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Introducing Backyard Faith Labs!

by Sam Heaton on July 02, 2020

What happened to VBS?

So, I love VBS. Not so much because I’m great at crafts and music, because I’m infamously not. I love VBS because it uses engaging ways to connect kids to the basic gospel truths “of first importance” - and, ideally, draws us “older kids” back to them, too. It also provides a fun, organic way of engaging our neighborhood with those truths as well. That’s why we’ve tried our best to plod along with planning our “traditional” 5 day in-person VBS. However, both the city and the CDC released Coronavirus guidelines related to kids summer programs, and after consulting with other churches, the Children & Youth Ministry Team, and many of our families, we’ve decided that a traditional week is not feasible this summer, so we will not be having VBS during the day August 3-7. My apologies if you had set these dates aside on your calendar.

However, I believe that we have chosen a program and come up with a plan that will both fulfill those things that we love about VBS, and allow us to follow COVID guidelines, and I’m very excited to announce it!

Backyard Faith Labs
In place of VBS, we’ll be doing Backyard Faith Labs this summer! Basically, this is a program that combines our kid’s exploration of their physical world with the exploration of their spiritual world - specifically, their faith in Jesus.

Why “faith labs?”

We’re excited about Backyard Faith Labs because they’re

  • Gospel focused. The gospel is shared in meaningful ways in each lesson, and scripture lessons engage kids through different ways of learning
  • STEM based. We believe our faith touches every area of life - every square inch, as Abraham Kuyper would say - and that includes the physical world around us. I love that this allows us to begin to introduce that idea to our kids.
  • FUN! These easy-to-do science projects using household items will be a lot of fun, and I think the engaging way that this program teaches kids will make the lessons hit home in a memorable way.
  • Easy on parents/grandparents/guardians, and easy on budgets. See below.

Who will we do this with?

We still want to have a community feel to this, even if we can’t all clump together! If you’re comfortable with it, you and your kids will do this as a small group with one or two other families in one of your back yards. If you’re aren’t comfortable with that, you can just as easily do this with just your family! We’ll also start each day by Zooming with every group. Groups will be announced on Wednesday, August 5th. Click here for a flyer you can send to friends you'd like to invite. 

When is it?

Our groups will meet on the weekend of August 7th. We will be having the first sesson on Friday at 6:30pm, the second on Saturday at 10am, and the third on Sunday at 4pm. The sessions would be between 1-1.5 hours, depending on how crazy you get with the experiments.

If you aren’t able to do one or any of the sessions that weekend, no worries! You can still sign up and do these anytime afterward with your family - we’ll record the opening celebration that we do for each session so you can play it beforehand. I encourage you to sign up no matter how many sessions you can or can't do. 

What will a Faith Lab look like?

Something like this:

  1. A couple minutes before the session starts, you and two other families will gather together in one of your back yards.
  2. Opening Celebration. For about 15-20 minutes, we’ll all get on Zoom together to start out, where I’ll introduce the Faith Lab, we’ll sing together, hear highlights from each group from the previous session, and do an opening prayer.
  3. Challenge. Watch a short video & do opening challenge.
  4. Devotional. You’ll watch a devotional video and then go through a little reading, discussion, and prayer that I’ll provide.
  5. Science project. You’ll watch an instructional video and then do the main science project of the day.

Okay, but my kids are Zoomed out and I’ve already been a de facto homeschool teacher the past semester.

I hear you, and won’t judge you if you opt out this summer. However, we chose this program because it a) doesn’t require screens the whole time and b) doesn't require too much of parents (or grandparents and guardians). In fact, our aim is to prepare this is such a way it’s less like parents are leading a VBS, and more like you’re participants *with* your kids. While I can’t deny some prodding won’t be required to move kids along sometimes, we’ll do all the prep and make very clear instructions so that you can have a fun time doing this with your kids & your group!

What do we need?

An egg. No, seriously, just an egg, like from a chicken.

No cost to you, and nothing else you need to buy. We’ll be providing you with a Laboratory Box with all of the supplies needed; Laboratory Boxes can be picked up on the church portico anytime Thursday, August 6th between 10am-4pm, or Friday August 7th between noon - 6pm, or if you aren’t able they can be brought to you.

How will we follow COVID restrictions?

Doing the outside in small groups greatly lessens the COVID risk. We’ll provide a short list of guidelines for parents to follow, with things like social distancing when possible and wearing masks when not, and disinfecting surfaces many are touching (there won’t be much). We’ll provide masks, disinfecting wipes, and sanitizer to groups that need them.

How do I sign up?

Click here to sign up for Backyard Faith Labs. The deadline to sign up is August 3rd so that we make sure we have enough licenses and supplies. It’d be very helpful to us if you can sign up as soon as you’re able.