Just got an email from a reader with some great questions about our VBS alternative Summer programs. I thought I’d repost her questions and my answers in case anyone else was wondering the same things!
Q) Overall, how did the programs go?
A) Story time in the park was GREAT. It was so exciting to see the same families week after week and start to develop relationships. I was especially encouraged when I started seeing those families in other places: the library, the grocery store, the fourth of July parade. It gave them a chance to see that “these church people” were real people who were doing mostly the same things they were. There were no “spiritual” conversations, but I felt like we finally got out in the community. Our church mostly does things “inside our four walls”, so it was nice to actually get out a bit!
Story time at the church didn’t really take off. Our regular kids of course still came, and the occasional friend, but no one from the community. Still, I thought it was good for our church kids to hear “The Big Story” of the Bible. Admittedly, I did not put my full effort into this program, being very pregnant at the time (my son was born on July 21, right in the middle of all the summer programs), so perhaps with a little more concentrated advertising, it would have taken off better.
We are planning on doing a Winter story time at the church, the same time the park story time was, Monday’s at 10AM. We hope to reach the “stay-at-home-mom” crowd again and perhaps bring the park story time people one step closer to becoming part of the body of Christ. One thing we should have done was take names/emails/addresses during the summer to let people know about other upcoming events. We wanted to be non-threatening, so we didn’t do registration or anything, but a voluntary sign up sheet would have been a good idea. We did hand out literature, so hopefully they will check the website once in awhile and come to another event.
Movie Nights… well, it seemed like such a good idea at the time. By the time you buy the licenses and go through that whole headache, it is a sizable budget for a experimental program. We had a projector and borrowed a screen, so that helped, but we still used up around $800 ($200 a movie!) to show the flicks. We had to wait till dark to show the films, so they didn’t start until around 9PM. I don’t know if that was TOO late for families with young children, people were just busy, there wasn’t good “word of mouth” or what, but even our own church families didn’t show up. The most popular night was the 1st movie and that drew around 20 people. We did have a few visitors and a couple people who saw the screen and came on in, but not really worth the huge budget.
Now, onto your other questions:
Q) Did you develop your own curriculum for The BIG STORY? Or did you use a guided program? Or other resources (other than the obvious, Bible)?
A) I mostly developed my own “curriculum” drawing on resources from all over the web. I picked “the big stories” (some of kids had never even heard the story of David and Goliath!) using the Read and Share Bible and My Awesome God Bible as a guideline. Once I picked out the stories, I googled for activities, crafts, etc. Ministry to Children is very helpful, and I bet Pinterest would be great for something like this (I didn’t know about it at the time). I posted some ideas here.
Q)Did parents participate with their kids during the BIG STORY?
A)Parents did not participate. We invited them to, but no takers. We have not really established a “parents are always welcome” culture just yet. That’s something we will really be pushing this year, so maybe that will increase participation next year.
Q)What movies did you use for your Movie Nights?
A)Despicable Me, Ramona and Beezus, The Black Stallion, Doug’s 1st Movie, and Bringing up Bobby
Q) What other books did you use for the Story Time in the Park? Could you share any of the resources you used?
A) There are a few “Hubpages” that give great ideas for story time books and activities (including this one about starting a story time). Again, google was my friend. Try to keep it really simple if you do a craft — since the kids can be really young. For example, if you read “If You Give a Pig a Pancake”, have the kids color a picture of a pig, or color a picture of pancakes, or cut out a pig nose and glue it on. We did paint for a few weeks, and parents weren’t especially appreciative. Our park had a great playground, so sometimes kids would make crafts, leave them to dry, play on the playground and come back in 30 minutes or so. Also, Mommy and Me Book Club has soon good ideas.
Q)What was the reaction from your congregation? And volunteers involved?
A) The congregation seemed very supportive, but I was a little surprised at the volunteer turn-out. We usually get around 30 volunteers for VBS, and for these events, we probably got 6 volunteers across the board and they were the “same 20% who do 80% of the work”. At least with VBS, we get some new people in the mix. Perhaps it was the timing — if people work, they couldn’t help during the day, and who wants to volunteer on Friday night in the Summer? Hmmmm… so, that’s something to think about for next year.
Hope it helps!!!
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