By: Kristin Devine Mueller
Our Summer XPerience was unlike any other we’ve had as kids from our church, our neighborhoods, and our community gathered online! We learned to Focus on God and to keep our eyes open for how God works in the world around us. We saw God in creation, we looked for God as he revealed himself in Jesus, we encouraged our kids to talk to God in prayer, and we challenged our kids to live for God by loving others. We put together 80 kits for kids to use, and we encouraged all those who had registered to take a kit to share with a friend. Our kids did an amazing job of spreading God’s love in their neighborhoods! We took kits to our after school JAM kids, and we had 29 kids register through ECC. Those two groups of kids received and distributed 78 kits for Summer XP!
From Monday-Thursday, we had kids watch videos online and participate in Zoom small groups. Each night at 6:30, we premiered a video with the lesson for the day. Our worship team recorded 4 songs, including an original song by Meghan Gobrogge, both on location at ECC and on location at Miller Elementary. The lively motions, fun cheers, and oversized glasses made these music videos an interactive and fun way for our kids to worship God together online.
Each night, our video host Kristin Mueller would invite our video host Greg Louk to join the kids in a challenge for the next day. If enough of the kids participated in the challenge, Mr. Louk would fulfill his end of the deal, which always involved some sort of gross and messy task. When we posted enough pictures of how we saw God in creation, Mr. Louk let his dog lick peanut butter off his face! When we shared our sidewalk chalk art, Mr. Louk got covered in color run powder! Each night, we encouraged interaction with our online content by promising that Mr. Louk would fulfill his end of the messy deal. This helped add the element of fun that is always present when we gather together in person with Mr. Louk at Miller Elementary!
While we weren’t able to play games and do craft activities in person, we had a team of people who created supplementary videos for each evening of Summer XP. As kids finished the online videos and Zoom groups, they were invited to watch a series of videos that we posted in a playlist. The videos demonstrated different games that kids could play at home, with things they already had around the house. The videos also gave instructions on how to do the craft projects that each child had in his or her kit for the week. We even incorporated instructions for making your own bubble mix and ideas for using sidewalk chalk to connect with your neighbors!
As many churches have shifted to different models of Vacation Bible School in this season, we were grateful that curriculum writers shifted as well. We had story video content from the Orange curriculum to share each night, and we had small group guides for how to facilitate an online experience like the time we spent in Zoom. Each night, we would gather all together in one Zoom call, and then split into 3 groups based on age. Our Zoom meetings were lively and fun, and we were able to use the advantages of Zoom (such as the mute button) to give our teachers time to share the message of God’s love with our kids.
On Thursday night we joined the team who distributes meals at Bauer Community Center each week. Summer XP families were invited to come and pick up a meal as well as a celebration of our time together! We handed out t-shirts to kids who had participated with us, and we handed out sunglasses with our logo to all the kids who came through the line. Everyone who came through was also treated to Gibson’s Shaved Ice on a hot summer night! Greeting people as they drove through gave us an opportunity to share the sadness that we couldn’t gather in person this year but to also name the hope that we’d be back at Miller for Summer XP again next year.
Our hope and prayer is that this was a starting point for many of our kids and the kids in our neighborhoods to connect with others at ECC. We pray that these video and online experiences gave kids a glimpse into the children’ ministry that we do at ECC so that we can continue to invite our friends to in-person gatherings in the future.
We’re so thankful for all of you who prayed for us, created amazing content to share with our community, and spent time with our kids online!