Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Backyard Bible Adventures, Anyone?

For the past two summers I have headed up a series of Backyard Bible Adventures for preschool and early-elementary age children from my church. On select Fridays, we would go to someone's home for a morning of outside play, a devotional and lunch. Our first year we did a craft each week, and our second year we skipped the craft but sent home party favors. Each time I make a sweet snack in keeping with our theme. And you know how I love to plan a party!

The purpose of Backyard Bible Adventures was four-fold. First, I want to make learning the Bible fun for children. I wanted each get-together to have the excitement of a birthday party, complete with games and activities. Second, I want to integrate faith into daily life. I want my children to move from "playin' to prayin' " with ease, feeling comfortable to talk about spiritual matters and share their faith with others. Third, I want to promote fellowship. Spending time together forges friendship and encourages both the moms and children. And finally, I want to reach out to others. Our backyard parties offer a fun, low-key way to share our faith with friends and neighbors.

Our first summer, enthusiasm was high throughout our season of Backyard Bible Adventures. Last summer excitement seemed to wane a little, though. I feel like the main challenge we face is our oppressive Alabama heat. When temperatures soar, spending time outside becomes difficult and sometimes even unsafe. Most of our BBAs have been water parties, so this helps a little. We could possibly plan some indoor activities, but that could increase costs to participate. Second, last summer I felt the children became resistant to stopping their play even for a brief devotional. Again, this may have been because of the heat, but I don't know what to do to increase their zeal. And third, BBAs put quite a strain on the hostesses. With little ones in the house, getting ready to host company -- not to mention 50 to 60 people -- can be really stressful during this stage of life. I don't want moms to feel overwhelmed by opening their homes.

I really want some honest feedback about Backyard Bible Adventures, so I hope this blog will provide a forum for that. I ask you to search your heart, talk to your children, and pray about our summer. Please register your vote in my poll to let me know if you want to do Backyard Bible Adventures again this summer. And I would really appreciate your suggestions, if you would like to leave me a comment. Whatever you decide, I know we will have a great summer!

Water party fun at Lisa's, Summer 2006

Taking time out to cuddle, Summer 2006.

Playing in the jump house at Sharon's, Summer 2007

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