This winter time of the year, God is Good VBS enjoys many calls, from Church leaders and educators, as they choose the “right VBS” for their parishes and archdioceses. After all, today’s children are in desperate need of energetic Catechesis and it is critical that they become engaged with forming faith and developing a relationship with Jesus.
While we share our thoughts and expertise, God is Good VBS also asks the following questions to help educators, volunteers, diocese employees and priests discern the perfect VBS choice for their parishes and archdioceses:
- What do you want to teach about this summer, during Vacation Bible School? Often, parishes have already presented topics during faith formation that they want to pass on during the summer. Although that isn’t a bad decision, sometimes it works to enrich what children learned about (during the school year) in the summer, through VBS. For example, if children learn about the Jesse Tree during Advent, parishes might enrich this topic with learning about the Old Testament during Summer VBS. But, when parishes want something “different from what’s already been taught,” vocation education is rare and special so we often suggest a vocation VBS. Alternatively, we hear, “I haven’t taught our children much about the Gospels this school year, so I’d like to choose a VBS about Ss. John, Luke, Mark and Matthew.”
- Are you accustomed to a specific publisher? We ask this question because larger publishers, that leaders are used to, have somewhat perfected user-friendliness. That doesn’t mean that they are a perfect fit for everyone though. Smaller companies have the ability to spend more time working on what’s important to them and more importantly what’s important to parishes. Small, but solidly Catholic curricula publishers have also mastered user-friendliness for Directors of Religious Education. We are authentically Catholic, which encourages children to embrace the richness of our Church and develop relationships with Christ. Relationships with Christ will encourage children to deepen their desire to know, love and serve Him and His Church! God is Good VBS does not speak for the other small “fish in the publisher pond,” but our curricula is developed by educators. We help leaders who have little to much experience, TEACH and ENJOY. These verbs are amazing combinations to act upon, for children’s faiths to be formed.
- Are you concerned about your VBS boasting a mountain, beach or cave theme? Surprisingly, answers to this question vary. Many leaders tell us that that they’ve been there done that. We even heard one leader say, “Meh. I could do without a fluffy, VBS beach theme.” On the other hand, religious educators and children are accustomed to “faith formation on steroids!” (I cannot take credit for that terrific quote, but my response is like many: Faith Formation on steroids isn’t necessarily a good thing.) Of course, our black and white Baltimore Catechisms are chock full of the BEST Catechesis out there, but vacation bible school is different. It is a vacation from regular Catechesis. Children are bright, and good publishers, teachers and parents know this! Children are able to focus on the natural beauty of our Catholic faith and the awesomeness of God. They already intrinsically know that God created everything out of nothing. If parishes want more for their children, we encourage them to think about what the VBS theme focuses on; secular themes or Godly themes?
- So, perhaps you don’t want to focus on caves anymore but what about decorations, t-shirts, and music for your parish? We haven’t met a VBS leader who doesn’t emphasize the importance of some or all of these Vacation Bible School aspects. Decorations and music are very critical to most parishes and publishers should understand. A fun atmosphere without distracting children, where everyone is enjoying music and dancing makes vacation bible school unique from other good methods of Catholic education. Our company chooses music from World Library Publications which is child AND adult friendly. Leaders and parents thank us for the music being enjoyable for them, too. Other Catholic publishers provide good music, too. Consider what’s important to you and your VBS team.
- Does the appearance and topics of the guides concern you when purchasing a VBS Director’s Kit? One universal answer we receive is that “guides need to be user-friendly and parishes want learning stations, so that VBS is different than Wednesday night faith formation.” We provide a large Director’s Guide as do most publishers, and we feel this is the most helpful guide. Our volunteer guides are for Art, Game, Snack, Role Plays and Prayer Stations. Although stations vary from publisher to publisher, we pride ourselves on our guides being regular book size and colorful. Consider if these qualities are important to you and your team.
Typically, we encounter many questions returned our way when we chat with people like you! We are more than happy to talk Catholic Education. Our hope is that this short post helps you think about this wonderful avenue to forming faith . . . Catholic VBS.
Looking for more information? Call us at 952-290-0483.