The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


VBS with a twist

When Amy Baker redesigned vacation Bible school at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Rochester, Minn., about six years ago, she drew inspiration from Oprah.

But “Big Give” isn’t fashioned after the talk show host’s favorite things episodes, during which she gave noteworthy products to the studio audience. Baker instead remembered Harpo Studio’s short-lived reality show Big Give, in which Oprah (and corporations) gave contestants money to give away to others.

She wondered whether Bible school, held the third week in June, could use a “big give” sort of twist

Participants receive Big Give details on the first day of Bible school. They learn about (and receive a wish list from) their specific charity. They’re urged to contribute to the list by being creative and thinking of ways to make this their Big Give. 

“We tell them this shouldn’t be your mom’s or dad’s money, but it can be birthday money, or money from chores, garage sales, lemonade stands, and your parents can match it if they want. They’re challenged to give big the best way they know how,” Baker said, adding that a joy of the program is hearing how kids raised money to give away.

On the last day of Bible school (Thursday), the children deliver to the six nonprofits all they’ve gathered or purchased. Then they volunteer their time at/for the organization.

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