You’re planning on doing something new and different this year. You want to put together your own kids’ crusade instead of running a VBS. Now your mind is filled with questions. Where do I start? What should I teach? When should I run it?
In most cases, the differences between a VBS and a Kids’ Crusade are much like the differences between Sunday School and Children’s Church. Typically, your VBS program involves many teachers teaching individual age groups, lots of crafts and snacks, and an educational foundation of Scripture. Your typical Kids’ Crusade utilizes less hands-on workers, few – if any – crafts or snacks, and focuses on an experiential time with God. Both can be extremely evangelistic in nature and both will provide wonderful opportunities for the community to visit your church. A VBS will usually be run during the morning hours while a Kids’ Crusade will be held in the evening.
If at all possible, a church should attempt to offer both. I know it’s a lot of work, but winning souls isn’t an easy task. Many churches will run their own VBS, but have a Children’s Evangelist conduct the services for a crusade. However, if you want to run your own crusade, there are some unique things to keep in mind.
I prefer to begin with a theme. Here I’m talking about an over all theme. It could center around almost anything. Racing, circus, sailing, western, space, medieval, and tropical are just a few ideas. What would you enjoy doing? What kinds of resources for decorating are available? Let’s consider a tropical theme. Most party stores or places like Oriental Trading Co. will have paper palm trees, hula skirts, coconuts, fishing nets, stuffed parrots, and other tropical themed supplies for you to choose from. That seems fairly easy. How about putting some meat on these bones? Let’s say you’re considering four evenings of service, Sunday through Wednesday. A good place to start on Sunday night is with salvation. Monday you may want to talk about resisting temptation or peer pressure or prayer. Tuesday night offers itself well to witnessing, character, or personal devotions. When Wednesday rolls around, you can expect the largest night in attendance as you have built up through the week. Be sure that a salvation message is included for all the parents, etc. who are here for the last night. You can also focus on faithfulness to what you’ve discussed throughout the week. Now, I realize that these are some basic topics, but I’m trying to keep in mind that this article is for those who are putting the crusade together for the first time.
Now that you have an overall theme, a service format, and topics for each night, you’ll want to develop the services. I will usually write many of the segments such as the ventriloquist routine myself. But I always surround myself with resources for ideas. Grab a couple of object lesson books, trick cartooning books, ballooning books, puppet script books and CDs and begin putting together the segments for the service. Remember that if you’re only putting together segments, then that is exactly how it will be presented unless you spend time in prayer over this. Actually, you need to be praying all the way through the process so far. Before you know it, you’ll have everything laid out and be ready to go.
Here are a few other details to consider. Kids like prizes. So have plenty of opportunities for them to receive them. Have a visitor contest. Have prizes for those who help you during the service. Have secret seat prizes. Have prizes for no reason at all – the Surprise Prize!
When you’re running contests, you can often go to one of those Mart stores and purchase several items. Let the contest winners choose from a large selection of prizes and then return the ones you didn’t need or use. This is also good in case you have a tie in the contest. (Keep your receipt.)
Some places like to spice up each night with something extra like having the kids wear the most unusual hat, or dressing western, or wearing their dad’s ugliest tie.
© by Gary R. Linn
Children’s Ministry Today