Backyard Bible Club

By NAMB Staff

As the final bell rings and schools let out for the summer, we, as Christians, are presented with unique opportunities to share the gospel with our neighbors. An evangelistic Backyard Bible Club is a classic, summer staple. Work in partnership with your church, decide on a place and when to meet, recruit volunteers, and develop a plan. As you plan and prepare to launch a club in your neighborhood, take note of these five guiding principles.

  1. Know Your Neighborhood

Like a missionary studying the culture of an international field, you should learn the rhythm and makeup of your neighborhood. Think through the following factors:

  • What’s the age range of the kids on the street?
  • Are they primarily boys or girls, or is there a good mix?
  • Is there a part of the day where all the kids seem to be moping and kicking pinecones around or a time when the entire street is down for a nap or busy grinding out chores?
  • Is a decent lunch not always a guarantee?

Think about what needs you can meet and what gaps you can fill. If your Backyard Bible Club serves parents in a tangible way, they are more likely to send their kids. Observe how your neighborhood works, and plan your Backyard Bible Club accordingly.

  1. Be Known in Your Neighborhood

Don’t be a stranger! Parents are rightfully wary of entrusting their kids to people they don’t know well. If you have never had a presence on your street before, no one will send their kid to your home, and rightfully so! Before you begin promoting your club, build relational capital with your neighbors. Strive to get on a first-name basis with as many people as possible. When you drive down the street, wave to joggers and dog walkers. Participate in the block parties and the HOA meetings—welcome move-ins with a casserole. In short, be neighborly.

And, as you begin promoting your Backyard Bible Club, be as accessible as possible. Give your phone number to parents dropping off their kids. Answer any questions. Let them stay and observe or even help. Earn trust through transparency.

  1. Actually, Be Fun

Don’t recruit volunteers who have a dour demeanor (the eternal scowl). Everyone has met a children’s ministry volunteer who has all the tenderness of a drill sergeant.

Your Backyard Bible Club should be the place the kids want to be. That means there should be laughing, screaming, shouting, and absolutely zero shushing. Employ glitter. Get them in the dirt. Do arts and crafts. Do goofy games. Think screen-free. Think high-energy. Think Vitamin D-drenched time in the sun.

Your goal is to send the kids home a complete, utterly exhausted mess but with a heart that is seeking or starting to seek after Jesus.

  1. Be Intentional in Your Sharing

Having serious fun is serious work because it opens the door to the most important task of all: sharing the gospel.

As you plan, consider the genuine concerns of the children in your club:

  • They’re afraid of the dark.
  • They don’t understand why Mom and Dad fight.
  • They might not know from where their next meal will come.
  • They know it was wrong when they lied or hit their sibling, but they don’t know what to do with the guilt and the shame that flooded in afterward.
  • They can sense that not all is as it should be.

The kids at your Backyard Bible Club experience brokenness in their world and in their own lives. Open your Bible and tell them about the Jesus that lovingly beckoned children to His knee. Share with them about the victory on the cross and the hope that springs from the empty tomb. Use skits, puppets, or dramatic retellings, but whatever story you tell and however you tell it, make sure the kids hear the gospel and are invited to respond.

  1. Widen Your Scope

For your Backyard Bible Club, the ends are also the means. Your purpose is to introduce the children of your neighborhood to the hope of the gospel. By investing in kids, you’re investing in their families, and that investment opens doors. Continue to build relationships with parents. Consider inviting them to an upcoming event at your church, like a Vacation Bible School or a summer block party.

But remember, the real work happens in plain, old, everyday interactions. As you go for an after-dinner walk or converse over a shared fence, ask the Lord to give you opportunities to share the gospel, and when He sends them, seize the moment. Continue to sow, water, and pray that the Lord gives the growth.

Published April 24, 2024