I know that many of you have already made plans for Vacation Bible School programs within your congregation. But even if you have made your commitments this year, you may want to start gently nudging your congregation for next year now. I would like to plant this seed for prayer and if you decide to do this idea, then know that it may take longer to produce than the average vacation Bible school anyway, so it might be good to do some planning now.
Several years ago we found a wonderful program that a local Christian Church had presented for Vacation Bible School called Passport to the Promised Land. It is not available now, but you can ask around your ministerial circles to see if they might have copies of the program that you could borrow. Usually they are kept in a church library. It takes lots of planning and so now is a good time to at least look the information over.
Several years ago the Lord called us to form an area wide group that would present free events within our county that would use public buildings and cross denominational lines. It was very successful and you might look around for a group within your area that would like to do the same things. We presented Christian concerts, helped with city wide revivals, sponsored speakers that were not necessarily aligned with a denomination, and then our two Jewish roots events. We had presented Carmen, Phil Driscoll, and others in musical concerts and even a wonderful group of Russians who came to do a teenage rock and roll concert for a city wide 4th of July concert. (Amazing testimony of how that one came together, but I digress...) Anyway, we then discovered that many of our group wanted to know about a passover seder. So we worked with International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen, and since they did a monthly dinner we worked with them to present a full passover. They helped in many ways, and it was quite successful.
The other event that we sponsored was a city-wide fall Praise Festival each year. We decided to adopt a Jewish roots teaching theme and found that this vacation Bible School program Passport to the Promised Land lent itself to the children's venue. We also had an adult venue that I will try to describe. Everything was free, so you will need to do some fundraising, too.
The program was set up so that the children received a bus passport to tour the Holy Land in Bible Times. What fun! They were organized by grades, and we had scenery, live animals and everything ready! The city park had a wonderful 4H animal area that worked well with the whole thing. They visited five towns, but you could expand on other themes if you liked. The towns were: Bethlehem (live animals like sheep and such for a petting zoo were used here), Jerusalem (They visit a market of seven booths where seven crafts are demonstrated), Nazareth (a carpenter's shop), Capernaum (a synagogue where they learned about the Hebrew alphabet and studying within the family framework), and Bethany (this was a Bible time home).
Homework is essential to pulling this event off. If you can find the teacher's guide it will help greatly. It is no longer available---I have checked with the publisher, but you can check around to see if you may borrow the materials.
For the adults we planned individual teaching booths. We invited the Christian community to help us, and they did. The Christian Cowboys came and taught the people how to use a laso.The Christian Motorcycle Club came and showed off their motorcycles. IFCB came and shared about their ministry, too. Churches were encouraged to have information, too. Mixed among all this we had a wonderful slide presentation on The Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Another lady brought her slides of her trip to Israel. Another lady taught on the Jewish Wedding Customs and built a chuppah. Another group taught Jewish Folk Dancing. We invited a Christian country western singer to do a concert in the evening, but you could do Messianic Praise and Worship (may I suggest you purchase the video SHALOM JERUSALEM or UP TO ZION?). Other teaching ministries were invited to participate, and of course we had our teaching books and materials available through out the day.
Another wonderful program that IS available today is call MARKETPLACE 29 and their phone number is 1-800-345-29AD OR 1-616-429-6442. Their address is PO Box 29., Stevensville, MI 49127. Marketplace 29 AD comes in Spanish, too! They also have a new program on THE TABERNACLE that you might want to examine. We will be carrying these programs here at HaY'Did. If you would like to examine a free brochure, please let us know. http://www.marketplace29ad.com/ Lots of positive things to be said about this program on the internet!
One helpful hint: One year I went to our pentecostal church's summer camp and taught Hebrew Folk Dancing each day. I taught about each of the dances and what Bible lesson it was to bring home. The children were grades 4-8 and they loved it. On the last night of the camp they each got to speak over the microphone about what had meant the most to them at camp. Well, the majority said that they would remember those dances forever and that they could still hear the music playing days afterwards. If you can't teach the dances then there are dance videos available through many of the messianic groups. Recently we assembled for Rosh HaShanah and performed about a dozen dances, and video taped them. Other groups have video tapes available for purchase also, or you may contact a messianic congregation to come to your church and teach.
Maybe you are already committed to Vacation Bible School but you might think about doing a fall festival in conjunction with The Feast of Tabernacles in October. Plan ahead and don't be afraid to get everyone dancing and singing! It's a time of rejoicing and even in Zechariah it says that the nations SHALL go up to Zion once a year for the Feast of Tabernacles. Don't you think that it is time that the nations learn what they will be doing at the feasts?
"Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths." Zechariah 14:16
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