This summer will be the first year where Redeemer will actually have a building, and the question came about we would do for the children for summer time. The standard answer the past 50 years is quite simple: do a week long VBS. There is nothing wrong with that-nor there is nothing essentially right with that either. That's why some churches in our area have done soccer camps, and one of the oldest churches is even switching to a 4 Sunday afternoon approach this year. Churches are free to dream and free to fail. The gospel gives us that freedom. And in response to that freedom, here is what we plan to do: Summer Bible Bash.
Here's some reasons why we thought it was worth trying:
We wanted to do something that embraces two major components of how we teach and train our children: Family + Church Family.
With the standard VBS set-up, parents who are not serving usually stop, drop, and then shop. They drop the kids off, and then grocery shop. Nothing is inherently wrong with that, but it just doesn't adequately reflect how we desire to do ministry here. We want to equip and train parents to continue teaching their children. As a result, we have an adult bible study going on during the same time, over the same passage of scripture. Parents have the primary responsibility in teaching their kids. Not the only responsibility, but the primary according to Deuteronomy 6:6-8. So we wanted to construct a program that fostered the training of parents to be better equipped to train their kids. Parents should be equipped to follow up with their kids after each session.
We also wanted the whole covenant community/family to be involved. Not just in the teaching, but in the learning. So whether an adult has children or not, we have a place for them to learn. After the lesson time, the kids and adults will team up and compete with each other in a Covenant Family Feud. We actually surveyed the church the week before, so we'll be using those "fun" answers along with review questions for kids and adults. And since we will be having a dinner afterward, at least theoretically, all ages have a chance to connect with one another.
Of course we also wanted to do something to help teach the kids, as that component is more heavily emphasized. The family unit is the primary place where kids learn about Jesus, but it is irresponsible to think that its the ONLY place. We are part of a Covenant Community, and the church should play a big part! So we didn't want to lose that aspect that VBS tends to do quite well. Our kids will be learning about Jesus' Baptism, His Ascension, and Pentecost and how those parts fit in the overall story of the bible. Jesus Storybook Bible Curriulum material does a good job tracing the story of redemption and how each part fits into the whole.
Finally, I've always found follow-up with V.B.S. very difficult. Part of that is that many in our area just hop-not to mention stop, drop, and shop-from V.B.S. to V.B.S. Is there any need to follow-up when parents already have church homes? No. But even with those who don't have a church family, I've never figured out what to do. The best I've seen is doing a cookout after the week is over.
Instead of having the parents come to church to hear their kids sing (which might work for some-and we have tried it before), we've decided to see if they'd be willing to stay for a meal. You gotta eat, or at least that's what Checker's used to say. That way, ideally, they at least have some relational connection beyond "I like them because they teach my kids morals." So we're hoping any visitors and a parent or two will stay for the meal. We'll see what happens.....
If we can teach kids about Jesus, parents about Jesus, the rest of the covenant family/community about Jesus, fellowship and invite others to participate in that fellowship (with hopes they participate in the gospel), then I'd consider it a success. So now we're hoping the Holy Spirit shows up and does His thing.
May the Lord bless and use the various forms of church ministries this summer-V.B.S., Soccer Camps, Bible Bashes- to bring more of His heavenly will down to Earth.