VBS With a Twist
In partnership with Houston I.S.D. and the Summer Food Program from Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Iglesia Fuente de Vida has been offering breakfast, lunch, Bible Study, art, music, dance, sports, movies and board games to youth from infancy to 18 years old. These six-week classes have been opened to the community Wednesday-Friday and provided to seven different age groups.
“Our church filled out an application to participate in the city’s Summer Food Program and attended one of many training sessions to learn the instructions and requirements,” says Pastor Artie Cadar. “Herrera Elementary, which is located across the street from our church, used their automated message system to contact their students’ parents to let them know about our program.”
Iglesia’s Follow-up Team volunteers then visit the families several times to invite them to other events and begin building relationships.
Kathy Wootten, Director of Youth Ministry for First United Methodist Church in Pittsburg, TX says that VBS offers her church the opportunity to rally youth for a variety of good causes. During VBS, youth get together in the middle of the week for one evening to help raise money to buy mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa. During "The 30 Second Hoop Shoot," youth get someone to sponsor them an amount of money for every basket they can make in 30 seconds from the free throw line of the court. “Of course we have a basket full of balls that we feed the participant as quickly as we can so they can make as many baskets as possible,”she says.
“It is a fun activity and takes very little set up. We award the winner with the Golden Basketball, which is just an old basketball sprayed gold and bearing the title: 30 Sec. Hoop Shoot Champ.” The record winner to date made 13 baskets in 30 seconds. Another church youth recognized for his dedication to the Nothing but Nets campaign is Patrick Foster of First Methodist UMC in Jacksonville. Pastor Joel Mahon reports, “The United Nations Foundation's Nothing but Nets Campaign invited 10 people from our congregation to a reception and Broadway performance of The Lion King as a way to thank our local supporters and partners for their dedication to sending nets and saving lives." Patrick joined by five other of young people, and four adults made the trip in July to attend a special reception and showing.”
How can you host a VBS when your church has no children? Steve Killam, a Lay pastor at St. Paul's UMC in Lufkin was inspired at annual conference to do just that. “During the Bishop’s address and sessions with Jorge Acevedo I was touched, realizing God wanted more from St. Paul’s and we had to step out and invest in the young. We have since started several new ministries to get the blood flowing, (literally- one is an exercise class) and we held a vacation Bible school for the first time in over 10 years!” Members did not let age stop them; they got together and decided to hold VBS this year-- with only 7 weeks of planning time! Adds Killam, “I will say that I did very little to organize, plan, or carry out the plans. The congregation did it all and in early August we had had 11 children participate! That does not sound like a lot - but for a church that has no children, that was huge. It gets better. We had over 20 adults involved, cooking, teaching or praying. We had an adult class during the VBS with between 4-6 people attending including two non-members who brought children. The followng Sunday, we had 3 children and several other visitors!” Knowing children can motivate anyone of any age into action, Killam says, “I am confident it will get even better. One of the adults that came to the adult class while bringing her children e-mailed me Saturday night saying she could not make it to church this Sunday, but would be there next week.” Adds Steve, “We give God the glory and honor. We give the Texas Annual Conference leaders the thanks to be courageous and reassuring. We have only begun to get re-charged.â€¨Go-Fight-Win. Amen!”
Pastor Frank Coats of St. Matthew's UMC in Houston decided to "spice up" VBS this summer by bringing in guest speaker Rev. Diane McGehee, director of missional excellence for TAC. For "visual aids" she took a mosquito net to educate the children on what they can do to help others their age who have to worry about malaria in Africa.