The Theme

Choosing a Theme

Choosing A Theme

It is all about love!

The VBS motto and theme song is "I love you and God loves you and that's the way it should be." Sharing God's love and seeking justice with and for all we meet is at the heart of every VBS we create.

I remember a conversation I had with a couple men the summer of 2004 when Holy Cross in Castro Valley launched their first ever VBS. Our theme that year was "Welcome to Hogwarts! the gospel according to Harry Potter." They stopped their car to ask me about our theme. They were surprised that we chose Harry Potter for our theme. I told them that the stories were filled with the gospel message of God's love, and that is what we are all about. I will never forget their follow up question.

"You believe the central message of the gospel is God's love?" they asked with a smirk.
"Well, yes!" I replied.
They just drove off thinking I was completely clueless.

I maybe clueless, but I am clear about one thing, our themes are all about sharing God's love and seeking justice for all people.

The Gospels are our model for choosing a theme. The authors of the Gospels chose stories and concepts that were relevant, timely and well known to the reader at the time they were written. The parables today, for example the parable of the sower (Mk 4.1), or the leaven (Lk 13.20), or he mustard seed (Mt 13.31), may not feel terribly relevant to the modern reader, and yet, in an agrarian society these made perfect sense.

This is how we choose our theme--what stories are relevant and well known to the campers that will join us.

Disney is your Friend!

We have found that Disney/Pixar films have been some of the most well received themes. These stories are filled with gospel messages just waiting for a VBS team to cull out and share with their campers. We have also discovered that the animated films hold the attention of all ages while the live actor films loose the attention of our youngest campers.

Since we only have the campers for three hours in the morning, we have to carefully edit 5 to 10 minutes of a film we want to use to support our theme.

You most likely have been wondering about a glaring problem with using copyrighted films to build your VBS theme around...
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You shall not steal!

Exodus. 20.15

Clearly we are not suggesting that a faith community steal, because the showing a home version of a film is not allowed in a public setting. We could make an argument that showing small clips in an educational program like VBS is considered "Fair Use." The University of Minnesota tool can be utilized to help determine if your use of the copyrighted material is considered fair use. We have an easier route however.

An alternative is to consider the elegant and simple solution I have found that allows us to legally and ethically use copyrighted films in our VBS. Purchase license from CVLI. For a modest annual fee your license provides permission to show thousands of films in your faith community. The parent company, CCLI has provided a licensing service to faith communities for music for many years, and they now provide a similar service for videos.

CVLI's service is great way to legally show copyrighted films and fully support the creative efforts of the copyright holders. It is most highly recommended.

VBS Online
© 1990 - 2023 Mark Spaulding

Holy Cross Episcopal Church
19179 Center St
Castro Valley CA 94546