Several summers ago, our church was in the middle of a construction project that affected our vacation Bible school plans. Because there would be equipment, gaping holes, workers, and general chaos during the time that we normally ran our program for kids, we decided to try a new approach and have an intergenerational VBS in the evening. Inspired by several colleagues who offered this type of all-church activity in the summer, we were excited to see if our congregation would enjoy the innovation. It was a great success filled with fellowship, mission projects, crafts, Bible study, and meals shared by people of all ages. After the challenge of this year’s isolation and separation due to the pandemic, I am excited to renew relationships through intergenerational events again this summer.
One of the best parts of creating an intergenerational VBS or summer event is the opportunity for people who don’t know each other as well to come together. Often our classes, rehearsals, and events at church are geared to certain age groups or demographics. This is good for people to learn and grow in a class or group that fits them, for example when our children are grouped by grades, but intergenerational events and programming offer some new experiences for all ages to meet one another and enjoy a broader sense of the family of God.
The year we changed to an intergenerational VBS, we planned a different event for each night. Programs included a craft night with several options for more and less difficult crafts, some of which we collected for pastoral visits; a clean-up night where we cleaned litter at the local cemetery and along the neighborhood street; history night where we learned about the stories of our very old church and how it was established and grew; a mission night where we cooked food for our local team to deliver to those who are homebound over the next few months; and finally, a silent movie night where we showed a vintage film and our pipe organist accompanied it live with music, complete with an intermission for fresh popcorn and lemonade on the lawn at dusk with a simple evening service to close.
The whole week was such a joyful celebration of summer-paced togetherness and fun. You don’t have to look far for some ideas to create your own intergenerational event. Sparkhouse has created two books of intergenerational summer events, Journey Together and Good Stewards Together. In each you will find ideas for all ages to come together and enjoy a wonderful time of fellowship and growth.