This will be a summer to “imagine new alternatives”. I encourage everyone to take time now to look ahead and prayerfully make decisions together. Don’t remove annual events from the calendar without first considering if they can be done with a new twist!
“Perhaps this is a time to continue focusing on what is essential. A time to do a few things well. A time to produce less and connect more deeply with members of our communities.”Building Faith
Get inspired to create quality, well-planned, focused summer offerings with some of the ideas below –
Think Intergenerational! For instance, Journey Together material from Sparkhouse can provide themes that appeal to everyone so you can “travel together” through God’s Creation. Or, check into how CrossRoads Camp & Retreat Center in Port Murray, New Jersey has been offering “Virtual Campfires” with sing-alongs and skits; people bring their singing voices and s’mores. Then, Quest in a Box has something to keep families connected to your church and God, whatever this summer may bring.
VBS has always been an opportunity to reach out to the broader community, but this summer that may prove to be especially true! It’s not a bit to early to start researching flexible multi-session options that are easily adaptable, super fun, digital, downloadable and doable at home. One recommended resource is Illustrated Ministry’s VBS program launching in June and focusing on compassion. Highlights of their material includes inclusive theology and mission opportunities with minimal prep required.
Our church, friends and community help us steer clear of “isolation fatigue” and that is why virtual experiences need to happen. Are they the same as being together in person, definitely not – but on the upside virtual events can happen on a dime and everyone is included, even those who don’t use the internet.
Virtual events need a plan.
- Keep things simple with paperless invites and RSVPs – though don’t forget people without access to technology (See 4. below).
- Find a way to make everyone feel like they’re at the same event. For instance, custom kits with a napkin, party straw, flower, or party game supplies could be delivered in advance, and
- play together – bingo, topic-oriented show & tell, and scavenger hunts are all well suited, and jokes or sharing stories might be really fun!
- Make sure your planning includes how to help people connect if they don’t have access to a computer or smartphone.
There is often a lot of emotion wrapped up in a favorite parish picnic, retreat, service project, or plans for VBS! Whatever lies ahead for your congregation, including a decision to cancel a much-loved event, communicate clearly, compassionately, and with enthusiasm for what is possible!