Sifting through the selection of Vacation Bible School curriculum options and deciphering their marketing messages in order to choose something that's theologically sound, easy to use, and fun for all can be a daunting task. Thankfully, the fine folks from the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal Church) have done the legwork and launched their annual list of VBS reviews: The Best VBS Programs of 2018.
To be considered as a "Top Pick" on their list a VBS resource had to have the following:
- An emphasis on God’s love and care for all people
- The unity of a program around a distinctive theme supported by a cohesive program of stories and activities.
- Sound learning strategies based on developmental traits of the targeted audience
Reading through their reviews, I appreciated the thoroughness of their approach. For example, check out their comments on Amped: Live Fully Alive (from Orange):
"But the bottom line is that these materials are intended for evangelical churches with sin and salvation-oriented theologies — and with mega church-type infrastructure and culture. The themes and bible readings for the individual days are not in themselves objectionable, and a theologically savvy director with time to tinker could make it work. Still, I believe creedal churches will find it more trouble than it’s worth to try adapting the recommended daily messages (which permeate all the materials) into a coherent, age-appropriate theological approach more in line with formation built on the baptismal covenant."
Theology matters during a week in the summer as much as it matters all year long.
If you'd like to try an Intergenerational approach this year, you'll want to look at their review of Babylon: Daniels' Courage in Captivity (from Group). Not on the list but also worth checking out if you're looking for an intergenerational resource is All God's Children: The Church Family Gathers for a Very Blessed Summer from GenOn Ministries.
And here's a little-known fact: Faith Alive Resources also has a great selection of VBS curriculum — eight different choices!
So gather a group together, read the reviews and do your homework now so that the seeds you plant this summer will continue to grow long after it ends.