Ideas & More: UMCs Doing VBS With a Twist
School’s out…Here come the kids! How will your church be Investing in the Young this summer? From crazy themes to elaborate sets, VBS gives vibrant congregations the chance to say goodbye to ‘old school’ and hello to ‘hip and cool.’ Read these mini profiles for ideas and inspiration:
St. Stephens UMC - Houston: For many years, St. Stephens has included a Bible Village that is designed to bring the children closer to Christ by allowing them to experience something of what life would have been like for Jesus. This is done by providing 14 scenarios (such as the house of a carpenter and a scribe} and a synagogue school. The children spend 20 minutes at each house performing a function relevant to that occupation such as baking bread or doing beadwork. Seniors of the church staff the Village in full costume, along with volunteers who have daytime availability and older youth who can be valued helpers while earning community credit hours for school. Bible Village is closely coordinated with and integrated into the overall VBS experience and has been very successful for St. Stephens as a ministry for the children, team building for the church, and a wonderful community outreach. Pre-registration is required and the cost is $15 for the first child and $10 for each sibling.
More Info: Denya Guntur 713-907-5242.
FUMC, Nacogdoches: Summer remodeling at the church is inspiring FUMC,Nacagdoches to have Faith & Family First - Families under Construction – an alternative to the typical VBS. Slated for August 4th-9th, this program will be designed to facilitate family spiritual formation at home. It will be held each evening in different locations ranging from the bowling alley to a putt-putt golf course -- selected to promote family time and bonding. These evenings will offer direction to families in family prayer, devotion, scripture study, and mission service and will conclude with a Back to School Bash pool party at the S.F.A. Recreation Center Pool. First UMC looks forward, while their church building is “under construction,” to recognizing that today’s families are also “under construction,” and that they want to help area families “build a strong foundation” of faith!
More Info: Elsa Jordan at email@example.com
St. Mark’s UMC – Houston: Timing is everything, according to St. Mark’s UMC, a church that continues to provide an ever-popular evening VBS Monday-Thursday from 5:30-8:30pm. Leaders have discovered this is ideal for working parents and easier to recruit volunteers, who begin each evening by having dinner with the students. While there is a nominal $20 charge for food and materials, scholarships are available so that no one is turned away. St. Mark’s publicizes the opportunity via neighborhood web sites, flyers, email, church announcements and through preschool backpacks and typically sees over half of the participants coming from outside of the church.
More Info: Lisa Martinson, 713.861.3104 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FUMC - Carthage, Texas: Center “themes” will be the hit at this creative VBS as students meet all week at “Friendship Central,” in the sanctuary, talk with Telly Ticket (Assembly Leader) and Godwin Merrifeather (Puppeteer) who will introduce the daily “Friendship Phrase” and “Scripture Souvenir” to the children (who will role play as “Neighbors”). Youngsters will see a skit each day in the backstage tent with Gulliver Globetrotter, the director of FUMC’s Friendtastic Celebration -- learning that neighbors near and far are more alike than different. Children will then sing and dance together in the “Choral Corner” to learn 10 new songs with motions. Bible stories will come to life at “Bible Bazaar,” complete with Bible characters teaching biblical hospitality to others. After craft time in the “Creation Zone,” the little “Neighbors” have snacks in the “Eatery Expo” and have playtime in “Global Games.” Children will show their parents and friends what they learned during the week at the Friday Night Celebration -- retelling the Bible stories and scriptures to the congregation much like a child-led sermon. All will celebrate with a pizza party and mini-fair. This year students will be collecting materials and donations for Carthage Youth Force.
More Info: Brooke Lipsey at 903-693-5227
First UMC and WordServe UMC, Fulshear, Tx: These two neighboring churches are partnering to host the “Super Summer of Serving,” – VBS with an external focus. Students will attend “Kingdom Rock” VBS during the day and recreate their experience by taking it “on the road” later in the summer to host a one-night VBS with other youth at Boys & Girls Country and another at Zion Missionary Baptist Church. A “Tuesday Teambuilding” night will provide leadership development prep time as students choose whether to help with worship, Bible study, games, skits, crafts or snacks when they take VBS on tour to other locations. The Super Summer of Serving will conclude with FAITH-full kids “packing parties” on a series of Sunday afternoons where youth will pack boxes of food for area children who might otherwise go hungry while school is not in session.
