But the days of simple fruit punch and crafts seem to be fading fast, with many churches opting for pre-packaged “Vacation Bible Schools in a box,” which are flashier and designed to intrigue children.
The kits include curriculum and everything a director would need to plan and execute a VBS. The kits can run several hundred dollars, depending on how many children are expected and how many extras are purchased.
Churches can one-stop shop for their VBS programs and get planning guides, decorations, craft supplies, nametags, stickers, pencils, snack plans, DVDs, entertainment material, music and curriculum, all tied together with a theme, such as LifeWay’s “Saddle Ridge Ranch.” Everything in the kit is cowboy- and rodeo-themed. By the end of the week, children are supposed to learn that spending time on a ranch is fun, but “the best adventure” is discovering Jesus.
Miranda Pearce is in charge of children’s ministry at Anniston First Baptist Church at McClellan. She ordered the “Saddle Ridge Ranch” super sampler to use at VBS this week. Pearce said the church has used LifeWay’s kits for a few years, and they “always work well” and make the VBS “a lot less work” on her. Pearce was expecting about 70 children to attend this year.
This year, many of the boxed VBS programs from the major publishers have ecologically “green” themes:
• “ReNew: The Green VBS and the Parable of the Sower,” from Spark House, promotes environmental stewardship through renewal of the church and the world.
• “Step Up and Go Green for Jesus,” from Urban Ministries, teaches lessons about how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
• “igo Green Environmental Science Camp,” from Rivers Edge Curriculum, teaches that “taking care of the earth is a way to love God and to love others.”
•“Galactic Blast,” from Cokesbury/Abington Press, promotes doing things to help God’s planet.
Of course, there are still churches that choose to do VBS the old-fashioned way, or come up with their own themes. Based on a phone survey of eight churches, seven bought a kit from one of the publishing companies. Four of the seven were using “Saddle Ridge Ranch,” and two were using “High Seas Expedition” from Group VBS, which is an adventure on the seas while learning about the Bible.