The Arborists and the Hacks

Last November, my neighbors and I were horrified to come home to butchered shrubbery. Shrubs of all sizes had been decapitated, the top half of them taken off. As part of our homeowner’s fees, we pay landscapers to keep up our yards. I had a large shrub that had grown to be up close to my shoulders. It often grew out into the driveway and walkway. I’d asked many times for something to be done about it but was always told it was fine by the landscaping company standards. I’d eventually taken to buying an electric hedge trimmer to keep it out of the driveway and walkway and to keep me from growing over my head.

One day I walked out and my overgrown shrub was now at knee height. The top just taken off, in November….with months before anything would grow back. The now scraggly branches all exposed. The shrub now living and green on its bottom half and completely dead and broken on top. The ivy that was growing underneath it that was now completely exposed to the sun. That ivy will grow because ivy always grows.

Learning their lesson, the HOA company made sure to let us know when their would be arborists coming into the neighborhood to trim back the trees. They were fascinating to watch! The arborists would climb up into the trees with some kind of pulley system and would carefully cut away branches. They cut branches that were too low, some of the oldest branches. They cut branches from areas where the tree was unhealthy. They cut new branches from areas of the tree where new growth was overwhelming the tree.

I once had a conversation with an arborist years ago who worked for the power company. He spent his time removing trees from power lines but he said that what he loved about his work was keeping the integrity of the tree in tact. He considered it a success if he could cut back the tree in such a way that it was free from the power line and the power line was free from the tree without it being obvious the tree had been cut back. From my observation, to a true arborist the work is an art form.

It is no surprise that church leaders find themselves in the need of making tough decisions. Even our larger, thriving churches should be aware that as they add new ministries, others have to be cut back. Smaller churches already know that they no longer have the budget, the staff, the people to do what they once did. Leaders can approach these decisions two different ways.

If they go the route the landscaping company did, they wouldn’t do the needed maintenance along the way.  They could keep claiming everything is fine and wait until things are out of control to make the cuts. That’s what we often do, we blame hard decisions on the budget or lack of volunteers, making reactive decisions rather than planning ahead, making the tough decisions along the way. It can be easier to be reactive with our decisions but just like my shrub outside, it’s an eyesore. And remember the ivy? Unhealthy removal of one thing can lead to an unhealthy take over by something/someone else.

Leading like an arborist is an art form. It isn’t about waiting until things are out of control to make decisions. It includes cutting the oldest branches even when they seem healthy because it takes the resources away from the growth of others. It is cutting back in areas that are too crowded, even if they seem to be growing now because you know it cannot be sustained and growth cannot occur elsewhere. It is recognizing what is unhealthy and removing it. It is about climbing the tree and doing the hard work in the middle of it. It is done with a care that keeps the integrity of the shape of the tree. This method takes much more time but is done so the overall health and growth of the tree continues in the right directions.

Will you have the courage to be an arborist?

Abundant Life

In searching for the meaning of the word abundant online, I found a chart that maps the use of the word abundant in literature. While I cannot confirm its accuracy, it says that when abundant was at an all time high, around 1863 from my best reading of this chart, it was used in literature to describe agriculture, when speaking of faith, and in one article I found, to talk about butterflies. I find it fascinating and incredibly sad that we are at all time low for the use of the word abundant. The chart showed it is a world-wide epidemic; abundance is not a part of our commonly used vocabulary.

This week I read an article about Marrisa Mayer, the yahoo! ceo, who said in her early days at Google, she and her colleagues regularly worked 130 hours a week and slept at their desks. She said they would even schedule bathroom breaks for most efficiency and went on to say that she can now predict the success of start up companies by whether they are working these kinds of schedules.

We were supposed to have more than previous generations.  Our technology and world wide ways of doing things were supposed to lead to more abundance: abundance of money, time, energies, agriculture. When did we get to a world where we need to schedule bathroom breaks and sleep at desks in order to work enough to be successful? It seems to me that we need to redefine success and redefine abundance.

I think we define abundance as having everything we could think of. Unlimited finances, unlimited resosong-gimmiegimmieurces, unlimited time.

Do you remember Garfield and his dream in the opening of the Christmas special? John gave him this chair that when you sat in it and put the head piece on, it would give you anything you could dream of. We believe we should have that chair; that it should be given to us by God, by our country. And in our most honest parts, I think many times we believe that we are owed that chair. Anything that has limits is not abundant and when we focus on the limits, on what we do not have, on what is missing, our mindset becomes scarcity.

