Last night, my wife Naomi and I watched Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's original romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer. Though it came out in 1998, the movie takes place thirteen years earlier, in 1985. I remember thinking as an eighth grader, upon viewing it at release, that the mid-eighties seemed like forever-ago. You can only imagine how old I felt yesterday when I realized The Wedding Singer itself is now twenty years old, undoubtedly ancient to today's middle school-age youth. Time deals some hard truths.
Having worked in ministry for over ten years, I've heard the same truths about the modern church and culture so many times.
We don't feel confident enough in our biblical literacy to teach the young.
Our children are not passing the faith along to our grandchildren.
Sunday mornings are hard.
There are two responses to hard truths such as these. We can either keep doing things the way they've been done, catering to those for whom the current model still "works", hoping culture will eventually shift back in our direction OR we can hold time-honored traditions loosely, experimenting with new ways to meet people where they are. Did you know there is a movement in Lutheran faith formation known as "Killing Sunday School/Birthing Cross+Gen Community"? Though I find the verbiage rather audacious, sometimes visions are most effective when we don't smooth away all the rough edges.
This kind of bold thinking has helped steer the planning team leading the resurrection of Vacation Bible School this summer at Good Shepherd. While we hope to retain the heart and soul of VBS that resonates with many, our dream for a new, reimagined Vacation Bible School aims to address some of the hard truths the Church is struggling with today. Here's how:
It's on a weekend
Vacation Bible School begins with dinner on Friday, July 20 and ends with a potluck lunch on Sunday, July 22. We are doing it this way because we really want parents to participate with their kids. At the end of every large group (one Friday night, one Saturday morning, and one Saturday after lunch) we will build in response time for family units to engage in faith conversation, pray together and bless one another. These practices can be really intimidating to start, especially in the home, so we want to coach you through it in a safe space.
It's open to everyone
Children, youth, and adults are all invited to Vacation Bible School. In the summer, it's easy to feel disconnected from the church. We hope this bring everyone together and enhances our community. One of the bits of feedback I've gotten about our cross-generational SME hours is that it brings together people who normally would not interact. VBS will surely do that, as we explore together how God calls us all into community, to create, and to care for the earth.
Children, 3rd grade and under, must sign-up with an adult
These may seem like fightin' words, but young children will need to sign-up as part of a "family unit." The good news is the adult can be a grandparent, godparent, neighbor, or friend. We hope all adults take advantage of this opportunity to sign-up with a young person in their life with whom they'd like to share the love of Jesus. Though young children will split off from older children and adults for one hour during each session, this weekend will be a shared experience for all involved.
If this sounds like an exciting or valuable opportunity, please register HERE or share the registration with a loved one. We are looking forward to making an old thing new and hope you can join us!
Director, Cross-Generational Ministry