Monday, February 26, 2024

VBS 2024 - Hometown Nazareth by Group Publishing

Today I'm happy to look at "Hometown Nazareth" from Group Publishing - which equips you to take the children in your church and community on a visit to Jesus' hometown, Nazareth, where they will be able to experience village life as Jesus might have lived it when He was a boy!

Hometown Nazareth
by - Group Publishing

Scope and Sequence -
  1. Jesus had a Family - We do, Too! - Luke 1:26-38 - Mary is chosen to be Jesus' mother!
  2. Jesus had a Name - We do, Too! - Luke 2:1-40 - Jesus is born and gets His name!
  3. Jesus had a Home - We do, Too! - Matthew 2:13, 14, 19-23 - Jesus' Family Escapes to Egypt!
  4. Jesus went to Church - We do, Too! - Luke 2:41-52 - Jesus went to the Temple!
  5. Jesus served Others - We do, Too! - John 2:1-12 - Jesus does a Miracle in Cana!
Setting - Nazareth - the village with shops, homes and more
Theme - Children will "visit" Jesus' boyhood town and hear "Mary" tell about His boyhood and how they can stand up for their faith even when others doubt Jesus really is God's Son!
Focus – Evangelism, Application, and Content 
Strengths - 
  • The Hometown Nazareth kit provides all the resources, information, and help you need to plan and present an effective VBS. For example . . . 
    • You will find a complete Director's Manual. It even starts inside the cover by providing emails and phone numbers where you will be able to connect with real people for any help you may need! This is fantastic!
    • I am very happy to see Group has provided complete information for First-Time Directors and walks them through a day at Hometown Nazareth as they explain all the "must know" information. Taking on the role of VBS Director for the first time may be overwhelming, but Group makes it easy! Well done, Group!
    • They then provide basic info - helpful for everyone - scope, what you will find in your kit, the things which make Hometown Nazareth unique, and how to make it work in your unique church.
    • These basics and a walk through the Hometown Nazareth starter kit are easy to understand.
  • I LOVE the focus of Hometown Nazareth - how families will learn the Bible. While you are most certainly able to use Hometown Nazareth as a VBS for just children, this unique resource is a fantastic tool which will equip you to help entire families connect together as they learn God's Word together.
  • Operation Kid-to-Kid project for this year - children raise money to help provide clean water for people in Honduras. Here in the USA clean water is something we do not even think about. We are most blessed. It is not this way everywhere. In far too many places children do not have access to clean water. Group Publishing teamed up with World Vision to involve children in showing love to Honduran people by raising money to provide clean water. Excellent!
  • Solid Bible Lessons - strong salvation emphasis and application for children who already know Jesus! 
  • I'm very happy to see a specific station for the Bible lesson with extremely creative and engaging lessons - they are solidly grounded in God's Word and intentionally designed to engage children in the teaching of the lessons! Tremendously well done, Group!
  • I love the "God Sightings"
  • I love the "Notes from Nazareth", "Field test Findings", and the "Did you know" - very interesting and useful!
  • Fun songs reinforce the points - hear a sample of the music here.
  • I love the "i-Grow Chart" - this is a unique, fun, and engaging resource for the family!
  • I love the "Bringing it Home" family faith builders!
  • Excellent info on decorating - Group will help you transform your church into a Bible-times village!
  • Complete information to help you plan, prepare, recruit, and train your volunteers.
  • Excellent information on how to lead a child to Christ, health and safety info, how to make your ministry a safe place, and how to engage children with special needs. All excellent!
  • All stations reinforce and teach the daily Bible points
Once again, these are just the things I liked from looking through the Director's Book! When I looked more closely through each Teacher's Book, I liked the following things . . .
  • In the Mary's House Drama Leader's Manual, I love how each day's drama begins with a schedule, helpful information, and a devotional to help everyone understand what they are teaching and why it matters. This station is a very engaging place where children - and families - will be able to experience familiar Bible accounts about Jesus in a new and memorable way. Excellent.
  • In the Shopkeepers Manual volunteers will find all the information they need to "set up shop" - whether they are a carpenter, have the bead bazaar, Synagogue school, olive oil shop, farmer's field, dye shop, lead Operation Kid-to-Kid, work in the rock quarry, barnyard, or food market. Each shop has info on a historical background, and helpful shopkeeper tips. While absolutely fun, the Bible point is solidly woven through each "shop" so children/families will learn while having fun!
  • Even the time in "Fun & Games" is not wasted as children and families continue to learn while playing games!
  • The Celebration Manual will equip leaders to open each day with fun, but most importantly with purpose and then close the day with connection and by engaging children/families so they will remember why they were there - the God-sightings and point for the day - this is why Hometown Nazareth is well worth using in your ministry.
  • While all these things are parts of what makes Hometown  Nazareth an outstanding resource, my favorite part, the one I think is most important, is Hometown Huddle. This is where children/families connect each day before heading into "Nazareth" and where they connect after their rotations. They are able to talk together, learn together, and discover why what they are learning matters. This is exceptional.
  • I especially LOVE the emphasis on reminding volunteers they are, "the voice of truth"! Group reminds the volunteers to "keep drawing your Tribe members back to the truth of what we believe by saying things like, 'You know what? Mary isn't the only one in Nazareth who believes Jesus is God's Son. We do, too!'" We want children/families to know the truth and I LOVE the emphasis and focus Group puts on reminding volunteers there is a purpose, a very important purpose to what they are doing. Yes, VBS is fun - this is important, but with Group VBS it is absolutely fun with an important purpose.
Would Like to See - 
  • I'd like a basic kit option for churches on a very tight budget
  • Activities for children to involve them in serving their own communities
Group says; "Everyone knows what it’s like to hear your mom tell stories from your childhood. Can you imagine the kinds of stories Mary could tell? Take your kids back to Hometown Nazareth, where they’ll stand up for their faith among people who doubt the carpenter’s son is really God’s son. At Hometown Nazareth VBS, you’ll reinforce Bible truth in a big way because the daily Bible Point is carefully integrated into each activity. God’s Word comes alive through engaging interaction with Bible history!"

Hometown Nazareth is an excellent VBS resource . . .  the lessons are engaging and the focus is clearly on intentionally helping children and families understand how to live what they learn by giving them opportunity to do so! If your primary goal for VBS is to help children and families understand God's Word can be believed, understood, and lived or if you are looking for a resource which will allow you to involve entire families this summer, be sure to take a serious look at "Hometown Nazareth". If you do not select this for your VBS, look for another opportunity to utilize it as your families will not be the same after experiencing "Hometown Nazareth" together - they will absolutely be strengthened through this experience! Since the setting is a Bible times village, this VBS should be easy to set up in an outdoor venue!  

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