Who Is My Neighbor?
We finished our intergenerational Vacation Bible School today. The planning was massive and the execution impressive. The topic was "who is my neighbor," and we looked at the texts of the Good Samaritan, the Messianic Banquet, and the Old Testament texts of the Shema and the Levitical command to love neighbor. All ages were together for dinner, worship, and our building project. We broke out into age groups for our class time. The building project was particularly fun; every group was to create a building necessary for a neighborhood. We adults were given the directive to follow the kids' suggestions. So when our group had a multiplicity of suggestions, we decided to incorporate them all. That's how we came up with the church that had an attached Fellowship Tower with a climbing wall on the side (the tower was the request of the precious little girl, because towers are for princesses). We then put all of our buildings together to make up the neighborhood: a church, a church cathdral cathedral, a park, a hotel, and a police station.
On Saturday, we held a block party on the front lawn, complete with food, a petting zoo, a jumpy (whatever you call those things), and free italian ice. That was fantastic; not only did we have a bunch of people who had been part of VBS all week, we also had a number of people just dropping by because they saw the signs (or their kids saw the jumpy castle).
The whole project was an undertaking, and it was a shift in the way we've done things in the past. This is the first year we haven't followed the "traditional" model of a morning, weekday, kid-focused program. Numbers may have been down because of that. We also hit a big vacation week, apparently, without knowing it. As the days went along, we had fewer and fewer - Friday night was pretty lean (perhaps not surprising, being Friday night, after all). But Saturday's party was huge.
I'm thinking a lot about what we do in the wake of this. I think the "buzz" of the program itself will increase involvement next year. We'll pick a different week, not so close to the return of school. We might avoid Friday night. I do think the intergenerational piece is unique and worthwhile. My concern is that there was so much energy, planning, and volunteering that went into the whole program when the numbers might not be worth that kind of time - either for staff or members. The Saturday party was a raging success; but part of the energy for me was having studied passages about neighbors and especially about the Banquet to which Christ invites us. And can we really just throw a party without the theological underpinnings? That strikes me as potentially too shallow to warrant it all.
So I ask for your input in the comments below. If you attended, what did you think? Be honest. Be anonymous if you want. If you didn't attend, why not? Too busy? Intergenerational not appealing? And what do you think about next year? Is this a model worth repeating? Should we ditch it? Can it be tweaked?