Written by Becky Brown
Our church vacation bible school is just around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited. The church interns and other key staff have been put many hours into planning, designing, and organizing the biggest children’s ministry experience of the year. Special attention has been given this year to connect the Music Makers Musical – Daniel – with this year’s Bibletimes theme. Both storylines are about Daniel and his experience being thrown in the lion’s den! Vacation Bible School here at FUMC is an immersive experience. Kids are grouped together, with children in their cohort, into tribes – or family groups with dedicated adult volunteers to lead them. Every Bibletimes day begins with worship time all together. Then, the groups of children rotate through 5 experiences:
Bible storytime – with actors who share a portion of the Bible story, in character and costume with set design, and teach the lessons of the day
Games – a fun time outside to help children express their energy while learning about cultural context of the biblical time period through play
Marketplace – an immersive experience where the children are able to visit over a dozen shops, interact with dozens of volunteers in costume, create crafts, and try snack food that is culturally relevant to the bible story context.
Dinner – the family group eats a meal together prepared by volunteers
Family time – a time for the small group to talk about the lesson themes for the day, read the Bible together, and explore activities together that support the Christian teaching for the day.
While the organizational component of such an event is fascinating and amazing, the experiences of the children are powerful to witness. Our church is flooded with children who have grown up at FUMC since birth, children who have become a part of our church family over time, friends, grandchildren of our members, neighbors, music makers and preschool families. It can be a wild and raucous experience with that many children together on hot evenings in the summer! It is utterly exhausting as an adult leader. Yet, it is a powerful way to receive God’s grace. I love watching the children’s faces light up when they begin to understand faith and the Bible lessons of the day. I love watching the children’s family groups truly become a little family while children and adults build relationships over the course of the 4 days. I love watching adult leaders extend patience and unconditional love to some of the most high energy children day after day. We may never know which children come to Bibletimes and experience God’s grace and love for the first time in their lives. We may never know which children come and feel accepted and loved and truly need it the most in their life circumstance. We may never know which children, who give us the biggest run for our money, have the time of their lives and find the church is their refuge. Bibletimes is a great opportunity to be in partnership with Jesus to change children’s lives. Children who desperately need someone to pour into them acceptance, unconditional love, and God’s grace. I am certain I am the person I am today because a church loved on me in this way during their summer programming many years ago. It’s not too late to sign up to volunteer. I’ll see you there!