May 14, 2020

A Different Kind of Vacation Bible School

There was that summer when a small construction project at our church and a burned-out Vacation Bible School (VBS) director meant we shifted from a traditional week of morning VBS to Wednesday evening intergenerational gatherings. And then there was that summer of major reconstruction when we couldn’t use the building or grounds and we opted to skip VBS altogether. Then along came COVID-19 in the spring of this year and the conversation and creativity took a whole new spin. Are we done spinning yet? Likely not.

I am a Christian education volunteer in my church and also serve as executive director of GenOn Ministries. For 60 years GenOn, a nonprofit organization, has partnered with churches to nurture, grow, and deepen intergenerational Christ-centered community. Excellent Vacation Bible School does that well. And so, in mid-March, we discussed how to support churches for at-home faith formation this summer.

We have resources to bring generations together in planned and purposeful settings where all are mutually-invested (our definition of intergenerational ministry). We have summer-themed materials to do this—at the church; together. What we needed was a way for church leaders to modify church gatherings for use at home with lots of options, suggestions, and ideas. Communities vary widely on restrictions and practices because of the pandemic. Churches differ greatly in size and on staffing and volunteer availability. Parents range in confidence, time, and energy level.

If you are seeking a new format for VBS this year, GenOn’s “All God’s Children: The Church Family Gathers for Summer” can easily be modified to meet the needs for home use or small backyard groups, depending on the community’s situation.

To begin, order a free sample session here to preview. Review the session, and the accompanying instructions to modify. Once you are ready to move forward, purchase “All God’s Children: The Church Gathers for Summer” from the GenOn online store. The materials are downloadable and available to purchase as five separate sessions or a collection of all five.

Whether you plan for five consecutive days, one day a week for five weeks, or fewer stand-alone sessions; whether you provide live or recorded virtual elements or solely resource families for home use, consider this simpler model for this different kind of summer. Perhaps some church communities will begin the summer at home and gather together in some manner by the end of the season. This resource can flex for that. Themes available are “Faith and Fireworks,” “Let’s Go Camping,” “Plumb Straight,” “Storm Stories” and “Walking on Water.” “Faith and Fireworks” is the free sample.