Many churches ask,
How can we show the love of Christ to our community in a meaningful way?
Our church was no exception. We did not want to guess at the needs of our community, so we decided to get out there and ask the people.
An almost unanimous theme arose from among those interviews – children need help! What developed was an idea for a kids’ summer enrichment program to assist them in their return to school. But how could we possibly implement another program when our church was already stretched thin in regards to monies and recruiting summer volunteers was so challenging? Holding another program in addition to VBS was simply “too much.”
In evaluating VBS, we were reminded that VBS was supposed to reach un-churched kids in our community. After reviewing how many children fit into that category, we realized it was basically next to zero. We came to the conclusion that our VBS’ were self-serving; cost a great deal of money; were huge, complex undertakings; and required a tremendous amount of volunteers. There had to be a simpler, more effective way.
After much prayer and pro-versus-con lists, I made the “executive” decision – there would be no VBS that summer (2008). We would put our meager resources towards a VBS alternative – one I entitled L.E.A.P. Frog (Learning Enrichment & Activity Program).
Maybe you ask, “How can a children’s enrichment program further God’s Kingdom?” In a word – connection. This gives us (the church) the opportunity to intentionally connect with our community’s children and their parents – opening avenues of communication. It gives us the opportunity to come alongside our local schools. It puts our Christian love and faith into action.
L.E.A.P. Frog has proven to be a successful alternative to VBS – one that has brought entire families to Christ, sparked a passion for our community and helped us all “grow up” in Him just a little bit more. It is my sincere prayer that God will use L.E.A.P. Frog to reach your community, whether your church is large or small, urban or rural.
Rev. Renee E. Leslie has been the Children’s Pastor at North Lakeport Wesleyan Church (Michigan) since 2005. She and her husband, Fred, have been married 37 yrs., have four grown daughters and (thus far) four grandchildren.