“Shoot the dog.” “Ride the pony.” “Feed the tiger.” Those three phrases are applied in our evaluation process. All of our labors as a church seek to connect the Gospel of salvation with precious souls, both with pre-evangelism (building relationships with those with whom we do not have relationships) as well as direct evangelism (actual witness of the Word). If an effort isn’t doing that, we shoot the dog; thank the Lord for the Kingdom usefulness of a program and then move on. If an effort needs more time and attention to become stronger, we ride the pony. If an effort seems to be working well, we feed the tiger with the resources and attention it needs.
After observing for a few years in a row that our traditional VBS approach, at least in our community anyway, was dwindling, we shot the dog. VBS was replaced with: Bible Soccer Camp (BSC), a VBS without the crafts. Leveled soccer sessions, emphasizing skills teaching with some competition, replaced the crafts, but kept the devotions, Bible time, songs, and snacks. More kids, more parents, more contact with the Gospel.
A variation on that theme was tried this summer with a Bible Karate Camp (BKC). Travis of Dojo Karate of Rogers was already a friend of Redeeming Grace through our preschool. When I unfolded the idea of BKC to Travis, he immediately agreed. He offered to supply free uniforms and about 50 minutes of karate instruction, working with the kids, each day. As with BSC, BKC was held four mornings in a week and on the fourth day folks were invited to return for an ice cream social for a review of the camp’s theme and lessons, a karate demonstration, and the awarding of karate belts.
Vicar Josh Mayer said, “The kids had fun. We taught them about God’s Great Rescue (lessons on four of the Judges). And they learned something new and neat: karate.” Bridges were built. The Gospel was witnessed.
Leading up to the BKC in August were June and July distributions of invitations and information about the BSC and BKC through the Rockin’ Rogers Parade, multiple canvasses in multiple areas, a booth at the local Farmers’ Market, as well as, through invitations by members in their particular neighborhoods.