WaterMark Church in Orange Park rethinks its VBS strategy

Kids attending WaterMark Church's soccer camp last year also had the chance to hear the Gospel.As tried and true as Vacation Bible School is, sometimes shaking things up a bit can yield unexpected Gospel fruit.

At least that’s what Tim Larson, lead pastor of WaterMark Church in Orange Park, was hoping when his church decided to host a soccer camp instead of VBS.

Tim described the church’s strategy to me in a conversation we had recently. His passion to reach his community, especially people with no church background, compelled him to rethink traditional outreach methods like VBS.

I have to admit—the concept was intriguing.

Fearing unchurched people wouldn’t be as likely to drop off their kids for VBS as they might for a sporting activity, WaterMark leadership decided to engage the entire family with a soccer camp. Larson figured parents would be more likely to stick around and watch their kids strut their stuff on the soccer field; that, in turn, would give church members the opportunity to meet them and strike up a conversation.

But it wasn't all soccer and no Savior. When the kids took a break to cool down and rehydrate, VBS missionaries stood at the ready to share lessons and stories that children at a traditional VBS are hearing.

The strategy has given WaterMark members the opportunity to reach people they likely never would have had the chance to meet otherwise.

Now, Tim tells me soccer may have—pun intended—run its course. The church is entertaining new ideas to connect with people who need to connect to Jesus.

Basketball, anyone?

If you’d like to hear more about how WaterMark is reaching the unchurched in Orange Park, you’re going to want to check out our more in-depth story in our May print edition.

Nicole Kalil is the Jacksonville-based reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness, the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention.

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