In the past, Vacation Bible School within the walls of All Saints’ Church in Woodbridge had been loads of fun, but a majority of the participants were from church families who heard the message of Jesus’ love each Sunday. And although many had invited friends, family and neighbors to VBS, most would not come, often because of the unfamiliarity of the church and the inconvenience of transporting the children. But in 2009, God spoke a new vision for VBS. He said, “Go and tell!” VBS was taken out from behind the church walls and held throughout the community. That first year there were 10 sites; last year there were 15; and this year, VBS is being hosted at 20 different sites (18 homes plus two homeless prevention shelters). Nearly 120 parishioners supported the sites and served more than 300 children, over 70% of whom were not members of the church.
How does this work? Parishioners offer to host VBS in their front yards in themorning, afternoon, or evening. Hosts include young families, empty nesters, singles and retirees. They are supported by Bible lesson leaders andat least one host home assistant. To make all the VBS fun possible, teams of volunteers rotate through the sites to lead the children in crafts, worship and games. This particular format has worked beautifully each year, as the teams sweeping in offer new energy and the promise of something fun! The response from each community, as well as the church, is overwhelmingly positive and supportive. There is JOY in serving in this mission, and the heart of the model is taking the Gospel into the community, whether at one home or many.
For 2011, All Saints’ chose the VBS curriculum published by Lifeway titled “Big Apple Adventure: Where Faith and Life Connect.” This theme and the supporting Scripture (Romans 10:17) describe the goal of VBS at All Saints’ Church, to reach out in love to the community and share the Good News about Jesus with boldness and joy. Unique to 2011 was the opportunity to coachanew church of another denomination in offering VBS through this model. Spirit & Life United Methodist Church agrees that it would be hard to ever go back to a classic VBS format ever again!
Every year, the clergy show theirfull support by visiting the various sites. This year, the three All Saints’ clergy, the Revs. Dan Morgan, Mark Brown and Alex Leighton, the Pastor of Spirit & Life, Matt Meisenhelter, and Bishop John Guernsey played the role of Nicodemus during Wednesday’s “New Birth” Bible lesson.
There were dozens of testimonies throughout VBS and many are still being shared. Bible leaders praised God for children praying to receive Jesus as their Savior, host homes provided many examples of children sharing their new-found faith with their parents, and neighbors (often the most unexpected ones) came and expressed such gratitude for a wonderful week! VBS Sunday at the end of the week was overflowing with new families whose children had attended at one of the host home sites. To read more about what God did during VBS, you are invited to read the 2011 blog for VBS at: http://www.allsaintsdalecity.org/vbsblog.
Please take a peek at photos from each site here: http://www.allsaintsdalecity.org/2011vbs.
If you’d like to learn more about how All Saints’ conducts VBS, please contact the VBS team by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the church office at 703-670-0093.
To God be all glory and praise!