When the kids are off school for the vacation / holidays, it's a great opportunity to run a Holiday Club of some sort for them. Knowing Jesus Christ is something that brings joy, so it's quite easy to have a lot of fun when learning about him. Songs, games, craft, drama - we can do all sorts of activities with kids as we share Bible stories and truths with them.
Often we'll use a pre-packaged scheme: a Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Club, or Church Holiday Club will use an "off-the-peg" book of plans and ideas. It saves us time, and often brings us ideas that we'd never think of on our own.
BUT: there are pitfalls! Here are some things to think about when adapting a pre-packaged scheme for your situation:
Theme vs Content
Pirates are fun, but do they actually have anything to do with the message? Or are we confusing the kids? You can have a lot of fun with some themes, but is that all you're doing? Are you underlining the message, or distracting from it?
By all means use a fun theme, but think through what impact it has on the bible content of your week.
Content in Everything
We ran a little experiment in our weekly club - what difference did the craft make to the children's understanding of the week's Bible theme? One week we did a random (and great fun) craft, the next we did something very specifically related to the theme (and still fun!)
A week after the random craft, none of the kids could remember the theme. A week after the themed-craft, lots of the kids could remember the theme...
So here's the idea: each day of your Holiday Club will hopefully have something specific for everyone to learn from the Bible. Why not make that theme echo through everything you do: craft, drama, games etc. Don't put it down: make sure every leader is talking about the theme in everything. Why are you doing this (e.g.) relay race? Because Jesus wants us to pass on his message to others... It takes a bit of effort, but it's well worth it.
Don't do a talk
Eek! Call myself an evangelical? Yes - I just don't think a 20 minute talk from a leader up-front is the best way to teach the bible to age 5-11s. OK, there are probably some experts who can do it brilliantly - but not many.
There is an alternative to a talk:
Why not take the content of what you would have had in the talk, and spread it over some songs, games, puppets, a quiz, some drama, video and so on? If you think about a talk, the four concepts "Statement, Explanation, Illustration, Application" can be applied to what you do as you make a point in the talk. So: do all the same things - state the point, explain it, illustrate it, apply it - but using things that the children can engage with and enjoy more. It will mean doing some talking - but never for long enough for the children to get bored, and they'll understand and engage with what you're saying much more.
So, just to be clear: I do think it's important to teach the Bible to children, but I think there are more appropriate and exciting ways of doing that with the age group 5-11s than doing a 20-minute talk.
Engage with the Parents
Parents could just drop off / pick up their children, and vanish. Why not engage with them, and so help them (a) to be good parents and be interested in what their children are doing, and (b) to find out something about the message of Jesus themselves.
Use photos, video on a laptop (or something bigger) to show what you've been doing. Prepare a handout for each day with info about what the kids have been learning, and some activities to do at home. Have a party of some sort (picnic, barbecue) with the parents during the week so that leaders can meet and chat with them (and tell them how lovely their kids are - parents like that).
Sing some great songs
You don't need to be a great musician to do this, you can download MP3s, and play them through your computer or an iPod speaker dock or something, and you and the children can sing along.
Just remember: the songs we sung as children are now ?? years old, and many are musically from a completely different era. There are lots of great up-to-date songs, still based on the bible, but using music (and language) in a way that kids today will identify with and enjoy. My own "Maynard's Groovy Bible Tunes" has nearly 70 songs like this, with all sorts of themes and bible passages covered. You can get the sheet music for free, and download MP3s at very low cost. Click here to visit the website, full of Children's Bible Songs.
Have a great time!
Remember that Jesus rejoiced to welcome children (and rebuked those who said otherwise - Mark 10:13-16). I hope you have a great time with your Holiday Club, even if you don't agree with my ideas! Thanks for reading.
Comment from: Chris Visitor
I thought this was you when I randomly searched ‘kids bible club themes’ into google…
Comment from: Member
Yes - it’s me! :-)