More Info: Cheryl Dent email@example.com
FUMC – Brookshire: This church takes a twist on the age old VBS by inviting five other churches to work with them on a community-focused VBS. Each church brings special gifts and talents to the event, and since they collectively span ethnic and denominational boundaries, there are more and more youth participating every year. The community VBS is offered at no cost to the community or to the children because the churches work together to have "FUNdraisers" to pay for the program.
More Info: Reverend Dottie Dumas at 281-375-5683
Huntington FUMC and Keltys FUMC: Huntington and Keltys UMC's will once again join forces to bring the word of God to children in Lufkin and the surrounding areas this June for a "Seussical" Vacation Bible School. Bible verses will be linked with the entertaining writings of Dr. Seuss as the kids come together for a fun time of "Making Seuss of It All!" Lessons will include: "Love your neighbor as Christ loves you!" featuring the Battle of the Buttered Bread; "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" using the help of Mazey Daisy Head; "Honor your mother and father," with help from The Cat in the Hat. The children will be challenged to act on their faith with lessons taught in the writings of "Horton Hears a Who?" and learn their responsibility to share their faith to others with "Horton Hatches an Egg." Crafts and games will complement the theme of the day along with special songs. Adds Reverend Cindy Parker, “Of course, there will be refreshments including... green eggs and ham!”
More info: firstname.lastname@example.org
FUMC – Center: The youth in this community will look forward to learning about “Superheroes of the Bible” this June. Everyone loves Superheroes, and many youngsters want to be like them. But rather than the ones that came from someone’s imagination or mythological story, the super powers of the Bible are worth studying for their source of power: the Holy Spirit.
More Info: Kelli Snider at email@example.com
FUMC – Livingston: Talk about targeting a “mini-demographic!” To expand capacity to serve 250 children, FUMC Livingston pulls all hands on deck for VBS. It is a church-wide priority and nothing else goes on the calendar. Volunteers even change out the color of the decorations for each new day “Our pastor, Steve Woody, invites everyone to be involved,” says children’s director Sally Frasier, “that means music director, technology team, youth director and youth along with parents and grandparents. It’s great to know our grandparents in the congregation put VBS on their calendars as soon as we announce next year’s date so they can schedule their grandkids to be in town.” FUMC coordinates with other churches in Livingston to stagger summer events and to advertise for each other’s activities. “We make sure and put our events on the Chamber of Commerce calendar and we often share props and leftover supplies.”
More Info: Sally Frasier at 936-327-7100
FUMC – Henderson: “Why do we do this?” That was the question the children’s ministry asked as they began to plan for VBS. “We are beyond excited to take our VBS to areas in the community suffering from significant poverty,” says Kidz First Ministry Leader Susan Evans. With a passion for outreach to children who may not otherwise experience VBS, the Henderson ministry team will host its 3rd annual “Back-Yard-Bible-Club VBS Apartment Outreach community. This year, they will minister to a residential complex that has children predominantly from low-income families. Volunteers set up games and crafts, host story-telling under a big shade tree, and worship on a tennis court. Another popular feature: the team also provides dinner for the children and their families after the event. Henderson VBS planners last year chose crafts that had a practical use such as portable water bottle coolers for them to decorate, and later saw children throughout the summer using those bags as they rode their bikes around the complex. Additional ‘keeper crafts’ included a tie-dye t-shirt, and personalized pillowcase. This year’s theme of “Bible Boot Camp” will feature lessons on the armor of God with related crafts such as a helmet (hat) to personalize, a breastplate (resembling a camo t-shirt to decorate), shoes (uninflated camo balloon flip flops) and a sword (children presented with a Bible) at the end of the program. Susan says the team is also looking into having a cardboard shield for them to personalize and hang in their rooms. “Everyone who helped us out last year can tell you the excitement that was felt each day,” she shares. “When our vehicles would begin to arrive, children would pour out of their apartments and run over to help us set up our tables and supplies. Many of the adult residents offered to help as well. One gentleman, who did not have a child in our program, came each day with his guitar and helped our music director lead the worship songs. He has already asked if he could help us out again this year.” More Info: Susan Evans @ www.fumchenderson.org