Last week the VBS leadership had to make a decision that proved unpopular to at least three people. I am sure others felt disappointed but never told us as these families did.
The leadership decided to close registration for our Jr. Mission program at 30 kids on the second night. As a result, we turned away three families and told those attending not to bring any of their friends.
At first glance, this might sound crazy. The Church should never turn people away. We should put together every program for anyone who shows up. Today I want to take you a little deeper into the events preceding this decision to close the group.
First, six months before VBS we publicly stated the date we had chosen and the time that everything would happen in 2017. Then we began asking for volunteers to help with each area.
Second, we had four volunteers to lead our Jr. Mission program. There were at least six other people asked personally, and all of them declined for various reasons.
Third, we looked at the attendance from previous years and knew that we had never had over 28 youth registered in any previous year. Praying that God would give a few new faces this year the plan was put together for 30 Jr. High students to participate.
Fourth, a decision was made not to place the Jr. High group on any of our advertising. This group would primarily focus on developing the students of our Church and not be a community outreach program.
Fifth, all details were put in place by our four volunteers. This meant that each person involved would need a background check on themselves. Since our Jr. Mission group is focused on leaving our Church facility and serving in the community we also needed to secure locations to serve. This also reaffirmed our decision to plan for 30 kids because most places cannot accommodate that many young servants at one time. Finally, rides for all 30 had to be prepared for each night of travel.
Sixth, we opened up online registration. Again you need to know that this group was not advertised but was only known through word of mouth based on previous years. All total we had ten children signed up going into the first night.
Seventh, then the Jr. High students arrived. 26 total on the first night. A deep sigh of relief and forward they went. The second night more students came, and we hit 30 total immediately. Remember that we only had rides for 30 students to leave campus along with only four volunteers. A quick meeting and the decision was made to close the group. We had to turn three students away and felt unsure of doing it but knew the situation was beyond our control.
Eighth, people started texting, calling and emailing their suggestions on how to open the group up for more kids. This is where it gets more complicated. We did not just need more rides and drivers. We needed background checks for safety. We needed insured and inspected vehicles. We also did not have the room for them to serve at any of our planned locations. The plans were made for 30 total kids months before. The leadership simply did not plan on filling all of those spots so quickly since we had no advertising.
Ninth, after several conversations we decided to keep registration closed and leave it at 30. It was not an easy decision, but it was the best for our volunteers and the group that had already signed up. We all agree that we should have made the limitations public before the first night. Numerous events have limits on numbers, and that is just how some events work. Honestly, we had no idea this would be an issue based on previous years and previous registrations.
Finally, I want to be honest and straightforward here. If you had an issue with the way it was handled, I am sorry. Know that the best solution is to sign up and help next year. Numerous people were asked to serve in this area, and they declined. When an event is being planned, help at the last second is no real help at all.
I hate that some kids were not allowed to be a part of such a great week. It was not a total momentary decision. It was the result of six months of planning and preparing. Next year we will be better prepared and handle it better.
I do want to say thank you to all those who did volunteer and lead this group. Thanks for your kindness, patience, and service. Those 30 Jr. High students were blessed and thanks to people like you, these young people saw the light of Christ.