Re-imagined: Creative Ideas for VBS 2020
Image: Cokesbury's 2020 digital VBS curriculum will be available June 1.
By Rev. Debby Fox
Vacation Bible School is a summer staple of a local church’s ministry with children. For generations, children have been dropped off at church – not necessarily their own church – for three hours of fun singing, dancing, praying, playing games, making crafts, eating elaborate snacks, and bringing home to-do’s for mission. Led by enthusiastic volunteers, countless hours of planning and preparation goes into the 15 hours of face time children and adults have with each other and Jesus. VBS is important to children’s faith formation.
Statistically, today we can expect children to be in our churches 8 -10 times a year. That means we have more opportunity to introduce God through Jesus Christ during VBS than the whole year combined in Sunday School.
What about summer 2020? Vacation Bible School may not look exactly the same as year’s past, but ministry with children will be as strong this summer as ever if NGUMC children’s directors and volunteers have anything to say about it!
Here are a few of the creative ideas for this summer’s VBS that children’s ministers have shared:
This summer, several churches are inviting children to an online VBS experience. Many VBS resources are moving to a digital platform to make this even more fun. (Cokesbury shares that their digital resources will be available through Amplify Media June 1.) One United Methodist Church is creating their own worship and storytelling video which can be viewed either at a particular time each morning or viewed at a family’s convenience. Thematic music videos are also a fun idea!
Congregations enjoy the Drive Thru Nativity that brings the Christmas story to life. Drive Thru VBS could bring your summer theme to life in stations set up around a church campus. Family groups (or those from one household) could lead the story, drama, craft, the worship moment while VBS families participate from their cars.
Take VBS on the road this summer. One church is considering a series of neighborhood gatherings of ten or fewer people that can be held in a cul de sac or driveway in a neighborhood where several families live. Churches that give this idea a try should supply masks and hand sanitizer, and provide the host with a Bible story for the day, a craft, and something for each family to do together to share God’s love in their neighborhood.
Rename VBS and do something brand new!
- Have a Kids Drive-in Worship Service – 30 minutes with appropriate space between cars in the church parking lot. You will need a good outdoor sound system or short-range radio system, a storyteller, music, a movie screen, baby pools to drop your offering from the car window. No bathrooms and no getting out of the car.
- Summer in the Psalms – Pick your favorite psalms or follow the Lectionary and move from curriculum to creativity. Do a collective art project that will become a permanent fixture in the church marking 2020. Have children video their readings and prayers for everyone to use. Introduce the spiritual practice of journaling and lectio divina.
- Practice the Parables – Translate Jesus’ parables into action for the children and their families. Plant seeds in three types of soil and watch the seeds grow, or not? Go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt and rejoice when everything is found. Families are complicated in the Bible and in our own homes. How much does your relationship with your brother or sister remind you of the Story of the Prodigal Son? How could you throw a party to show them how much you love them? Be creative!
This is a summer to rename, rebrand, and rediscover Vacation Bible School. God is waiting for the stories to be told!
Rev. Debby Fox is a consultant focused on children's ministry for the Center for Congregational Excellence. Contact her at Debby.Fox@ngumc.net.