While I didn’t publish one on my blog for 2009, I did indeed research Vacation Bible School material. The congregation where I minister settled on “Studio Go!” from Standard Publishing in 2009. The VBS came from a different approach than most VBS (jungle, safari, pirates) with a “game show” theme. The material focused on “Go”-ing, making it a very proactive VBS that we all (including the kids) enjoyed and learned from.
Many of the kits from 2009 are still available and look interesting, but for our purposes I’ll just “review” what’s new for 2010 that peaked my interest. By the way, I do this knowing full-well that many congregations have already picked a VBS kit, but (*ahem*) I know that some haven’t!
Group’s new VBS for 2010 is “High Seas Expedition.” And while a first glance might cause us to think that it is just another “pirate VBS” – it is not. It’s a 5 day VBS using their “trademark” cute characters to explore the “seven seas.” That kind of means a “sea-safari” of sorts (kind of). The main day’s themes emphasize God’s Word and are: God’s Word is true; God’s Word is comforting; God’s Word is surprising; God’s Word is life-changing; and God’s Word is for everyone. The “usual” disclaimers apply as Group is not affiliated with the churches of Christ.
Standard Publishing has my attention again this year with yet another different approach to their VBS for 2010. This year’s theme is “Hero Headquarters.” And if you’re thinking super heroes, you’re on the right track. The fun-filled five day VBS day’s themes include: Heroes do the unexpected; Heroes take action; Heroes step out on faith; Heroes save the day; and Heroes stand for truth. Again, the “usual” disclaimers apply.
When I first saw Concordia Publishing’s “Planet Zoom” I thought – “cool, a space theme VBS!” – but it turned out to be about a bee (not quite Bug Safari, but about the same). Now, this 5 day VBS is still a nicely prepared kit that is simple and easy to do. The main day’s themes are: Biz-z-zy Believers; An Unbee-lievable Meal; Amaz-z-zing Care; A New Bee-ginning; and Bee Free in Jesus. I will say that out of the VBS I’ve looked at their snacks seem really simple and tasty looking too! Again, the “usual” disclaimers apply.
Group also has a second VBS for 2010 with an “Egyptian” emphasis called “Egypt Joseph’s Journey from prison to palace.” And unlike the three above, this has got to be the most “involved.” I say this because of the costuming and decorations. Still, don’t let that “scare you” – the overall message is an important one. While the VBS uses Joseph’s story as a backdrop, the five day’s themes are: God gives us hope; God gives us special abilities; God gives us wisdom; God gives us forgiveness; and God gives us a family. Again, the “usual” disclaimers apply.
Gospel Light has a fun looking VBS for the younger crowd called “SonQuest Rainforest.” Yeah, it’s a “jungle” theme (rainforest/jungle = same), but kids like that stuff! The snacks look simple, but the crafts are a little expensive because they’re all kits. The five day’s very fundamental themes are: Get it; Get found; Get God’s love; Get praying; and Get going. Do I need to say it: the “usual” disclaimers apply.
While there are a few other VBS kits new for 2010 these are the five that caught my eye. Unless someone is hiding something, I don’t see anything new for 2010 from the churches of Christ. Still, “Rise and Shine for Jesus” from Lambert Book House (farm based theme) sounds like lots of “hee haw” fun with sound Biblical teaching. The five day’s themes are: By Being Thankful; By Caring and Sharing; By Being Honest; By Being a Peacemaker; and By Overcoming Temptation. No disclaimer needed 🙂
I’ve been doing some research into curriculum recently. While well seasoned church members are well adept at generating their own Sunday school materials, there is an inconsistency in the quality and scope and sequence. The problem is that we tend to teach what we know and like. And while that is “okay” for the teacher, the student might not get as comprehensive a perspective of the Scriptures for a well grounded faith.
For example, one Sunday years ago, I asked my son what he learned in Bible class. He sighed and mumbled, “Noah. Again.”