Parker Palmer said, “True abundance comes not to those intent on securing wealth, but to those who are willing to share a life of apparent scarcity. Those who seek well-being, who grasp for more than their share, will find life pinched and fearful. They will reap only the anxiety of needing more, and the fear that someday it will all be taken away.”

Too many of us are living lives that are pinched and fearful. We are so busy running from one thing to another, trying to do it all, feeling compelled to always do more with less, we wind up depleted. I had a coaching client, an incredibly talented, intelligent person, who would come to each call with a new time management tool.  She was just sure that this new tool was going to allow her to do everything she wanted to do, everything she felt she needed to do. Having everything was just out of reach and if she could just get herself organized enough, she could get reach it.

Too many churches are living lives that are pinched and fearful. I  have spoken with countless ministers whose biggest problem is helping their church to move from a mindset of scarcity.  They cannot see their assets, they can only see their deficits and their deficits cause them to focus inward. Thom Rainer says that the most common factor in declining churches is an inward focus. They believe there is not enough to give and so they focus on themselves, surviving, and how to make sure they are taken care of and how they can get more. We focus on the lack of volunteers to keep everything running, the lack of finances to have a big staff, the lack of being able to fund our buildings by ourselves. In each of these is the possibility to dream a new dream.

Abundance does not equal unlimited. Things may not be unlimited but they can still be abundant. We may not be abundant in the things we use to be abundant in. Perhaps we need to redefine abundance. What are the worlds greatest needs and where does that intersect with what we have to offer?  That is living in the spirit of true abundance.

Limits actually serve as great filters. In order to really say yes to some things, we have to say no to others. We have to make smart choices about what we agree to, what we say yes to, where our resources are used. We decide what is most important and we invest there. This is true for family, work, church and the gift of your talents to the world. We become clear about what is most important and we realize how many wonderful things we do have in this life. We focus on where we want to say yes and there we find abundance. We find an openness to this life that comes from feeling that we have more than enough.

For organizations, if you don’t have someone willing to lead something, let it go. It may be time for something entirely new to be birthed, or the same ministry may spring back to life in a new way. So many churches find themselves with the albatross of big buildings. Instead of looking at them as “our buildings”/”our churches”, what if we opened them up to others. Let go of some of the control and watched new ministries and non-profits being birthed in our spaces. Suddenly there could be more ministry happening than we could have ever done ourselves.

I think sometimes we don’t want to live in abundance. It is easier to feel that we have no time or money. We are victim to the world we live in. It takes work to make intentional choices. We are not able to please everyone. It is easier for an organization to focus on trivial matters, like the operations of the church kitchen, than to focus on letting it be used to do good in the world. Living in abundance is often messy and we are the ones responsible for discernment. It takes courage to move beyond being a victim of circumstance, focusing on what is not.

Jesus said in John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Are you living life all the way to full?  In a world that is driven by fear and negativity, let’s live as people with open hearts, open hands and bring the word abundant back into vogue.

 

Great Mentors

Today in Chapel Hill, NC, there will be a celebration of the life of Bob Phillips.  Bob served as the campus minister at UNC for thirty-four years . He passed away from cancer at the age of 76 on August 28. I have been grieving since learning of his death but am so glad that a few years ago I had the opportunity  to share with him just how much he meant to me personally and how much he influenced who I am today.

I had the incredible privilege of working with Bob for two years while I served as the campus ministry intern at UNC for the Baptist Student Union. I later had the privilege to be his colleague as I served as the Baptist Campus Minister at NC State and for the Raleigh area before his retirement.  Many times in ministry, I have reflected on how much I learned from my years with Bob. This morning I’d like to share a few of those nuggets with you and hope they encourage and challenge you as much as they have me.

