Betsy Dishman serves her local church as Director of Children and Family Ministries in Harrisonburg, VA in addition to serving as GenOn’s Training Coordinator. Here’s how her church is navigating this summer to offer a simpler Vacation Bible School during the COVID-19 season.
How has the coronavirus affected your church’s plans for VBS this summer?
In the past, VBS has been a growing ministry for us with more than 50 percent participation from outside our church, which involved more than 100 children and 50+ youth and adult leaders. We recently decided to shelve our large publishing house curriculum that we had already purchased and save it for 2021. The thought of translating or replicating what we have been doing to an online platform seemed daunting. We decided to offer a simpler VBS this summer.
What will a simpler VBS look like at your church?
We’re going to use GenOn’s modified version of “All God’s Children: The Church Gathers for Summer” to create a hybrid design. Bible stories, prayer time, and music we select from songs the children already know will happen live and online at a set time. Playtime and food options will happen when it suits the families. We are polling our families to determine the best format to hopefully include all the family members. This is something our previous morning schedule didn’t allow.
How will you resource the families?
This modified version is simple enough to have families use materials from around the house and yard. We are considering providing kits for each registered family to pick up in the parking lot of the church. The kits would have all the supplies (no food items) and printed materials needed to make it easier on them.
What do you see as benefits to your church for offering VBS in this new way?
So many summer opportunities for families have been cancelled. Once school is finished, there could be a void that VBS will serve to fill. It will also help us stay connected with each other and encourage families to take the lead in faith formation at home. We would welcome families from our surrounding community to register, too.
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