach as well. We use Truth78 curriculum in our weekly kids ministry, but I still looked at several popular VBS curricula to see what else was available. I ultimately chose Truth78’s Things Hidden curriculum because it:
  1. Is Bible-rich and God-centered
  2. Provides a clear and thoughtful gospel presentation
  3. Includes lessons that are engaging but rightfully weighty, not focused on feel good fluff
  4. Integrates well with what we teach during the week
  5. Could be scaled up or down for our age range
  6. Includes well-designed daily lessons with many options for add-on games, activities, and more

    How did you build out the VBS experience from the curriculum?

    The layout of Truth78’s curriculum made it easy to come up with our own take on the Things Hidden theme so that it would fit our church culture. While the curriculum is full and thorough, it’s not overly scripted or based on a particular cartoon or single Bible character like some of the other VBS curriculums I looked at. 
    We were able to have a great brainstorming session with our leadership team to come up with sets and themes that would resonate with the kids from our church, as well as be engaging to visitors.
    • We developed the hidden treasure theme with a larger-than-life treasure chest in the main auditorium where we did our welcome and worship.
    • We divided the group into two teaching areas (one for grades K-2 and one for grades 3-5). We set up those teaching areas like a professor's library where we were able to incorporate all the visual teaching elements of the lessons into the sets. We then further divided the groups by grades for discussion and application with group leaders.
    • We developed our games and activities primarily from the recommendations in the curriculum, adding more complexity for our older grades. 
    • We reinforced the lessons with songs about the parables of Jesus from Sovereign Grace Music's Listen Up! album.  

    There was so much room for fun, games, music, motions, and other activities that we could tailor it to fit the needs of our building, schedule, and age groups.  

    What are your plans following your experience last summer?

    Our VBS was so successful that we plan to use all four Truth78 VBS curricula on a 4-year rotating basis.

    Go Home with Backyard Bible Club

    Backyard Bible Clubs (BYBC) offer a simple, low-cost, neighborhood-based, highly-relational format that provides the opportunity for ongoing interaction with both parents and children.

    Keith and Lonna Substad of Eagan, Minnesota, hosted several Backyard Bible Clubs over a 10-year period, teaching through each of the Truth78 studies. Here they share how the curriculum anchored their backyard outreach.

    What have you valued about the Backyard Bible Club approach?

    We loved our years of doing BYBC as a family. We thought having the club in our own backyard gave it a more personal approach and atmosphere. It provided opportunities for our neighbors to hear gospel truths as they walked by our house. The outdoor setting was helpful for people who aren’t accustomed to or comfortable going to a church. It also allowed us to expand our BYBC through high school for several families who wanted to keep coming. The smaller setting gave us more personal connecting time with the children and their parents. This also helped us build relationships with folks beyond our immediate neighbors, opening up conversations when we would see them on a walk or at the park.  

    How have you seen children engage the studies you've taught?

    Teaching first-sixth graders all together can be challenging, but we found the depth of teaching and approach to be very appropriate and effective for all of the grades. There were times when it was a bit challenging for a first grader, but overall, they were very engaged. With such a wide range of ages, the curriculum needs to aim more toward middle-older children, and it did that very well.

    Are there ways you've further built out the experience that you would offer as suggestions to others planning to teach the studies you've taught?

    On the final day of BYBC we invited the parents to come for the last half hour to listen to a short program the kids would put on to tell what they had learned during the week. They would sing a couple of worship songs, do skits, quote memory verses, and more. After the short program, we served root beer floats, which allowed us to have a great time of connection with the parents. One year we also invited all the children who attended BYBC to come to our house a couple times during the school year for additional follow-up time, where we would have a lesson, activity, and snack.

    Format Comparisons

    Vacation Bible School Backyard Bible Club
    Wide reach Focused connection
    Centralized Potential to be spread out in communities 
    Based in church setting Neighborhood-based

    Church facilities for staging, music, and more

    Flexibility for simpler and low-cost production


    Anchor your summer outreach in God-centered, gospel-grounded curriculum

    What comes with each curriculum

    Each curriculum contains five lessons, complete with colorful visuals and application discussion questions. Optional elements include fun activities, games, and worksheets, as well as a student project that can be worked on throughout the duration of the curriculum. 

    Overview of elements included in the coordinator's starter kit:

    Things Hidden, The Call of God, and God Always Wins curriculum have been newly revised.

    Things Hidden
    A study on the parables of Jesus so children might seek the hidden treasure of God and find their satisfaction in Him.
    The Call of God
    A study on the work of God in redemption, exploring the call of God and various responses to that call.
    God Always Wins
    A study on the greatness of God, the great Victor who triumphs over all enemies, including Satan, death, and sin.


    Note: The VBS/BYBC curriculum Wisdom Calls Aloud, a study on wisdom and the fear of the Lord, is being revised but is still available to order.

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