Vacation Bible school is a summer staple for many churches and children. But what might VBS for parents look like? Hyung-Jun Kim wondered about that after noticing that parents would drop their children off and just hang around waiting to pick them up. Kim is the pastor of discipleship and multicultural ministry at New Westminster (B.C.) Christian Reformed Church. For the past two years, he’s planned parent workshops alongside youth pastor Ricky Aguilar, the church’s VBS organizer.
After connecting with the CRC’s Faith Formation Ministries regional catalyzer Liz Tolkamp for support, the church offered three workshops in 2017 and another three in 2018. In 2017, a teacher led one workshop on child development; a counselor led a workshop on raising children in the Canadian culture; and Tolkamp led one on the importance of “story” on faith formation in the home. Topics for 2018 included creating healthy boundaries and parenting in a digital age. This year, about 10 to 15 parents attended each of three workshops. The majority of parents were from the neighborhood.
Response to the VBS for parents has been encouraging. “The teaching is great,” said Kim, “but it is also great for the parents to meet and get to know each other. They make new friends. When one mom asks a question, many others say, ‘I struggle with the same issue,’ and they become friends.”
The church hopes to follow up by offering parent discussion groups to continue learning, to be accountable, and to encourage each other. Kim also recognizes a need to offer workshops for parents who are not familiar with the Christian faith as well as learning opportunities for parents living a cross-cultural experience.
Kim encourages churches to consider offering VBS for parents and connecting with their local Faith Formation Ministries catalyzer for workshop support. “The VBS parent workshops can be a bridge between neighborhood families to your Sunday school, young family small groups, and other faith formation opportunities.”