My first experience with Rock the Block (RTB) can only be labeled as exceptionally unexpected. We were in the first year of our Small Group’s existence, and we organized our inaugural RTB week in epic fashion. We had an awesome location. We had great games, fun crafts, and tasty treats. We even had a special take-no-prisoners style water day surprise. We had everything we needed for an amazing week — except one minor detail: someone willing to teach a large group of children (60+ expected) for five evenings straight.
I thought to myself,
“Hey, I’m an IT nerd, never taught a day in my life, let alone Scripture. I’m shy, and I don’t like crowds — yeah I got this!!!”
My previous experience with Bible clubs was tainted slightly with visions of Scripture memory boot camps, name-the saint contests, or Hail Mary marathons. (Yes, I was raised Catholic.) RTB is so different from all other Bible clubs though — simply because of the organic, grassroots effort displayed through so many families stepping up and saying, “I can do this.”
So, with zero confidence in myself, even less from my wife, and laughter from my parents, I volunteered to teach all five nights. And you know what happened next? My Small Group fully supported me, and it went great. While I wish I could tell you it was earth-shattering and children were claiming Jesus as their Lord and Savior nightly, we did have fun, and all of the kids heard the gospel in ways they probably hadn’t expected.
RTB was first introduced at Brook Hills as a way to share the gospel by hosting your very own Vacation Bible School — except without the vacation or the school. What we soon discovered was that it’s more about displaying the gospel through biblical community by providing neighborhood children with a week of games, activities, and gospel lessons.
I vividly remember the night we did the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, which included a Dr. Seuss hat, Monopoly money, party beads, and an inflatable pig. Then, there’s the night we did the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, which involved a number of the kids in attendance enjoying acting out a traveler getting a beatdown and then being helped by an unexpected friend.
To be completely transparent, my motivation for involving our family in RTB was initially a selfish decision. I desired for my children to see how other families teach the gospel in their own homes — for them to see that it’s good to serve others and that their parents weren’t crazy. What is crazy is the excitement in their hearts. My wife would tell you that our two oldest, Audrey Kate and Cole, anticipate RTB year-round.
But the single most significant way RTB has impacted our family is that our children see and understand that having a servant heart can be a lot of fun. They’ve come not just to expect it, but to see it as something that the Lord naturally enables us to do, without feeling like it is an inconvenience or that it takes away from something else.
We’ve seen what began as roughly 14 families and a total child count that surpassed 40 become (five years later) a small community church with 27 families and 90+ children. We’ve always seen RTB as a way to reach other children in our community and to use the best resource we have to help accomplish that: our children.
Over the years, we’ve moved RTB to different neighborhoods, and last year we attempted to do something completely different. Our Small Group took RTB to Leeds Park and hosted it outside in a pavilion. The goal was to meet new folks, so we did, and it was a ton of fun.
This year, we’re going to attempt the same thing at Wald Park in Vestavia. One of the families in our group lives practically next-door and is really excited about reaching their neighborhood due to the cultural and social diversity there.
There are so many amazing stories from different Small Groups of how RTB has transformed neighborhoods to further the gospel — especially in culturally diverse areas. Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20 command each and every one of us to make disciples of all nations — and that includes our own.
RTB may seem like a fun week in the summer, but it’s also a highly effective tool at discipling Birmingham and surrounding communities.
You don’t have to have the best, most perfect house in the cul-de-sac. You don’t have to have the cleanest garage. You don’t have to have the biggest backyard. Yes, there will be bugs. It will be hot, humid, and sticky. Kids will spill their snacks, and ice cream will melt.
Yet, something else will make you forget all of that: seeing a huge group of kids hold hands in prayer, three year old's eyes light up during the lesson, and 10 year olds completely lock-in on the gospel you are teaching them. You witness kids of all ages singing (sometimes screaming), “The Fruit of the Spirit’s not a wa-ter-mel-on.” And when your hopefully huge turn-out doesn’t happen, or when water day comes early due to an Alabama summer monsoon, seeing your organizing team roll with it and still have the most fun is truly inspiring.
It’s God showing how He truly has this whole thing rigged.
Chris Amaro and his wife, Wendy, have been married 11 years and have four children: Audrey Kate (8), Cole (7), Jackson (2), and Lucy (1). They’ve attended Brook Hills for 14 years and have served in the preschool ministry since 2013.
To learn more about Rock the Block Summer 2018 or to sign-up for one, visit brookhills.org/rocktheblock.