BALLWIN – It may look different than it has in years past, but there’s no excuse for canceling Vacation Bible School this summer. That’s the word from Christy Nance, the VBS coordinator for the Missouri Baptist Convention.
“Churches shouldn’t say, ‘Oh no! We can’t do VBS this year,’ she said. “We need to ask, ‘Which VBS is best for our situation?’ There are so many ways to be safe.”
Depending on a church’s location, size, schedule, volunteer pool and leadership, the best fit may be different from another church down the street or on the opposite side of the state.
“There are places in the state of Missouri that have been relatively unaffected by the Coronavirus, and they may be able to have a fairly typical Vacation Bible School, Nance said. “But if not, the options are unlimited. Doing it at home, doing it in neighborhoods, or even just saying, ‘You know, we’re going to wait until maybe fall break.’ Maybe they will change their Sunday night or Wednesday night activities for a month.”
For Nance’s church – The Rock Church in Ballwin – they’re looking at the potential for an in-home VBS. The church will still promote and register kids, then they’ll set up a drive-through date for families to pick up materials, handouts and supplies. She said they’re still remaining flexible and also considering a VBS in parks on Wednesday nights in the summer if facilities open up and become available, thus allowing it to be more outreach-oriented.
Churches are not without resources as they try to tailor a custom plan to their situations and communities.
LifeWay is rolling out four VBS options for churches. Church leaders can choose the format that works best for their context and that meets guidelines set by local health authorities.
In keeping with LifeWay’s planned “Concrete & Cranes” theme, the four options are:
This is the “VBS as usual” approach. For some contexts, if it’s safe to meet as usual, VBS can go on as it always has. Churches may have to change the dates, but VBS can still happen as planned.
Churches can deploy volunteers to conduct socially-distanced VBS programs in driveways, on front porches, in backyards or in cul-de-sacs. This approach uses church-member “hosts” in multiple neighborhoods throughout your community to conduct a small-scale VBS at their homes. This could be a great solution for groups that are able to meet in smaller numbers.
Churches can use alternative timetables such as conducting VBS over several consecutive weeks (e.g. Wednesday nights, Sunday nights, Saturdays), as a back-to-school kick-off, or over Labor Day weekend or fall break. This approach allows churches to still do a delayed VBS in a low-maintenance, low-prep manner.
VBS at Home
VBS materials can be directly delivered to homes. Churches can post or livestream media-driven worship rallies to engage kids as viewers and use delivery methods to equip parents to facilitate Bible study, recreation and crafts at home.
Along those lines, the MBC is developing a “Bible School in a Box” that will be available at www.mobaptist.org/vbs/. Leaders like Nance are coming together to record Worship Rallies, age-graded Bible lessons for each day, crafts and a missions lesson. Families will be able to use the online resources on their own, or churches will be able to transfer the videos to DVDs to send home with children.
As a part of launching the four options, LifeWay Kids also developed a new free e-book, “4 Ways to Do VBS This Summer.” This resource is intended to help church leaders, volunteers and parents understand their options, instruct them in how to approach new strategies and inspire them to leverage VBS in new ways. It’s available at www.LifeWay.com.
Missouri Baptists can reach out to Nance at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (314)795-0676.