  1. You have to have life outside of ministry. Bob had experienced some personal tragedy earlier in his ministry career because of the hours he poured into his early years of ministry. Until my position at UNC, ministry was always something I did in my free time. It did not have to have boundaries because it had natural boundaries. When ministry is what you do in your full time, there are no natural boundaries.  People will always want more, the organization will always expect more than is possible, and as another mentor once said, there will always be a great list of the unfinished in ministry hanging over your head. After long weeks of mission trips or weekends retreats ,he would always ask how was I going to take time off in the following weeks. He would encourage me to take time away from the building where I lived to really escape and recover. I didn’t always do well with boundaries while living at the Battle House (sadly, now the former BSU house at UNC) but in my first years of ministry, the permission he gave for recovery, and even insistence for it, were invaluable! I think many of us need permission to have boundaries in life. I tell coaching clients all the time, boundary work is the hardest work you do in life but it is the most important work. 
  2. You always need some kind of ministry outside of your full-time ministry.  You need it and the people you are working with need it. This is something I didn’t really get until later. He said that the students in our ministry needs pieces of the ministry they felt were their own, that neither of us were directly involved in. He needed expressions of his ministry that didn’t involve the students. Otherwise, those you are ministering to rely too heavily on you and you begin to see this ministry as your own and your identity becomes enmeshed in this one world. This piece of wisdom I have followed in every ministry position I’ve ever served in. Outside of my full-time positions I have served as a life and leadership coach, a church consultant, a three year old choir teacher, an undergraduate adjunct professor, participant and leader for Baptist Women in Ministry of NC, freelance writer, preschool Sunday school teacher, and the list could continue. With each one, I’ve learned about myself and gained a clearer view of the ministry I was working with full-time. It’s not always possible, but these other roles do not have to be over and above the hours you work committed to your full-time ministry role. You can give more completely and with better perspective when you are able to step outside your current role. None of us can be completely fulfilled and keep a healthy perspective when we focus on just one role in our lives. 
  3. Don’t take anything too personally. Most likely, people’s response to you says more about their personality than anything about you. Bob had a great understanding of Myers-Briggs and used that lens when looking at people. I’m now certified in another personality assessment, Workplace Big Five and I know that while I’d always loved personality assessments, he had great influence on helping me use personality to understand others and differentiate myself from other’s needs and reactions. Bob and I were incredibly different in personality but I always felt safe, not judged, and appreciated. Some leaders tend to be threatened by differences but Bob seemed to thrive on them, finding ways to work together. I don’t always take constructive criticism well but Bob had a gentle way of guiding me. I didn’t understand until later how much that spoke to his own strength and confidence and how guidance like that takes a great gift.
  4. So much of leadership happens outside of traditional office hours. So many times in ministry leadership, we fall prey to a culture that expects you to work traditional job hours behind a desk or in an office. If you are not available when they need you, you are doing something wrong. He once said to me later when I was serving as a campus minister myself, “They are not just paying you for the hours in the building. They are paying for the time you spend waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the ministry and students. They are paying you for the time you spend in the shower thinking through what needs to be done for the next event. They are paying you to relate to other organizations, run errands, etc.”  Any good leader realizes those are all part of the role as well. Boundaries can only be formed when you realize how boundaries are not always possible. As a campus minister, I had students who always expected me to be in the building whenever they stopped by. It didn’t matter how late I was going to be there at night, I needed to be there when they were done with their 8:00 class. It didn’t matter than my responsibilities included working with churches, being present on campus, etc. Later as a pastor I had church members that would call the church office promptly at 9:00 and wonder where I was. These were the same church members who would also check in with the home bound and “home bound on Sunday” to see how regularly I was visiting them. Good leadership does what needs to be done. Good leaders do their jobs with integrity while recognizing their own needs and the value of other relationships in their lives. Sometimes work happens in the shower when your thoughts are running wild and no one outside ministry will understand the burden you feel in those moments. It’s like a quote I once saw, “You cannot make everyone happy. You are not nutella.” 
  5. The state of our world affects people more than we realize. I had just started at UNC when 9-11 happened. I had been in divinity school classes all day and while I knew the basics, the first time I saw the images on TV was with a crowd of students that had gathered at the Battle House to watch and be comforted. There was a great sense of desperation on campus in the months that followed. Suicide and suicide attempts hit record numbers. Students did not know how to process how this made them feel. Bob compared the desperation he saw to the culture when the Vietnam War started. As he helped me to name the panic our country was experiencing, he helped me to love students by knowing how to name that for them. Recently while teaching leaders for young adults I talked about this season, comparing it to the current season in the country and in the world. Our students, and adults in our congregations, are experiencing this level of panic, anger, fear and desperation in our world and one of our roles as their leaders is to help them name it. We help them to differentiate from the panic in the world where possible and then give them hope and peace by holding their hands through the rest. 