We are doing a serious disservice to the body of Christ when we allow our Sunday school teachers to “have at it.” I know that there are sensitive areas because “brother-so-and-so has been teaching this the same way for 20 years . . .” Well, my questions to this kind of response are: Has this been effective? Have our children and adults grown spiritually? Do they have a well-working knowledge of the Scriptures? Are those who have gone through “whatever Sunday school curriculum” remained faithful to the Lord’s church? These are some serious questions we need to ask when we try to evaluate any curriculum.
So, with that in mind, I would like to offer some links for reference. Please note that while there are many non-church of Christ resources, I’ve only looked at those connected to the churches of Christ.
The first is Lambert Book House. I remember teaching from this very Biblically conservative curriculum when I taught 5th & 6th grades. It is very textual. Any “excitement” about the Scriptures or “fun” needs to come from the teacher. Any practical application needs to come from the teacher. The curriculum offers little in these areas, although the teacher’s guide does present some ideas for the classroom and activities. But teachers should “teach” and that in itself is a challenge for churches today. Perhaps more training for teachers is needed, but I digress from our current topic.
Another is 21st Century Christian. I will say that I am impressed with the presentation of their materials, especially the new upper elementary F.B.I. materials. 21CC has pdf samples online for both LifeLinks and NewLife curriculum. You can also easily examine their scope and sequence. Clearly 21CC has invested a great deal of effort in presenting the Scriptures in a fun, yet Biblically conservative way for young people. Plus, it’s easy for teachers to use.
The Gospel Advocate’s Heritage of Faith for Kids is another curriculum similar to 21CC LifeLinks. Unfortunately, without requesting a sample, there is no way to get an idea of what the material looks like. I have examined the material and it is good material with a sound scope and sequence.
I just realized that it’s been almost two months since I last posted! Sorry. I’ve been busy with The Fireproof Movie. If you don’t know, Fireproof is about a heroic fireman locked in a failing marriage who accepts his father’s challenge to take part in a 40-day experiment designed to teach both husband and wife the true meaning of commitment in this faith-based marriage drama starring Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea. It is rated PG.
I showed the movie at church a couple of consecutive weekends in January. And then in February offered the six week Fireproof Your Marriage seminar/study to the public. I ordered the materials directly from Outreach and it was surprisingly affordable. We had a good turn out, with a total of 10 couples (5 from church and 5 non-churched).
Topics during the six week group sessions are:
- He Said/She Said – appreciating the God-designed differences between men and women
- He First Loves Us – God’s love for you and how it enables you to love others
- Love for a Lifetime – marriage as a lifelong covenant
- Breaking Free – freeing yourself from temptations that can destroy a marriage
- Forgiveness – offering and receiving forgiveness
- A Better Way of Loving – unconditional love
The only session I had a theological problem with was session two. The well-meaning folks at Outreach based the session two on God’s love for us and how if we are to really love one another, then we must come understand and accept God’s love for us. Of course, the session offered the non-Biblical sinner’s prayer for salvation. I looked at the “problem” as a way of sharing God’s truth with the class. While there were no earth-shattering moments in the session, I at least planted seeds for thought.
The Fireproof Your Marriage seminar/study is good for couples at any level of their relationship and is meant to go hand in hand with the Love Dare book. While the Love Dare book is not needed for the seminar/study, it is the basis of The Fireproof Movie and the premise behind the sessions.
May God bless your ministry as you outreach to others with this timely tool.
I first heard about Think magazine in the summer of 2007. I read my first copy in January 2008 and I am happy to say that I’m finally a subscriber. Think is a very “intellectual” church of Christ publication that I would say is a kind of response to the atheist’s “Skeptic” publication.
Here is a snip from their site:
“Think deals with difficult topics such as, stem cell research, intelligent design, cloning, abortion, homosexuality and other social issues that affect us as we live in an increasingly perplexed society.1“
In these times when Christians are often criticized for supposedly not knowing the “facts” about science Think is a publication no minister should be without!
Recently I’ve lamented upgrading my computer to Microsoft Vista, and not because of problems with the operating system. I actually like Vista – anyway . . . my lament comes from the fact that the program I once used for Hebrew no longer works. So, I went looking for some free alternatives and found Scripture4all.org For free I haven’t found anything that comes close – so, if you’re in need of a FREE Greek/Hebrew interlinear Bible program this link’s for you!