“Digging for Treasure” in Jesus’ parables

diggingtreasuresOctober 12, 2016
News release

“Digging for Treasure” in Jesus’ parables
MennoMedia 2017 Bible school curriculum ready for orders

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ont.—The parables of Jesus contain rich hidden gems. With the theme Digging for Treasure: Parables Revealed, the 2017 vacation Bible school series from MennoMedia gives children tools to find treasures of God’s kingdom.

“This year’s theme responds to a survey in which people said they would like to study parables during VBS,” writes project director Mary Ann Weber. A team of Kansas writers gathered to discuss Jesus’ parables before creating the materials. “The parables reveal things about the kingdom of heaven, about God, and about how much God loves us,” Weber writes in her introduction.

The five-day curriculum brings children both stories and activities about the sower and the seed, the lost sheep and lost coin, the mustard seed, and others. Through drama, worship, creative activities, and song, children will find the spiritual wealth in these ever-new stories from Jesus.

Children’s booklets, Treasure Map and My Book of Stories, and a CD of energetic worship songs help draw children into exploring the world of Jesus’ stories and teachings. Leader’s guides help teachers lead VBS for children from age 4 through grade 5. Adaptations for grades 6–8 are offered on a resource CD, a new feature in this year’s curriculum.

The CD provides additional helpful tools to publicize VBS, a Bible memory slide show, name tags, and other resources designed to equip leaders in implementing an effective, dynamic VBS program.  Digging for Treasure includes leader’s guides for active response, Bible response, creative response, and worship and drama.

MennoMedia’s vacation Bible school writing rotates among various Mennonite communities across the United States and Canada, and varies by year.

Digging for Treasure may be ordered in an all-in-one boxed set including everything needed for planning and preparation. All items are also available separately. More information is at: www.mennomedia.org/vbs.

MennoMedia Staff
Hi-res photos available

For more information on the news release:
Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

Stories told by Jesus chosen as VBS 2016 theme

News release
November 19, 2015SurpriseVBS

Stories told by Jesus chosen as VBS 2016 theme

Newest summer Bible school curriculum ready for orders

HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—Surprise! Stories of Discovering Jesus is the new MennoMedia vacation Bible school material for 2016.

The theme was suggested by users who asked for vacation Bible school material that focuses on Jesus. The team producing the upcoming VBS curriculm looked at stories about Jesus, and noticed that many of the passages featured people and situations where Jesus said or did surprising things. These revealed new facets of Jesus and his teachings. Those stories include Jesus in the temple, with children, in the crowd, during the night, and while walking along a road.

Girl in her driveway playing with chalk

Girl in her driveway playing with chalk

Created for children ages 4 through grade 5, with free options for junior youth available on the VBS website (www.mennomedia.org/vbs), the materials feature a time of worship that includes a drama to present the Bible story. After worship, children rotate among activities that relate to the Bible story.

Dawn Silvius at Abiding Presence Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas, said that this “format brings adults and kids together for extended periods of time around a variety of activities.” She adds that adults and children learn to know each other and develop lasting friendships. They develop friendships that “continue to grow through the rest of the year.” Silvius also adds that “vacation Bible school is a wonderful week for our congregation.”

The VBS 2016 materials were written by a team in Ontario, coordinated by managing editor Mary Ann Weber. Writing rotates among various Mennonite communities across the United States and Canada, and varies by year.

Surprise! Stories of Discovering Jesus may be ordered in an all-in-one boxed set including everything needed for planning and preparation. All items are also available separately. More information is at: www.mennomedia.org/vbs.

MennoMedia Staff
Hi-res photos available

or more information on the news release
Melodie Davis
MennoMedia
540-574-4874
MelodieD@mennomedia.org

Name That Tune

It’s early on a weekday morning and here I am working away with a pitch pipe in one hand and a hymnal in another. My desk is littered with music—hymnals and other songbooks (going back to the 1970s Sing and Rejoice), children’s albums, and even a few CDs.

pitchpipe

It’s time once again to choose Vacation Bible School music at MennoMedia.

Have I mentioned before that I love my job? Yep, this is one of the seriously fun parts of it.

Before I know it, it’s time to log into a Skype call and talk about the possibilities.

We have a new marketing team member and when he learns that we’re going to actually sing in this call, he seems a bit concerned. Really?!

I admit that I was initially a bit skeptical as well. While I love music, I do not consider myself to be a gifted musician or a singer. Yes, I took piano lessons as a child. The lessons taught me how to read music, but that was eons ago and I do not own a piano now. (The pitch pipe has to suffice.) Yes, I sang in my high school choir (shout out to Iowa Mennonite School) but it was a small school and lots of us did (read: were strongly encouraged by our parents to do so). And yes, I enjoy singing in church, but I don’t consider myself to be one to handily find the harmony and join right in. I prefer to stand near a strong alto and follow along.

And yet, for these last nine years, I have had the privilege of helping choose music for our children’s Sunday school or Vacation Bible School curricula.

VBSmusic

Here’s the recipe that we at MennoMedia use to choose music for our children’s curricula:

  1. Assemble a team of writers. Our children’s materials are written by contract writers from across Canada and the U.S. Right now we are working on music for 2015 VBS materials. (2014 materials are available for sale here.) Managing Editor Mary Ann Weber ably coordinates our VBS materials and assembles the writing teams. The 2015 team hails from Ohio Mennonite Conference, and they met together over a weekend in November to outline the sessions. They discussed how to tell the stories, what crafts and games might be included, and gave suggestions for music to go along with the theme.
  2. Review the first round of suggestions: Mary Ann culls together music suggestions from the writers, adds some more of her own, and invites a small team from within MennoMedia to review the music. This is when staff shut the door or find a quiet spot and sing or hum songs to themselves in order to learn them. Does a song work for kids? Is it “sing-a-long-able”? Does it work theologically with the VBS theme? In the phone meetings we often hear things like, “I don’t think this song is right, but it reminds me of another song that goes like this …” And then the person talking shares a song on the phone. (We use the phone or Skype because our staff is dispersed. For this morning’s VBS meeting we were participating in Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio.) “Oh yes, I’ve heard that one before” is often said by another person, who then joins in the song.
  3. Think about balance: It’s always important to think about balance in assembling a CD of songs. With VBS materials, congregations expect peppy songs. But it’s also good to have a song in a minor key or a slower song to provide some relief. It’s good to have songs that will appeal to the youngest children as well as the oldest. It’s good to have songs in languages other than English. It’s good to have songs that describe God in a variety of ways. It’s good to have old favorites and brand new songs as well. It’s good to make sure you don’t have the same song two years in a row. Trust me, it takes time to try and get the right balance.
  4. Hire a CD coordinator: We at MennoMedia determine the music, then we hire someone to produce the CD for us. Typically this is someone from one of our churches. We listen to rough cuts and give feedback or request changes. We might make suggestions for certain instruments or to have children sing a certain song, but mostly we allow the musicians to do their work—knowing we’ve done ours in singing to each other on the phone.

What’s your ideal VBS song? What songs can you remember from VBS or Sunday school as a child?

Picture of me 1
Amy Gingerich, editorial director

P.S. Click here for samples from our 2014 VBS CD. Plus, we’re having a VBS sale right now on Welcome! Give and Receive God’s Great Love, our 2014 VBS materials. Order now for 10% off the retail price!

Welcome_BoxCover