IT WORKED FOR US! St. Paul’s succeeds with new VBS format

By Melissa Paugh

Three summers ago, we were planning for Vacation Bible School, and we kept running into obstacles. The biggest one was that we were trying to find one week in the summer when all of the volunteers were going to be there to help, but we couldn’t find one week. The creative solution to the problem was to switch from a week long VBS to one day a week for 3-5 weeks.
Our church has an older demographic, so a traditional VBS would exclude most of our members with the exception of those who are volunteering to help. We wanted to find a way to involve more generations into VBS. What if instead of making VBS solely for the kids, we had an inter-generational VBS with classes for the adults and kids?
The final issue we encountered was that if we wanted to incorporate all of the generations, we had to have it in the evening after work which led to the issue of what do we do about dinner? The solution we worked out was to have a covered dish dinner with the church or VBS planning team providing the main dish.
And Epic Bible Adventures was born. We meet at 5 pm for dinner and fellowship. There is a transition period around 6 pm where we have a time of singing, and then we break off into age groups for classes. The first time we did this was a huge experiment. We had no idea if it would work or not, but it has worked remarkably well given our church demographic and culture.
We have made adjustments to the details over time, but the basic structure has remained the same. We have moved to having three of these a year: one during the summer, one during Advent, and one during Lent.
The latest installment was Epic Bible Adventures: Neighborhood Edition, and we really focused on learning about who our neighbor is as well as finding ways to support our neighbors during the four weeks we met. Each week we collected something for a different neighbor including a baby shower for the Upshar Parish house, a canned food drive for a local food bank, and collecting items to give to those in the nursing home.