Bob, thank you for the gift of your leadership. Thank you for the ways your legacy lives on in me. Rest in peace.

In the Middle of the Change

I’m in the middle of change…which is often a hard and awkward place to be.

I’ve made some major changes for my health this year; working hard at the gym almost daily, changing my diet. And I’ve seen results. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and am enjoying health benefits like more energy and less headaches. I’ve lost 22 pounds.

The problem is that I feel like I’ve worked so hard but, because I have so much further to go, I’m easily overwhelmed. I have so much further to go that it’s hard for others to notice what I’ve already done. I feel tired form the work I’ve done and, on my not so determined days, daunted by the work that lies ahead. On those days I lose site of where I was and can only see how far I have to go. Change comes in fits and spurts sometimes and the results are not always easy to see.

Change is hard work. While going through some significant personal change at earlier stage in life,  I told my coach I felt like I was just leaping in the air, choosing the leave the ground behind me where I no longer wanted to be but not sure where I was going to land. I also knew that I still had so much work to do that it would awhile before I landed anywhere and when I landed, it would not look familiar. I was tired from the work and from all of the unfamiliar.

My coach very seriously asked, “Do you want to go back? Do you want to stop moving forward?” I quickly said, “No!” and then as I reflected longer, “I can’t go back. Knowing what’s possible now, I can’t go back. That place doesn’t really exist anymore.

Any significant change is hard and usually takes longer than we think it will. Whether it is personal change or an organization we are leading through change, the work has been so hard but there is still so far to go that sometimes you forget where you have come from. There is nothing familiar or comfortable around, nothing settled. You’ve left so much behind but you haven’t reached your final destination, and the final destination is so far into the future, you are not even sure what it looks like or when you will reach it. You are tired.

As the instigator or leader of change, you are more aware of how far you have come. You may feel more invested in it than others because you are living and breathing it and so the change may be more obvious to you at times than it to others. It is easy to be frustrated when others don’t seem to notice, don’t thank you, don’t congratulate you. In fact, when change affects others, people will often do whatever it takes to get the system back to a normal they understand. Often people are understanding of a certain amount of change, but too much time in the in between space and they begin to panic, wanting to go back to what they know. It is the Israelites in the desert all over again; we begin dreaming of what used to be just because what is “right now” is so unfamiliar.

It is also tempting to focus on what you are not, where you haven’t grown, what hasn’t changed, to the point that you become weary under the weight of it all. Sometime the hardest work is just pushing through. Sometimes the hardest work is just not giving up. Sometimes the greatest change happens simply because we are wandering or leaping into the air, not knowing where we will end up. The leaping, the wandering, the awkward become the hard work and somewhere along the way the change happens in small increments.

Choosing to stay this unknown path, day after day, past the point where it is easy or exciting, is where the change happens.

  • Ask yourself the question, “Do I/we want to go back? Do I/we want to stop? What are the implications if we stop?”
  • Remind yourself of what you have accomplished, even if progress feels like watching grass grow sometimes.
  • Celebrate where you have come, celebrate this awkward, in the middle place. What is great about right here?
  • Stay focused on the destination. Celebrate what is to come.

Lean it to the awkward and feel the frustration, feel all of it because it is a reminder something better lies ahead, just keep working hard and dreaming.

It’s About Not Losing

Earlier this summer, I found myself on a whirlwind tour of historical sites when my mother came to Richmond for a visit. I explored the Civil War battlefields of Appomattox and the site of General Lee’s surrender in Appomattox Court House (Which after much confusion, I learned was the name of that area/city, not an actual courthouse. Virginia is so confusing this way) We toured the Virginia capitol building as well. It is fascinating the spin that different historical experts will put on history. For example, the capitol tour told us that it was Lee’s words to his troops after surrender that helped to bring the nation back together, but at the Museum of the Confederacy and Appomattox Court House we learned that Lee didn’t even write the words he wrote/spoke to his troops, he literally had Colonel Charles Marshall put in his ambulance and guarded so that no one would bother him and the Colonel would not come out until he’d written the remarks.

