My backyard looks like a barren arctic landscape. It’s hard to imagine planting a garden here when it’s currently buried under 18 inches of new April snow. But spring will come—eventually. God controls the times and seasons. He is faithful! Soon this lifeless looking space will burst forth in a myriad of beautiful colors. How? I will go out and sow seed, water and care for it, and God will bring the growth. And yet, these plants will fade and die come winter, ushering in another season of barrenness.
But there is an infinitely better seed for sowing; one that can be sown in your own backyard this summer. This seed has the ability bring about and spread eternal joy in your neighborhood—God’s Word! Truth78’s Backyard Bible Club (BYBC) curricula are designed for just such seed sowing in your neighborhood. Read on to find out more.
What is a Backyard Bible Club? How is it different than Vacation Bible School?
A Backyard Bible Club is simply a new twist on an old idea; namely, a new twist on a traditional Vacation Bible School program. VBS usually takes place for a week’s duration, during the summer, at a local church or other designated location and is organized and led by the children’s director along with volunteers. Most often the focus of the VBS is evangelistic: Creating an appealing environment for welcoming children from non-Christian homes in order to expose them to the Gospel. A BYBC shares this latter goal but uses a different venue for doing so. Instead of taking place at the local church, the BYBC is located at homes of church members, in their backyards (or front yards), and is led by these same members who have been equipped and trained by their church.
There are several reasons we believe a BYBC is strategic. Here are just a few:
- An increasing number of people are completely un-churched. Therefore, they may be less willing to send their children to an actual “church” event. On the other hand, most Christians already have some level of positive involvement with the parents and children in their own neighborhoods. A BYBC takes advantage of these existing relationships and seeks to build upon them. Therefore, a BYBC helps foster a long-term, relational model of evangelism that can provide ongoing interaction with both parents and children. Unbelievers can see the Gospel modeled and lived out in the lives of their Christian neighbors.
- Because a BYBC is not centralized in one location, it can be conducive to a local church’s larger mission of engaging the community—reaching unbelievers close to where they live. Thus, unbelievers learn to identify “the church” as not mainly a building but as a people—a people who trust and follow Jesus, not just on Sunday, but every day of the week.
- A traditional VBS program is labor intensive for both church staff and volunteers. By design, a BYBC is smaller by nature, more flexible in its structure, can accommodate a greater diversity of schedules, and distributes the work among a greater number of members. Furthermore, a BYBC offers individual families within the church an excellent way to minister together. Every member of the family can participate in a meaningful way.
- Most VBS curricula is not only expensive but also requires extensive set-up and preparation. Much of the expense and preparation is geared toward lots of “bells and whistles”: exciting visual elements, fun activities, crafts, food, etc. While a BYBC does include some of these in limited measure, the focus of the time is given to communicating the life-giving message of God’s Word and encouraging thoughtful interaction with the Word.
Truth78 Backyard Bible Club Curricula
We currently have the following curricula available for BYBC. All of them are designed for school-aged children and have an evangelistic focus. These curricula can be used in any order, and may also be used for a traditional VBS.
Wisdom Calls Aloud Once we are free from the fear of God’s wrath, our fear of Him is the beginning of gaining wisdom. (Revision titled Wisdom Quest coming out in March!)
The Call of God It is the duty of every human to respond to God in faith and belief, and yet, every person is dependent on the work of God in redemption.
Things Hidden Exploring the Kingdom parables Jesus used in order to conceal the kingdom from those who doubted and explain it to those who would believe.
God Always Wins No matter individual circumstances and challenges, God’s sovereign wisdom, power, and purpose show the Greatness of God in Salvation.
Getting started – Basic questions and answers regarding using our BYBC resources
1. How often do Backyard Bible Clubs meet and when do they meet?
Most clubs run five sessions. These can be held in the morning, afternoon, or early evening. Most people hold the sessions in a one-week period (i.e. Monday through Friday) but they can also be held once-a-week for five weeks. The sessions can be held inside or outside.
2. What is the duration of each session?
The sessions can be from 1-3 hours long, depending on how many activities you would like to include.
3. Who should be invited?
Neighborhood children, friends of your children, and children of relatives—especially children you will have continued contact with.
4. What age children should be included? The material is recommended for kindergarten through 6th grade.
5. How many children can be included? The number of children you invite should take into account the number of helpers you have and the size of your yard and/or home. A recommended ratio would be one adult for every six-to-eight children. The younger the children, the smaller the adult/child ration should be.
6. What does a typical session look like?
- Opening activity
- 30-minute interactive lesson
- Application discussion done in smaller groups that may be separated into age groupings
- Additional activities: Games, crafts, songs, snacks, etc.
7. What roles (people) are needed for hosting a Backyard Bible Club? For each session you will need people to assume one or more of the following roles:
- A host to provide the location
- A teacher who prepares and presents the Bible lesson
- Adults to facilitate small group discussion
- Volunteers to prepare and help with additional activities
We strongly suggest the above be done by a committed team of people working together. This may be one or more families working together, a small group from church, etc.
8. Is there any outreach to the parents of the children or any other follow-up with the children? Each day a parent take-home sheet is provided giving a brief summary of the lesson, the memory verse, and something to think about. Also, we strongly recommend that you (and your church) consider giving each child a Bible or other Bible resource to take home. The Making HIM Known series includes family-friendly resources that would introduce parents and children to some basic truths of the Christian faith.
9. Is conversion the goal of the Backyard Bible Club? The goal is to introduce children to spiritual truth and provide an opening for ongoing spiritual discussion with children and their parents. Each of our BYBC curricula present essential Gospel truths and encourage children toward a right, genuine response to those truths. However, we do not overly press children toward a profession of trust in Christ. Rather, we emphasize planting seeds of the Gospel, praying that the Holy Spirit would bring about the fruit of faith in the lives of the children, and pursuing an ongoing relationship with the children and their parents.
10. How can the church help facilitate Backyard Bible Clubs?
- Communicate the vision behind the BYBC strategy. Ideally, this should be done early in late winter or early spring to give your members time to understand and embrace the vision.
Equip and train those who want to participate in a BYBC.
- Provide all the necessary curriculum components.
- Offer practical training in how to host a BYBC and effectively use the materials.
- Facilitate and coordinate networking, matching volunteers with their desired roles.
- If possible, offer financial assistance for any additional costs associated with activities, snacks, crafts, etc.
- Consider providing a Bible resource for the BYBC hosts to give to the children who will be participating.
- Commit to praying for each BYBC as it occurs.