NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–For Vacation Bible School, the theme, the fun and the activities are all means to an end. Everything that is planned is done so with one goal in mind — leading people of all ages to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
As LifeWay Christian Resources works on the VBS curriculum for 2004, the Japanese lanterns, kimonos and rickshaws are exciting and interesting props for the “Far-out Far East Rickshaw Rally-Racing to the Son” theme. But everything that is written, drawn or sung is done within a set of principles. Without these guidelines, VBS wouldn’t be the effective outreach event for churches that it is.
As churches prepare for 2004 VBS, below are the principles that guide curriculum designers to stay focused on the ultimate goal of reaching people of all ages for Jesus. The principles also assure everyone in the church associated with VBS that the intention is to design a fun opportunity with everlasting significance:
1. Vacation Bible School is one of the most strategic outreach tools for the church and includes age-appropriate evangelism emphasis.
2. Vacation Bible School is a flagship church event, uniquely inviting and exciting for everyone involved. The event belongs to the local church and must be flexible enough to be made into what each individual church needs.
3. Vacation Bible School is centered around a theme that permeates content, methodology and the learning environment, creating an experience totally distinctive from Sunday School. The theme must be appealing to children. A sub-theme may be used to explain content or the meaning of the theme.
4. Vacation Bible School provides sound, relevant Bible study that enables people to experience and respond to the Gospel message in ways that are appropriate for them. Everything that happens during a day of Vacation Bible School grows out of the biblical content and emphasis of that day. Vacation Bible School leads preschoolers, children, youth and adults to study the same biblical content, when appropriate.
5. Vacation Bible School includes schedules that help older preschoolers and children rotate through varied learning experiences with a variety of Christian leaders. Suggestions for a self-contained classroom option also are offered.
6. Vacation Bible School teachers of preschoolers and children are enlisted to lead certain functions based upon their abilities, interests and spiritual gifts. Worker preparation is simplified for many teachers who repeat their teaching assignments with different groups of children.
7. Vacation Bible School requires user-friendly, easy-to-prepare and easy-to-use materials that help teachers lead effective, meaningful learning experiences and establish meaningful relationships with learners.
8. The primary elements of Vacation Bible School include Bible study, worship, crafts, music, missions, recreation and snacks. Each age group may adapt the kinds of elements emphasized.
9. Vacation Bible School is an entry point to church and Christianity for many unchurched people, so it must be comfortable, enjoyable and appealing to this target audience. Vacation Bible School gives the church the opportunity to establish long-term relationships with these people.
10. Vacation Bible School must provide challenging experiences that continue to stimulate spiritual growth for churched people.