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August 16: CHILDREN'S MINISTRY AND VBX
We had the opportunity to ask Robin Barge, the age-levels ministry director, and Jessica Dodson, the edges kid director, about VBX, plans for 2021-22, the ministry's needs and much more.
Tell us more about VBX. What was the process for having a virtual Vacation Bible School?
Robin: The VBX team was made of members from both campuses as well as youth, and the team began with guidance from the VAUMC and the CDC on how to hold a safe VBS. In order to meet the goal of safety, convenience, and an in-person gathering (for those families who were ready), we designed a hybrid event with VBX boxes (at home kits), online content (on our kids Facebook page), and in-person family nights. We held four of the family nights to allow for distancing and convenience of the busy summer season.
It was important that we selected a curriculum that was user friendly--easy for families to work through together at home with little prep work, and easy to apply to many ages. We also looked for content that was fun and engaging, with good music. Kids loved our music this year, so we will be using it in other kids’ events! Our theme was Press Play: an 80s/music theme that reminded kids and families: I am loved. I am known. I am forgiven. God made me.
Many elements came into play to make VBX happen: the VBX team designed the event, planned the fun nights, recruited people to serve at the fun nights. The servers organized, decorated (some helped create a giant boombox!), set up and served at the fun nights, and helped fill the VBX boxes with goodies. We held pick up events for families to receive boxes and t-shirts. Online content was uploaded to Facebook, and daily emails were sent to parents the first week of VBX with at home activities. The fun nights were made possible by a serving team, a sound team, led by Mrs. Cristen, DJ Jake Chittenden, and Host Ethan Kaufman.
Why was it important to still have a Vacation Bible opportunity for our children?
Robin: The VBX planning team and children’s ministry team felt that it was not only important but essential to offer a Vacation Bible opportunity this year for children. With a dramatically different school year, we wanted to offer joy, fun, music, and love to the kids. This year, we chose a theme that was simple and relatable, and we wanted kids to leave with one message--that they were loved by God. We felt that this message would empower kids and families during the ongoing pandemic and also throughout their lives.
What is the best thing that children get from VBX?
Robin: The best thing kids get from VBX is a big event designed by adults just for them! Adults are there smiling and waiting for them and welcoming them, and they feel valued, loved, important, and special! This is so important for children!
Tell us about what is coming up for children during the 2021-22 year?
Robin: We have some exciting things coming up. We recognize that families are in different places as far as remaining virtual or returning to in person, or perhaps a hybrid of both. We are planning to offer virtual opportunities such as Soul Kids: a virtual small group for kids. Church Street is offering a new Sunday morning set up for kids and families! We will release those details soon. We hope to offer a family outing this fall. We will also connect parents to a new app, and we will be updating our kids’ website and social media pages.
Jessica: edges welcomes our kiddos back inside, as safely as possible, on august 8th! we’ve been dreaming and building better spaces for our children to learn more about themselves, each other and God. we are so excited for our kiddos to get in there and make their mark on their new classrooms. we’ll also be growing a lot together, utilizing the orange children’s curriculum to guide our play, creativity and learning.
What are the needs for the children’s ministry in the coming year?
Robin: We need people to invest in the lives of children--we need people to serve in children’s ministry. We also need to explore the spaces children and families visit regularly. We need to be regularly asking the question, is this space welcoming to families? What message is this sending? When children and families arrive, we hope they will find adults excited to see them and an inviting atmosphere to explore their faith.
Jessica: we’d like to invite anyone who feels like they come alive around children to volunteer downstairs at edges kids just once a month. it’s such a rewarding and fun experience to be with these children as they play and learn.
What is your biggest dream for the children in our church?
Robin: My biggest dream for children in our church is that they will know and be able to articulate that God loves them, that Jesus is their friend, and that their friends at church are cheering them on.
Jessica: the whole edges community prays that our children will learn to love themselves and each other just as God loves them; ask big questions about the world around them; and grow to be secure in their gifts and talents.
Why do you think children’s programming is so important?
Robin: The spiritual formation of children is the foundation of their relationship with God. It is their first encounter with church. It is also part of the partnership we build with parents in sharing faith with their children.
Jessica: our community has made promises to each and every child at edges, during their baptism, to surround them in love and teach them about all the dreams God has for them. our curriculum and our volunteers are the most direct ways we live out that promise.
How do you feel the support of the larger church community in children’s ministry?
Robin: I feel the support of the larger church community when people serve in children’s ministry. There is such joy in seeing people bringing joy to children! I feel the support of the larger church when people ask about events happening in children’s ministry and how they can support them.
Jessica: every week i see edges community members cheering on and engaging with our children. it’s a privilege to watch the way our community holds these children up in love. it truly takes a village and everyone does their part.