For the past couple of summers, I’ve had the privilege of working in a Backyard Kids Club (BKC) associated with Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Tennessee. This particular BKC is hosted and led by a very dear friend of mine, Vicki Hulsey, who also happens to be My Kids Ministry Hero!
Vicki is the Childhood Ministry Specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, but more importantly, she’s a Sunday School Teacher and as I said, hosts one of the best BKCs I’ve ever known.
I asked Vicki to share about her BKC to give you an idea of just how great they can be for your church!
1. Why did your church choose to start Backyard Kids Clubs (BKCs)?
In 2008 the Hermitage Hills church staff was planning around a building program that would begin in 2009. With construction going on, there would not be enough space for VBS on the church campus. Although the building program was canceled, the staff decided to go ahead and “take VBS to the streets” after seeing the results of research. In 2008 Hermitage Hills was drawing about 900 to its annual week-long VBS with less than 100 who were unchurched. Those totals stayed almost the same for the previous four years. Yet, they discovered thousands of children in the community were not attending VBS at any church.
The results of that first year of BKC were phenomenal and we have not looked back. 2012 marks year four of taking VBS to the community. We still have one more club to go for this summer, but in 2011, Hermitage Hills saw 768 children attending 11 BKCs. About 45 percent of the children were unchurched…big difference from when we were on the church campus.
2. How many kids have attended?
For my neighborhood…2009 – 12 kids; 2010 – 22 kids; 2011 – 40 kids; 2012 – 48 kids (Quadrupled since the first year!)
3. Have any BKC kids made decisions for Christ?
In 2011, 27 children made professions of faith during that week from the 11 BKCs. Those numbers often increase during the year. I know of six children from my BKC who made professions of faith during this past year.
4. Have any families attend your church as a result of BKC?
I know of at least eight families who have visited my church as a result of BKC.
5. How have you (or your church) connected BKC back to the church?
We try to connect BKC families to the church by making them aware of other opportunities through the church, i.e. camp, sports, Sunday School, activities.
6. In what other ways do you connect with your neighborhood kids? Follow-up, extra events, etc.
We’ve found a real key is to continue relationships with the kids and families throughout the year. Some of the ways we’ve done that is by holding two additional days of BKC in July, a fall festival, a Christmas party and a Valentine’s party.
One of the reasons I believe that Vicki’s BKC has been so successful these past years is because she builds relationships with these kids and their families all year long. It’s not over on the last day of BKC. In addition to the extra events that Vicki holds with her BKC during the year, I overheard her the last night of BKC telling many of the children that she’d look forward to seeing them more this summer. She even keeps popsicles on hand for when the parents and kids want to just drop by! I know she’s had some of the kids pop over and bring a friend with them to meet "Miss Vicki!" She shows a genuine love for each and every one. I’ve watched her as she speaks to them and to their parents about what’s going on in their lives. I’ve watched her get excited as she talks with other teachers from her church encouraging them to follow up. I’ve watched her tear up as she shares blessings and prayer requests for the kids who are part of her BKC.
Vicki knows the real reason why she does what she does! And now you know why Vicki is my Kids Ministry Hero!