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Adventure awaits By Kar arris Golden en


VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL (VBS) has long exemplified the ingenuity of Christian faith formation. The seasonal education program may date back as


far as the 1870s, to the Chautauqua adult education movement. Eventually, the concept was adapted by denomin ations, including ELCA predecessor bodies. Summer retreats, Bible camp excursions and more became integral to faith formation among Lutheran youth. Despite these deep roots, VBS programs in U.S.


churches have decreased by 35 percent since 1997, according to the Barna Group. The drop-off is often attributed to declining worship attendance and shrinking numbers of youth and volunteers. However, viable, adaptable curriculum can help


programs tremendously, said Mariel Spengler of the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM) Curriculum


Committee. “There are several camps that provide daytime programming, or they send out teams to do day camp programs in congregations,” she said. LOM provides Bible school curriculum that allows


users to add their own touches to the content. “We feel it’s a priority to continue creating this curriculum,” Spengler said. “It’s theologically sound, created by outdoor ministry professionals for outdoor settings and congregational settings.”


Connecting beyond our community Curriculum is often a central focus of successful VBS programs, with form and function becoming especially important in ecumenical ministries. Community partnerships have enabled Zion


(Rockford) and St. Paul (Marble Rock) Lutheran churches in Iowa to provide Bible school for the


Summer programs offer fun and faith formation


32 AUGUST 2017


Photo: Courtesy of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Ohio


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