Sunday, December 16, 2012

So . . . What Is "Fluff" in VBS Curriculum . . . and What Is NOT?

Believe it or not, it is almost time to choose your VBS curriculum for Summer 2013! I've been reviewing 2013 VBS resources for the past month and this morning I am surrounded with VBS - my living room almost looks like a book store!!! My 2013 VBS reviews begin to release on January 7th and this year, like last year, I'll provide reviews and side-by-side comparison charts. I'll also have posts covering all things VBS, from recruiting, training and promoting your VBS to additional ways to make use of these resources.

Before my reviews begin, I do want to talk about "fluff" in VBS. Each year there are a number of publishers who like to say their VBS resources bring the Bible back to VBS, but when I review the resources I find the Bible in all of them. So, today I thought I'd take a moment to consider what "fluff" is . . . and what it is not.

What "fluff" is . . . 
  • in the past I received a VBS kit from a publisher which didn't even include Bible lessons. The lessons were all about getting along, encouraging one another, sharing, etc, but they did not even refer to the Bible. In my opinion, this is "fluff". Yes, we want to teach our children to get along, encourage one another and share, but it is more important to teach children how to know and walk with Jesus in their everyday lives every day. (I did NOT include this kit in my review)
What "fluff" is NOT . . . 
  • when a Bible lesson is taught in a non-traditional way with activity and creativity, this is NOT "fluff". If you engage children in the Bible lesson by having them act as King Nebuchadnezzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Abdnego and the guards and then focus on the Bible application . . . this is NOT fluff. This is intentionally engaging children so they remember, understand and can live God's Word for changed lives.
  • a VBS resource with a stronger focus on application and service is NOT "fluff". Some VBS resources have a stronger focus on evangelism and others focus on application for children who already are Christians - I personally like to see both as most children at a VBS are church kids and most of them are already Christians, so a focus which will help them grow in their walk is a great focus for VBS. There are however; always children at a VBS who are not yet Christians, so I believe the evangelism aspect also needs to be part of VBS. If a resource focuses more strongly on application, this does not make it "fluff".
We know children - and adults - do not understand things they do not remember. We know they do not live things they do not understand. We know lives are not changed if we do not live God's Word, so if a curriculum resource uses non-traditional teaching to intentionally engage children so they remember, understand and live God's Word for changed  lives, this is NOT fluff. 

It is true some publishers tend to utilize a more traditional approach to teaching the Bible lessons, but this does not mean publishers who utilize non-traditional teaching methods only have "fluff" in their materials. I read through each lesson, each activity in every VBS resource I review. I'm very happy to say all the VBS kits in my review solidly focus on God's Word in the teaching of the Bible lesson and in each activity station! It is clear great attention and focus is given by each publisher in connecting every part of each day's lesson to God's Word. So, as you make your VBS choices, you can know all the resources I review focus on solidly teaching God's Word!

1 comment:

  1. While every VBS curriculum teaches stories and applications from the Bible, many do not have kids open up and read from the Bible for themselves. I'm all for kids acting out the Bible story and doing other active participation methods so the kids understand the story and its application, but I want kids second grade and up to learn that they can look up a passage and read the words for themselves just as well as they can read the words of any book. I don't want them to think only pastors or adults read directly from the Bible. For preschool through 1st grade classes, I expect the teacher to physically hold, open, and read from the Bible directly for at least part of the lesson, so the kids know the stories come from a special, true book. One quarter to one third of the kids who attend our VBS are from unchurched families. I would like you to add a "Hands-On Use of the Bible" category for your evaluation chart.