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Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School is a treasured summer event that requires a considerable amount of preparation, planning, and prayer. To help churches ensure that VBS is an enriching time of spiritual nurture and summer fun for all who participate, here are some questions to consider, curriculum options, helpful hints, and mission emphases from Rev. Michelle Foster, conference Family Ministries coordinator.

 


QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

  1. When and where will your VBS be held?
  2. Will it be held during the day or in the evening? What time frame?
  3. Will your church be partnering with another congregation or community center for VBS?
  4. Who will be invited to participate? (Church people only? Open to the community? Children only? All ages?)      
  5. Who in your congregation(s) will be leading this ministry? (Is it only one person or a team?)
  6. How will you engage in Safe Sanctuaries practices throughout VBS?


SOME CURRICULUM OPTIONS

BEACH PARTY by Cokesbury
Summer just isn�t summer without the beach�and surfing! Picking up on this theme, Cokesbury�s VBS focuses on some of the lesser known stories of the Bible and incorporates them into the lives of children through creative exploration (beachcombing), games, storytelling, music, and missions.

 

 Points to consider:

� Easy theme to decorate and will easily generate lots of excitement

� Has an adult component that may stimulate family conversations

� Can be adapted for churches of all different sizes and configurations

� Set up in workshop format

� Music CD also has PowerPoint slides

 


JERUSALEM MARKETPLACE by Group Publishing

Travel back to Bible times to see the way people lived, taste the food of the culture, explore new traditions, and unearth the talents of early artisans. Written for preschoolers through adults, this Bible school is designed to bring everyone in the church and community together. 

 

Points to consider:

� Provides an educational component  for learners at all levels

� Could work well in partnership with other local churches

� Encourages participation by people of all ages

� Has an adult component that may stimulate conversations for families

� May take a bit more work and set-up than previous Bible schools

� Set up in a workshop format



POWER LAB by Group Publishing

Using fun, science-themed experiments and opportunities for engagement, your children will be thrilled to be a part of this year�s Vacation Bible School. The delighted smiles...the memorable Bible points ... the joy of learning through hands-on activity all add up to making a life-long difference in the lives of your children.

 

Points to consider:

� Cultivates and nurtures a love for science

� Can be used in any size VBS

� Does not have an adult component or family piece

� Hands-on activities really engage students in the experiments

 


WALK IT OUT! by Cokesbury/Abingdon
Walking, marching, and dancing have been crucial to gaining understanding, effecting change and moving forward in faith, in self, in community, and in God throughout our history. Building on this rich heritage, children are invited to walk, march, and dance their way through VBS. 

 

Points to consider:

� Has an adult component that may stimulate conversations for families 

� Makes a deep connection between social action and personal piety

� Music incorporates freedom songs and contemporary music

� Instructional music and movement video is available

� Encourages people to move from local church into local community

 

Learn more about these curricula and others or order resources online through Cokesbury's VBS Showcase.

 


SOME HELPFUL HINTS 

  1. Talk to other churches in your community. If others are doing the same VBS, plan to share decorations, curriculum, etc.
  2. Consider the cost. Some churches charge a small registration fee for VBS to off-set the cost of craft materials, t-shirts, curriculum, decorations, and take-home goodies. Other churches build these costs into their ministry budget or ask for donations from the congregation. How will you respond if someone wants to participate but is unable to pay?  
  3. Consider doing pre-registration. Offer a two-to-three week pre-registration period at least one month before VBS begins.  Though this will not give you a precise number of people to prepare for, it will give you a strong indication of the number of people to anticipate. Using this number as a baseline, you are better able to estimate how many supplies you will need for crafts, what types of room set-up and configurations you will need to arrange, and the number of adult leaders needed in addition to those who are supervising particular aspects of VBS. 
  4. Involve the community in creative ways. Try these ideas:

BEACH PARTY

  • Invite a lifeguard to come in and talk with children about water safety or the purpose of various equipment
  • Team up with a local pool to offer discounted swimming lessons to children that participate in VBS    

JERUSALEM MARKETPLACE

  • Invite a rabbi to come and share in the Biblical readings for each day
  • Find those in your community who have traveled to Jerusalem to share stories and treasures from their journey

POWER LAB

  • Who are the scientists among your community? Scientists can be found in nearly every field. Extend an invitation to come and share their work. 
  • Involve the congregation in experiments of your own: what happens to food that is not eaten and thrown in the trash? (This question might lead the church to start its own compost center.) 

WALK IT OUT!

  • Have a dance troupe come in and perform or engage your congregation in dancing (consider line dancing or square dancing)
  • Invite your congregation to set a step goal and provide pedometers for every person. Have a huge dance and celebration when the goal is reached!      


MISSION EMPHASES FOR VBS

Habitat for Humanity International's "Under Construction" VBS materials apply real-world principles of faith to building the future.

Heifer International's "Animal Crackers" resources for children, youth, and adults focus on world hunger.

Society of St. Andrew provides free materials to use during VBS to educate youngsters about hunger in America and what we can do about it, including raising money through a VBS mission project. Learn more or order materials online on SoSA's VBS page.


TELL US ABOUT YOUR VBS

We would love to hear your stories of VBS and the creative ways you engage in ministry in your local community. Contact Foster at michelle@mississippi-umc.org or 601.354.0515 ext. 28.