Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vacation Bible School Goes Missional?

Before the pastor I succeeded retired, he came up with a really cool twist on Vacation Bible School for the church and our community. It's called Vocation Bible School, and, no, that "o" is not a typo. The church didn't run the program last year, but in my first summer here, I could see the previous pastor's and his wife's passion for such a simple but innovative idea and thought we should give it another whirl. Since it's his baby, the previous pastor, who is still a part of our congregation, is heading it up.

Basically, Vocation Bible School involves volunteers from the church leading/teaching a series of workshops/classes -- two per night -- on various crafts, skills, or arts. One guy is doing a class on small engine repair. My wife is doing one on scrapbooking. There's a photography class and a knitting class and a bug catching/identification class for littler ones, etc. And the idea is that kids and their parents attend together.

We kick the whole thing off with a community dinner, then dismiss into classes, each of which is 30 minutes long, and kids sign up for 2 different ones, which they'll attend 3 times over the course of 3 evenings.

At the end of the evening, we all gather again for the part I'm in charge of, an interactive "radio drama"-style presentation of the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. We'll get kids up on stage to work as "Foley artists," making sound effects, and then I'll wrap the whole thing up by explaining the significance of the 3 parables and sharing the gospel.

We have previously unchurched families in our church now who were introduced to our church through Vocation Bible School 2 years ago, so we know this approach has much potential. The hands-on, trade/skill-type classes open up the interest level of unchurched kids in our community in a way that a traditional Vacation Bible School would not, and the inclusion of parents/families is crucial to making relational connections.

This is an on-site/in-building program, so it's not exactly missional in the sense that a backyard vocation Bible school might be, but it is using our facility in an innovative and community-open way.


Tyler Parson said...

This is fantastic Jared! Our church just completed our third consecutive year of "missional VBS."

It began with a group of students and young adults going to the trailer court in town to build relationships, serve, and give to the people who lived in that neighborhood. It has become a church-wide endeavor to bring the gospel in word and deed to the people of our community. The population is about 90% hispanic. We do all the activities there at the trailer court and in the evening. We had a children's ministry program, car repairs, home repairs, painting, women's Bible study, a community garden, and various youth/family activities that followed each evening. Many of these are still continuing and the relationships and ministries continue throughout the entire year as families share meals and lives together and our people clearly proclaim the gospel of Jesus.

Thanks for your post, I hope to hear of other churches doing similar work for the kingdom!

Roberta said...

Love to read about how God is building His Kingdom through these endeavors. Great ideas!

cribs said...

I always wanted to join that kind of activity. When I was a kid. There are lots of missionaries that come to our place and they are great people. They teach us lots of good things.