Feeling inspired by all of this history, and realizing how little I really remember, I began reading, “The Quartet: Orchestrating The Second American Revolution” that recounts the history of how we became not just the states in America but the “United States” of America. In describing the early stages of Washington’s leadership, Ellis says, “It took him more than a year to gain control over his own aggressive instincts, which nearly proved a fatal liability…Eventually he realized that a defensive strategy…was the preferred course, even though it defied every fiber of his being. His seminal strategic insight, which seems obvious in retrospect, was that he did not need to win the war. The British needed to win.  He would win by not losing….”

Sometimes you cannot fix a situation, you only endure it. Sometimes you don’t need to win, you just need to not lose.

Too many times in our lives we don’t feel it is enough to just stand our ground, we want to lodge a full on frontal assault. We must win, taking no prisoners. But in the process of the battle, we lose more than we have to give.

Sometimes we have to quiet the part of us that wants to push everyone else off of the mountain, launch ourselves to the top and shout “I’m the king of the world” with hands outstretched.

Often it is more important to quiet our pride, and know that even though it may “def[y] every fiber of our being,” it is enough to just “not lose.”

Is Vacation Bible School Really Effective?

Vacation Bible School can be the best thing a church does all year long. All age groups coming together transforming the church around a particular theme, reaching out to the neighborhood, having grandchildren and those from the membership role you do not see much of throughout the year participating. For some churches, VBS is still one of the most important and well done events of the church year. But, the question I think more churches should be asking is “Should we still be doing Vacation Bible School?”

I have had two emails from different large churches near Richmond just this morning putting out desperate calls for volunteer leaders for their upcoming Vacation Bible School. As I have visited churches, I know that VBS is breaking some of our smaller churches. At one church after I had praised how great it was to see so many different volunteers helping, the childrens director lamented, “Yes, they love getting involved with VBS. I just wish I could get them to volunteer for other things throughout the year. This seems to tap out our volunteers for the year.” Others have lamented over the cost and pressure of such a production and feeling like their churches don’t have a clear purpose and understanding of why they are doing VBS.

For many of you the VBS train has already left the station for this summer. You’ve got your volunteers lined up (or at least some of them lined up) and publicity is already out. Here are some thoughts and questions though to consider this summer that can help you think ahead for the future. The best time to start asking good questions about VBS is in the middle of VBS this summer.

– Why are you doing VBS? The answer to that question should be more than, “Because we’ve always done it” or “We are Baptist, we have to do VBS.” If your purpose is to reach out to the neighborhood, how are you doing that? If your purpose is to reach families that are not connected to another church, does your attendance reflect that? If the reason you do VBS is to bring the church together in one project a year where everyone comes together, then maximize that. Plan opportunities for church members to really get to know each other. If you are continuing to do it so that grandparents have a way to connect their grandchildren to the church, then maximize on opportunities to train the grandparents for discipleship and use VBS as a launching pad for a discipleship relationship that continues.

If your desire is to reach children who are not connected to church and introduce them to Jesus, what is the best way to do that? I have seen some churches that just what to get as many decisions made during the week of VBS as possible. I feel that a better use of VBS is not to be so focused on “getting them saved” but to start a discipleship relationship with the kids. I know there are some who would disagree but what if we weren’t so concerned about the sinners’ prayer as we were about starting relationships that we can continue to foster? That is a lot harder, more time consuming and doesn’t make for an easy announcement from the pulpit but we know that people are more likely to continue to live in the faith if they are discipled, if they have a relationship with others who are mentoring them. I would argue that I’m not certain that a kid understands the decision being made during a one week Vacation Bible School. I believe we should come to see VBS be a starting point in a relationship with the child and with their families.

– Should you use youth as volunteer leaders? With the changing tides of culture, so many of our churches rely heavily on the involvement of youth leaders to make VBS work. I have seen this work incredibly well and seen youth unknowingly sabotage the work a church has put into VBS. Watch your youth critically this summer. Are they engaged with the kids or is this more about socializing with each other? Do they understand what you are asking them to do? Some youth just don’t know how to engage with children. You have to teach them how to sit among them, play games with them, jump in to help with crafts and recreation. This is true for our adult volunteers as well.

VBS can be a leadership training ground, an opportunity for youth to test their wings in leadership. But, is their wing testing hurting VBS?

