Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Week of July 12, 2015

I post this newsletter article two days into our VBS experience here at New Kirk Presbyterian.  My experience with VBS--working with committees, staff, planning the crucial pieces of the program, everything from overall themes, decorations, movements, and curriculum to organizing volunteers to register, teach, lead, help, and prepare food--hasn't been that vast and only encompasses a collective ten or so years.  From VBS-in-a-box to unique VBS, as only a particular church can do it, the final litmus test of any such program seems to rest in this question: Have we learned to better be the church because of it?

Look around each night.  You'll see volunteers registering and greeting families as they arrive.  You'll see Tina, our Fellowship Committee Chair, working hard with her grandchildren, organizing volunteers, putting out decorations she created at home, and preparing food and supplies for the Family Time activity.  She rushed over after a crazy day at work in order to arrive hours before VBS begins.  Shirley, our Christian Education Committee Chair, will be there, helping in various aspects before the event and, as I've personally witnessed, maybe even helping lead the kids in the motions to our worship music.  You'll see some of the staff in and out, prepping their Recreation, Worship, or Teaching spaces.  I'm probably looking through my notebook of games and examining the space to see how to best pull them off.  Maybe you hear Alison playing through her worship music for the evening before the kids arrive.  Larry and other teachers may be in the classroom setting up supplies and walking through the class time in their minds.  All of us are lending a hand to help where help's needed.  Volunteers are on standby, ready to do the same.

You'll notice there's a four-step process to our VBS, much like the LOGOS program model.  First, the kids move to Recreation, where volunteers and I lead games that intentionally help children work together in a non-competitive way.  They play in a manner that requires the success of the whole group.  After Recreation, the kids split into two groups, alternating between Worship and Teaching.  In Worship, the children are learning that worship is an expression of ourselves to God and that worship requires more than just voice, head, and heart.  It also includes body and motion; thus, it's fun!  In Class, the children are experiencing the stories of our faith.  This week, in particular, they're learning about David and Goliath, Esther and Mordecai, Noah and the Flood, and other great stories in Scripture.  Lastly, we wrap up the evening with Family Time, where we share a meal and a table activity together based on the the day's theme.

What are the children really learning?  What are we really learning?  Is VBS about how "cool" the event seems?  Does it matter how many children show up?

Honestly, for me, I'm watching to see the ways New Kirk Presbyterian grows after this event.  Have we learned how to NOT SO MUCH IMPROVE EVENTS but, rather, learned how to better be together?  Have we learned how to function compassionately and more organically in this family?  For some folks, this means learning to step out there and volunteer, whether it be hands-on with the children or behind the scenes, supporting the program.  For some folks, this may mean learning to better understand and to walk in the shoes of our brothers and sisters in the faith, no matter how much discomfort such compassion costs.  Regardless, it ultimately means growth--real growth.

We'll muster up for our final two VBS sessions this week.  Then, we'll celebrate big time with "Holy Smokes! Family Nights" on Friday, which includes an awesome water slide for the kids.  We hope to see Shag dancing to the beach music our live band will play while we all enjoy great food off the grill and some homemade ice cream.  We'll end the evening with the wonderful animated film, The Emperor's New Groove.

Thanks in advance, New Kirk Presbyterian, for an awesome week!

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