LACLEDE – It is not the first time a church has held vacation Bible school in the park instead of the church building. But for several reasons this year it was the option that made most sense for First Baptist Church, Laclede. They are located in north-central Missouri near Brookfield.
Brandy Wright, the VBS director at First Baptist Church said that because of COVID-19 last year, they chose to have VBS outdoors in the city park near their church.
But this year they decided to do it again because they like the idea of being out in the community. This year their educational wing was being remodeled so it made sense to go back to the park for VBS.
She said they have a nice city park with bathrooms and a shelter house. It is located less than a block from their church.
They used the LifeWay curriculum and they kept the time down to 1 hour and 15 minutes. It ran for four nights. They deliberately kept it simple.
Wright said they had music, Bible study, crafts and games They rotated among the activities and all ages stayed together for the evening. As they finished, they sent home a bag with snacks and drinks for the children.
She said they had about eight volunteers both last year and this summer. Their sister church, First Baptist of Marceline, which is in their association, helped by sending few youth and adults last year. They had more from First Baptist Laclede step up this year so they didn’t have to rely on FBC Marceline as much, although the association VBS director, Joann Mott came over to help both years.
There were 13 kids attending. Most were from Laclede, but a few were from the nearby town of Brookfield.
They were very pleased with LifeWay’s “Destination Dig” theme this year. They ordered the kids packet for each student. That included a Bible, a workbook, memory verses and a souvenir bandana.
Asked how it was different doing VBS outdoors instead of the traditional inside the building approach, Wright said she thought it flowed a lot better. If there had been rain they had permission to move over to the nearby community building adjacent to the park. The time was set for 6 PM every night and there were usually kids waiting on them at 5:30 when they got to the park to set up.
She said, “We were out in the community. The parents could leave if they wanted to. Some went to a neighbor’s house and visited. They could set on the porch and see the kids.”
The park shelter had electricity available. So they were able to set up and project the video for the kids.
Wright said we heard some kids saying, “Hey we need to start going to church on Sunday.” And they have a new boy coming to Sunday school. “He saw us in the park and joined us every night,” she added.
Wright serves on the VBS training team for Linn-Livingston Baptist Association. She was the assistant to association VBS director this year. The Wright family worked in four different vacation Bible schools this summer. The whole family pitched in to help.
They really liked the user-friendly curriculum. They said the kids really got into the videos and songs and the Bible study really helped see that Jesus loves them and the reason why.
Joe Wright, Brandi’s husband and pastor of the Laclede church said, “VBS is really important for the church. It is crucial. That is how you reach the whole family – through the kids. In our world the men are not stepping up so you have to find other ways to get into the family unit. That way is through the kids. Show them the love of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is tugging on their heart leading them.”
The Wrights think getting outside the walls of their church is a good thing and they say they will probably have VBS in the park next year too.