– How can you change the way you do VBS to better meet the reality of your church? One church used to do a huge block party the weekend before VBS to invite the neighborhood. As adult volunteers began dwindling, they decided volunteers would be better utilized preparing and working VBS, so they stopped doing the block party. One church went to a weekend celebration of VBS because it was too difficult to get enough volunteers to come all week. One childrens’ minister searches for craft supplies at better prices online throughout the spring rather than paying so much to order it from the VBS publishing company.

You don’t have to buy everything that the VBS publishing company is selling. VBS is their big seller and so they are going to market to your church like crazy but you can make choices that allow you to make the most of your resources. What is creating the most strain on the resources of money and/or people, and how can you change VBS to adapt?

– What else could your church do instead of VBS? I am asked by smaller churches all the time about what else can they do instead of VBS. They feel like not only is it tapping all of their resources, they feel like just one of many churches doing the same thing. My reply is always, “Get Creative.” You are not going to find an alternative on the shelf of your local Christian bookstore or catalog. They make it easy to buy one box set because they make a lot of money.

Perhaps you could do a sports camp? Or an arts camp? Maybe a literacy or school skills type of camp? What if you offered a series of classes throughout the summer, parenting or cooking for example? What if you offered an intergenerational program where different age groups learning together and from each other?

Look around at what skills are already present in your church. Give people space to dream. There will always be those who want to keep doing things the same way they’ve always been done but you never know what could be birthed by dreaming new dreams. Look at what your community really needs? What do the young families and children inside and outside your church need?

I’ll be excited to hear about how some of you ask and answer these questions. My prayers are with you this summer as you minister to children and adults through VBS and seek the right future for these ministries of your church.

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School time is upon us. I went every summer as a kid, not only to our VBS, but to my best friends and even sometimes to my grandparents’ church. It always amazes me at how I can immediately recite the pledges we use to say in opening assembly. I remember sitting with my friends drinking Kool-Aid out of the tiniest cups and the little butter cookies you could put on your finger and eat.
The past two summers, I have traveled around the state of Virginia visiting some of our Baptist churches during their Vacation Bible Schools. Here are some of the ideas I have collected along the way that may be helpful in your planning:
* Share resources with other churches. While there are some copyright issues you want to investigate, I saw a lot of churches sharing their resources with one another, especially when it comes to decorations. One childrens’ minister said it was also helpful to spend a day visiting another church doing the same theme to see it in action. Churches shared volunteer resources as they helped each other put up and remove the decorations. Some areas have even gone to doing an area wide Vacation Bible School with other churches in the same area.

* Special Sixth Grade Class. For one church that does not include sixth graders into the youth ministry, VBS provides an opportunity to give them a view of things to come. They attend XBS (Extreme Bible School) which includes special activities and access to the youth room facilities during free time.

* Pastors Getting Involved. I saw pastors doing everything from dressing up in costume and taking on a Biblical character to doing crazy dance moves. It means so much to children and their families for the pastor to be so accessible and involved. It gives kids a great connection to the pastor as we want the kids and their families to continue in the future of the church. It is also great for connection with youth and young adults as the pastor serves along-side of them.

* Keep Connecting to Families. One church I visited states that there goal for VBS is to connect families in the community. They planned a family oriented event to be held in the weeks after VBS. As the children were leaving the week of VBS behind, the event gave the ministers a reason to contact and follow up with the parents and gave the families another opportunity to connect with the church.

*Be Organized. As a visitor, I was so impressed with churches that had walky talkies to communicate with other leaders, charts to show where each group was at all times and maps of the church. This was helpful for me as a visitor and I think would be comforting for any parent who is visiting your church. We forget sometimes that today, even in our smaller towns where we feel like we know everybody, it is a huge deal for people to trust us with their children! We need to do everything we can to show them up front that we take their child’s safety very seriously. Along these lines, think clearly about your check in and check out process. What are you doing to ensure that the right child goes home with the right parent/guardian?

* Utilize volunteer leaders from outside your church. This may not be a fit for your church but a few churches I’ve visited allow for non-church members volunteers from the community to help. I talked with one mother of three who were members of a small church in a nearby town. They loved their little church but she appreciated being able to volunteer in leadership and have her kids participate in a VBS to get a “big church” experience like she had as a kid. She said they while didn’t want to leave their small church, she sometimes she just really missed these kind of things from a big church.
What great ideas do you have for Vacation Bible School?