Super Heroes for Faith

June 15th

Vacation Bible School

I’m leading Vacation Bible School at my church this week, in the evenings after work. The theme, which my friend Tina brainstormed, is “Super Heroes for Faith.” Last night was the first night and to be honest, I didn’t know that I’d have many kids show up. We are a central-city church with very few children in our congregation. I was hired in February as the youth ministry leader to help bring new families with children to the church, and to make those with kids who do attend feel at home with more comprehensive youth programs.

Needless to say, I’m at the bottom of a very big hill. I thought a fun week of evening activities at the church would help get kids familiar with each other and with me. I figured this way they’d be more interested in coming on Sundays to play at Sunday school, etc. If you’ve worked with children in this capacity, you know the resources available are lackluster. There are thousands of websites dedicated to specific educational products but nothing that I’ve been able to find to: get kids to trust you, get parents to trust you, get both parties interested, explain complex issues of faith in simple, clear terms, make children comfortable with the super scary stuff that happens in the Bible ( Let’s not sugar coat this. Our leader was hung from a cross with nails and eventually cut open to bleed to death. When Old Testament God (cranky God, as I like to call him) got angry, He killed in swaths without mercy. We love to talk about Noah, but how about everyone else who drowned in that flood? Pestilence, wrath, pilars of salt … Lovely imagery when you are ultimately trying to teach, “Love everyone!”)

This week, and my youth leadership generally, is geared toward the happy side of faith. I’m always willing to discuss the heavy stuff, but summer vacation to me means fun. It’s pizza, movies, super hero capes, reading great books and swimming with hot dogs barbecuing nearby. It doesn’t mean memorization, castigation or guilt.

When I asked the kids last night what their super power would be — after discussing Noah’s means of getting all the animals in the ark in twos, Jonah’s ability to survive in the giant fish, Jesus’ talent for walking on water and feeding the masses with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish — their answers varied. One little boy in particular had the adults giggling with his immediate response — “telekinesis!” I had to later ask him what that meant. The 7-year-old impressed me wildly with his eye roll and quick, disgusted response, “Mind reading. Duh.”

Duh.

Rather than following a set curriculum for purchase for this week, I’ve thrown together four nights of activities that I hope will both engage the kids and meet some of the goals listed above. Last night was decorating our own capes. Tonight we are watching a movie. Tomorrow we are learning the art of storytelling. Thursday we are swimming.

I may just ask them to try to walk on that water on their way in the pool.

-K

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12 Responses

  1. Great thinking Kelli! I love the super hero idea. Making their own capes..brilliant. I work with the Kindergarteners in my church and totally agree about making it fun and focusing on love and empowerment. This summer we are doing “Xtreme Messy Camp” where the kids will do whip cream fights etc…kind of like Nikelodeon. I’m not sure how they are going to tie that in with our spiritual principles yet – but should be fun. They do a lot of relating a principle to a clip of star wars or Spongebob (one of the kid’s favorites). Sorry to write such a long comment!! I love being involved with the youth and love hearing about what others are doing at theirs.

  2. i loved teaching VBS! we had a sports theme once that was fun…each age group was a team based on the books of the new testament and everyone was on team God. we painted visors and baseball tees, played games, and did “team building” exercises (where they had to work together) to show that when God’s on your side he’ll never let you stray.

  3. Andrewkfromaz June 15, 2010

    “Cranky God” I love it! What are the age ranges of the kids you’re teaching?

  4. I loved VBS as a kid! So fun! I bet they kids will say you’re their favorite teacher. πŸ™‚

  5. Fun is good. (I believe that quote can be attributed to Dr. Seuss.) Meanwhile, I urge you in the words of Abigail Adams, “do not forget the ladies.” How about Ruth’s loyalty to family, Mary’s faith while facing the unknown, and Deborah’s wisdom, for a start… And remember, it’s about Jesus and Jesus was about relationships and compassion for others. Don’t worry about the theology. Just be your lovely giving, loving, creative self – because that shows kids who God is, too.

  6. “get kids to trust you, get parents to trust you” – Time and following through on what you say so that people know what to expect from you is what creates trust. Words and action must go together.

    πŸ™‚

    Cheers to your braveness.

  7. When I was little I went to VBS at my Methodist Church and loved it more than Sunday school! I don’t know why. Taught it once as a teenager and loved it again. Have a super good week! πŸ™‚

  8. I hope your VBS is going well. I know it can be quite exhausting, and I only ever help with the Arts & Crafts room! (Our church has an insane VBS – over 400 kids, daytime & evening sessions, etc. It wears me out just thinking about it!)

  9. I may just ask them to try to walk on that water on their way in the pool

    Be careful, some might really try it….

  10. Jeanie June 17, 2010

    Of course you are teaching VBS — how awesome!

    My mom was the Sunday School superintendent for years….we grew up in/helping with VBS.

    I am so proud of you. There is nothing more important than loving God and serving Him by helping others. (no matter what the world says)

  11. Lisa AC June 18, 2010

    Here ya go hon! Trust building ideas and activities. I can find ALMOST anything on google just by switching the words about. Almost..not everything, some things went right past me. I really hope it helps point you in the right direction.

    I also spent over 6 years in the teaching field, infant, preschoolers, up to 15 year olds. Glad to toss any ideas about you’d like. I remember my vacation bible school days. Loved them. I’m sure you’ll do just fine. One year the teacher had us doing wire art. It was wonderful.

    What I googled for this was religious children games gaining trust

    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&&sa=X&ei=L-QbTLeOJ8L88Abz4dSeDA&ved=0CBIQvwUoAQ&q=religious+children+games+gaining+trust&spell=1&fp=a07e695dcc40105e

  12. Keep the faith. It looks like you have a decent sized group there. These things start small and build. A few years ago (5?) we had four kids at our church. Now we have over 75 with a weekly attendance of 37 or so. The key for us was our inclusive message to the adults. So many people have been hurt in the name of Christianity. Nobody wants to take their kids to a church where they might be rejected or told that they are not welcome-like so many adults have experienced. We made a point of saying things like “all are welcome” at every service, on every banner etc. We also hung banners with pictures of families that said, “This is our church and it could be yours.” Pretty soon young -fertile- couples were coming in droves and we had 10 babies born in one year. That was the tipping point… from there it just grew.

    Oh, and we hired someone a lot like you to run our childrens programs. Someone warm and friendly with a can do spirit.

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