For generations of children, the Vacation Bible School experience has been the same, with countless churches purchasing the same curriculum as other churches year after year. A local church is transforming the VBS experience into one that includes the entire family. Eastridge Community Church will put on "Go Orange Presents: Secret Service" on July 11 at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. and July 12-14 at 7 p.m.
The seeds of the Go Orange concept were planted a few years ago when several staff members and volunteers attended the Orange Conference in Alpharetta, which is led by the Rethink Group. The Orange Conference presented a program that involved the entire family in learning Biblical virtues. Andrea Hayes, director of Children’s Ministry at Eastridge, left the conference with ideas on how to put on a Vacation Bible School program using the Go Orange concept.
"The Go Orange concept takes red, which represents the heart of the family, and yellow, which symbolizes the church shining the light of Christ, and combines them to create orange, which stands for the partnership between families and the church," said Hayes. "We know that parents have more time with their kids than the church does, so we want to partner with them to further their children’s spiritual development in a family worship setting with tools parents can use to bring the spiritual discussions home."
In July 2008, Eastridge held its first Go Orange family service on a Sunday morning to kick off their VBS program; the service was so successful that they did it again in 2009. Preparations for this year’s Go Orange program began in August of last year. Teams of volunteers have worked to write skits, develop crafts and rehearse worship songs, and more volunteers will help with the programming during the week.
"Go Orange Presents: Secret Service" is centered around the concept of serving in secret. Families will learn how God can use anyone to serve others in humility, no matter who they are. The discussion of service will culminate in a missions night, a new feature of Go Orange. Children and their parents will perform "secret missions" for Angel’s House, a children’s shelter, as well as the Covington Police Department.
The program begins July 11, with family services during the 9 a.m. and 10:45 services. Families will sit together for high-energy worship, drama and teaching. On Monday and Tuesday, parents will drop their kids off for a more traditional VBS program, complete with crafts, snacks, teaching and drama. Wednesday night is another family service to wrap up the week; it will include the missions night.
"Go Orange is definitely going to be relevant, with families learning Biblical teaching with life application and lots of fun," said Hayes. "We want children and their parents to leave excited about serving and knowing they can make a difference no matter how young they are. If families will take the challenge to serve, there’s no telling what they can do to make a Kingdom difference."
According to the Eastridge children’s ministry staff, one of the greatest things about the Go Orange program is that anyone can do it. The church relies on the talents and skills of volunteers to make Go Orange run, and they put on the program at minimal cost. The church built a stage set to be reused every year, and the children’s ministry staff clipped coupons to buy snacks. They searched for bargains for crafts; in fact, one day’s craft material was donated. The staff believes that any church can create their own Vacation Bible School program, regardless of budget or size.
Eastridge is working to take the Go Orange concept beyond Vacation Bible School. The church aligns their teaching series so that children, teens and adults learn the same Biblical concepts in their respective venues, and the children’s ministry provides application tools for parents to continue the discussions at home. Hayes said that the church’s goal is to produce a Go Orange service every quarter.
"One of our objectives is to empower parents to realize that they can partner with us in discipling their own children," said Sherri Cummings, assistant director of Children’s Ministry at Eastridge.
"We want to make disciples who follow Jesus Christ, whether it’s a child or an adult," said Hayes. "By having kids and adults in the same room, we can impact families in a greater way."
Eastridge Community Church is located at 863 Highway 142 East in Covington. Parents can register their children online at eastridgefamily.org before Wednesday, July 7; pre-registration means faster check-in at Go Orange. Children can also register at the door. Anyone who wishes to donate school supplies for the "secret missions" can deliver them to the Eastridge office during the week. For more information, please contact the church at (770) 786-