Contact: Pastor Fred Richart

Email: fgrichart@gmail.com

Phone: (402) 274-3329

In 2010, the Auburn First UMC's Vacation Bible school was set to go. Teachers, leaders, youth help, space and curriculum were all ready. Two years earlier, the same formula netted more than 40 children for the event. Last year, the numbers of children were about a quarter of that. Last year, however, the event conflicted with city league swimming, softball and baseball.

A leadership team wondered: “What to do this year?” Here’s what they came up with:

  1.  Make the children and their families the priority.
  2.  Make relationship building with community children and families the first option.
  3. Realize we are about reaching children in the community more than we are designing a program for our own children.

Those who have read the book “UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity ... and Why It Matters” by Dave Kinnamon and Gabe Lyons remembered that it would be good to remove roadblocks of language.

Also, rethinking Vacation Bible school meant we needed to create a schedule that is attractive and practical, utilizing space that is public, and realizing 51 percent of the children in Auburn’s community are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

The plan? A program called “Bucket Brigade” — everything we do involves buckets.

  • Instead of an evening program, we start at 8 a.m.
  • Instead of every night for a week, we opted for a weekly program through June and July.
  • Instead of a snack mid-program, we opted for a full breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and the opportunity to make a lunch at the end of the program, at 10 a.m.
  • Instead of a program designed for United Methodist children only, we developed a program suitable for all God’s children, with nature as the background programming.
  • Instead of a program at our church building, we are renting a 4-H building with a kitchen and easy accessibility.

The Results:

  • A sense we are doing something exciting and new.
  • A positive outlook about the future.
  • Connections with a variety of systems and groups in our community.
  • Gratefulness for being able to advertise in the local elementary school.
  • Congregation members delighted to be the change.
  • A first day attendance of 14 children K-5 who created container gardens -- already more children than we had at last year’s VBS program nursery-grade 5. The second week, we had 17 youngsters for games, with 12 attendees not with us the previous week, and a total of 33 registrations.
  • Local businesses and individuals have responded by giving donations of $400 to help sponsor this project.