CORNELIA, Ga. (BP) — Years ago, Georgia Baptist Mission Board Next Gen Kids Ministry consultant Jenni Carter was part of an online training when a participant from California said something so simple and yet so groundbreaking.
If you want participation, make your audience the priority.
When Carter joined the Mission Board in 2013, there was a track for Hispanic churches in statewide Vacation Bible School training. But the advice made it clear that a specific event with training taught in Spanish could only increase its footprint.
Hispanic VBS training through the Mission Board began in 2017 and built steam that dissipated when COVID canceled those events in 2020. In 2021 the training was added back as a track.
Now as its own event, the desire for such a resource has become obvious. The 81 attendees (from three states) that showed up at Level Grove Baptist Church in Cornelia, Ga., April 29 pushed the number for the last two years to over 300.
“Before, they felt like they had a small part in the VBS training,” said Carter. “Now, it’s just for them. Watching the worship rally alone, held in their own heart language, makes a huge difference.”
Carter speaks very little in the actual training. She gives a three-sentence welcome in the only Spanish she knows before turning it over to Rossy Rivera, Natalie Hernandez and Glenda Torres, all pastors’ wives.
Carter is clear on the group’s importance to the training’s success.
“I couldn’t do it without them,” she said. “They are all very knowledgeable and passionate about it. No matter the size of the group, they get the energy high and are excellent leaders.”
Rivera is at Mar Dr. Galilea in Byron and Iglesia Vida Nueva in Vienna. Hernandez is a member of La Esparanza in Moultrie while Torres is a member of Victoria En Cristina in Riverdale. All are also active women’s ministry leaders in their churches and at the state level, Carter said.
Two churches, one in the northern part of the state and another in the south, host separate, single-day events. Worship begins at 9:30 before age-specific classes begin. Roundtable discussions address areas such as how to properly conduct drop-off and pickup for VBS attendees.
The most important parts of the training take place after lunch. The afternoon begins with specialized classes such as how to lead a child to pray for salvation in Christ and VBS promotion in the church as well as community.
Next, attendees break into small groups for a time of prayer for churches and their VBS. Then comes a final worship time and some door prizes.
Participants testify as to the training’s impact.
“They’re so grateful for it,” Carter said. “Last year as groups were walking out, a young girl came back to talk to us. Her mother had sent her back with a message.
“‘Thank you for offering this.’”