So what criteria does one Use to evaluate Vacation Bible School?
One of our church leaders, and I went to a VBS seminar. (Basically an informercial for VBS)
And here is some of the criteria we used:
I. Do we like the Theme?
II. Is the theme too simple or too complex for the children we have?
III. Is the curriculum itself sound doctrinally? (Or will we have teachers that can make it so?)
IV. Are the crafts easy or too costly? (Do we have to buy from them alone?)
V. How complex are the Snacks?
VI. What about the Music? Is it reproducible or do we have to buy each individual CD for each child?
VII. Can the different themes, stations be used on a rotating basis; and can this curriculum be used later on?
We had 5 presenters of Group, Standard, Gospel Light Lifeway. and Group again.
Here are some of the thoughts we had:
I. Group's Pandamania. Seemed like a lot of hype but seemed too simple and costly. Did like the ""Watch for God" bracelet.
II. Standard's Main Street. Not sure on the connection made. The analogy of parables to younger elementary kids might not get ideas like gratitude, compassion, and other 50 cent words ... Also had cooking station which seemed to convey "Germ Factory" to me. Though cool thing I liked was the pen ... I mean really ...it had the Bible lessons, and the themes of each day rolled up all in one.
III. Gospel Light's Sonsurf Beach Bash. This was pretty straight forward. No gimmicks. The presenter even mentioned about using all the publishing houses represented - throughout the year. Showed video and basically had their catalogue. Mentioned about being economically affordable and even using Oriental Trading and the Dollar Store for supplies (You don't hear that often from a person trying to sell their curriculum to you)
IV. Lifeway's Big Apple Adventure. Rather strange for them to be hosting this event and several glitches happened. Of course with lines like "The Big Apple, she's Easy ...." (I don't think the presenter even got that when she said that) and comparing it to being a Hot model. (I was like did I just hear that??) They did have some New York facts compared to Bible facts but seemed rather dorky and too much on NY emphasis rather than Bible. (I wonder if people in NY would use this theme too??)
(Though there was only 20 minutes for each one ..this presentation seemed longer ...and cut off the last speaker and no catalogue either ..disappointed) The Alphabet About Admit Believe Confess Discipleship, and Evangelism and Fun was there.
V. Hometown Nazareth. Where Jesus was a kid. (I saw a version of this in the 80s ...really it was a Bible tour of when Jesus was a kid. How do I know? Because I was a teen leader helping out at Sweets Corners Church leading their VBS in the 80s.). Felt bad that this person was cut off but did presentation afterwards (After presenting earlier). Loved this one. In fact this Fall before Advent, we're thinking of using this for our children's ministry to lead into our reading of when Jesus was a kid unto Christmas. We have the costumes, some of the supplies. The bandanas for each of the 12 tribes was cool. The story about the starfish was interesting too.
The Starfish Story:
Loren Eiseley, while writing his book The Unexpected Universe, was walking along the ocean in Costabel early one morning. It was shortly after a storm had subsided and as he continued walking, he noticed that thousands of starfish had been washed up on the beach. Ahead of him was a gigantic rainbow of incredible perfection shimmering into existence. At the base of the rainbow stooped a little boy, gazing fixedly at an object in the sand. Eventually, he flung the object far beyond the breaking surf.
Eiseley went up to him and asked, "Son, what are you doing?" The little boy answered, "I'm throwing starfish back into the sea because if I don't they're going to die." "But there are thousands of starfish. In the larger scheme of things you're not going to make much of a difference to all these starfish." The little boy looked up at him, stooped down again to pick up another starfish and, gently but quickly, flung it back into the ocean. "It's going to make a big difference to that one" he replied.
And then the presenter talked about the difference we can make in a child's life because of our VBS programs.
Some interesting stats that were cited that night were:
In the US - there are 262 000 VBS programs each year reaching 2.5 million children.
26% of decisions made for Jesus come as a result of VBS.
BTW if you want to know the VBS we choose Click Here
I'm excited about it. Cannot wait. We've already had our first VBS meeting and 2011 looks great.