Thursday, January 28, 2016

VBS 2016 - FREE VBS - Abundance Orchard

I was invited to share a free VBS resource with you a couple years ago, which equips your church to help children and families in your community who do not have enough to eat; so, of course, I was very happy to do so! This year I received an email letting me know the first year - which I reviewed at this link - is still available, and so is a second year - which I'm going to review today.

Abundance Orchard is focused on events about food and eating in the New Testament. Each day’s program is based on a different Scripture passage and includes a thematically-connected memory verse. This curriculum includes daily questions for preparation and reflection on the day’s Scripture passage which are designed for VBS teachers and leaders, as a means of deepening faith through interaction with the Scripture. You may also wish to use these questions as the basis for a daily VBS-connected Bible study for older youth and/or adults, lasting 60-90 minutes. 

Abundance Orchard is designed as a stand-alone, no frills Vacation Bible School, with up to five sessions, lasting 2-3 hours each, for older preschool and elementary-aged children. You will find plenty of suggestions for activities, stories, and service, all furthering each lesson’s theme. You’ll note there are no gimmicks or gadgets or disposable, easily breakable items here. Society of St. Andrew strives to be a good steward of financial and environmental resources, and says they know for many congregations, traditional VBS materials can be cost-prohibitive; this curriculum can easily be adapted for use in Sunday Schools using the Rotation Model. 

All of the Society of St. Andrew’s resources are offered free of charge. They ask congregations which use them to commit to receiving offerings to further Society of St. Andrew’s ministry as part of their program. Every 2¢ given will put one serving of healthy, nourishing food on the plate of a hungry person here in the United States.

Now for a closer look at Abundance Orchard VBS Year Two . . . 

  • Day 1 – Breakfast - John 21:1-13 - Jesus prepared breakfast for His disciples on the beach - I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you. (Romans 1:8)

  • Day 2 – Lunch - Luke 19:1-10  - Jesus had lunch with a tax collector - Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

  • Day 3 – Dinner - Luke 10:38-42 - Jesus had dinner at the home of His friends - Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:16)

  • Day 4 – Midnight Snack - Luke 11:5-13 - Jesus told a story about a midnight visitor - Welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed you. (Romans 15:7)

  • Day 5 – Party! - Luke 14:15-23 - Jesus told a story about a big party - Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Setting - Orchards with baskets of fruit
Theme - Focus on food and eating in the New Testament and challenging children and families to share what they have with those in need 
Focus - Service, Content, Application
Strengths - 
  • Excellent information to help churches organize, plan and present this resource with a focus on helping those in need in the community
  • Excellent information about keeping child safety a priority!
  • Extremely affordable; not only is the resource FREE, but activities are designed to involve people in the church in donating what they have, so little needs to be purchased
  • Love the focus on not using food items for games or crafts unless they are going to be eaten - continues the focus on not wasting food
  • Mission project provides options - raising money, gathering food, going out and actually getting involved in gleaning in your local area
  • Application questions at the end of each lesson are excellent
  • Guided prayer after each Bible event is an excellent way to get children to pray.
  • Children are involved in projects to serve their communities
  • Creative and fun ideas for decorating, showing progress with the mission project and more - excellent!
Would Like to See -
  • Activities for children to go and do and come back and tell what they did - I love Live-It activities and would like to see these added
  • I'd like to see open Bibles during the Bible lesson, so children can read from their Bibles 
  • Bible events do engage children a little, but I'd really like to see them do more than just repeat one word for each event.
This resource is Free and it is well written to help children and families understand how there are people in their church and community who need help getting enough food to eat. As they learn about people in the Bible and specific meals they ate, they will also learn about how God provides, and will be challenged to live what they learn by serving and helping others in need of food. It would be easy to add an evangelism focus to this resource and I'd likely do so, but other than this, there is little you would need to add to make this resource an excellent option for VBS, or Summer Sundays, Mid-Week or as an excellent resource to use for a mission conference. You will find the information to download this Free VBS at the following link. Definitely check it out and consider how you might use it in your ministry!

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