With a glimpse of warmer weather today, I’m finally starting to think of summer and of course, for many churches, that means Vacation Bible School! Our church doesn’t run a traditional VBS (read about that decision here), but I do love using VBS curriculum to shake things up a bit in the summer and bring some fresh energy to the program. I know the Vacation Bible School model is still hugely effective for many churches, so I wanted to be sure to share this incredible program with you.
If you are familiar at all with the Tru curriculum from David C. Cook (which I LOVE by the way), you’ll recognize a few terms like “Anticipate”, “Connect”, “Celebrate” and “Respond” in the God in Action VBS curriculum. If you’re already using Tru, it’s terrific to have this consistency in your summer program as well. However, if you’re not at all familiar with Tru, the format is still easy to use.
The thing that really stands out with this program is the push to run a decentralized, multisite, neighborhood-based VBS experience (referred to as simply the “Site Model” hereafter). Check out this terrific video from the God in Action program of 2013:
It’s not something that’s hugely popular right now, but I have to tell you, I love the concept. It totally reminds me of the backyard Bible club that I attended as a child and while I was skeptical at first about the viability of such an approach (won’t parents be creeped out), I am beginning to see how do-able it really is. It is a radical shift in the traditional VBS mode of thinking, but I believe it is change that is long overdue.
When you take look at the 5 day program, you’ll see that the Big God Story is laid out clearly and succinctly so that kids who might never step foot inside of a church will be able to hear how God made them, hopes to redeem them, and has a plan for their life. Very cool. The break-down goes like this:
- Day #1: GOD CREATED EVERYTHING (Genesis 1—3)
- Day #2: GOD FIGHTS FOR HIS PEOPLE (Exodus 5—12)
- Day #3: GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES (1 Samuel 16—17)
- Day #4 GOD SAVES (Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 22— 24)
- Day #5 GOD WANTS YOU TO BE A PART OF HIS STORY (Acts 9)
Stuff I Love
- Casting the Vision and Setting Expectations. Moving to a site-model program could be met with resistance from people in the church and this VBS curriculum does a great job equipping you as the director with ways to cast the vision, recruit key team members and set expectations so that program is a success.
- The Daily Supply List: I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty good about gathering all the stuff I need for VBS (or a big event) and throwing it in my office. However, when it comes to actually organizing it by day or specific area, I could use a little help! The daily list is perfect for this.
Yeah, it could use a little work.
- Reproducible documents including Child Registration Form, General Volunteer Application, FAQ’s, and Evaluations. Anything that helps me cross off something on my own to-do list is a winner!
- Small Group Questions. I love the “I wonder … what is your favorite part of creation?” style of questioning because it causes kids to really stop and think and it’s more than just the cursory regurgitation of information that often occurs in church.
- The Site Leader Guide is super detailed and breaks up the day’s activities well. The prescribed schedule is three hours including registration time with the kids and an hour of prep time before kids get there. It’s quite a bit of commitment, but certainly adaptions could be made if needed.
From what I’ve read so far, this looks like a biblically solid program and I love how the push is to really take Jesus to the streets. I would love to see more churches (including ours!) adopt this model of Vacation Bible School and this is the perfect program to get the ball rolling in that direction.
What Are Others Saying:
- Collie’s Review on Innovate Kids Blog
- Go Big! Tru VBS (Unpacking the Box) (my review of the 2013 VBS)
- Go Big 2013 by Trevor Lee
- Go Big Tru VBS (2013) by About the Children’s Department
- Children’s Ministry Magazine’s 2014 VBS Review
- Taking the Gospel Behind the Walls of Your Church