I confess—I was a doubter.

Many years ago when the Group team planned our first HolyLand Adventure field test, I had some reservations. Would today’s kids really find a Bible-times setting cool? How would visitors react…especially kids who may not have much Bible knowledge? And what about our volunteers? How would they feel about wearing costumes and taking on the roles of Bible-times carpenters, weavers, and bakers?

Well, after the first day, I became a believer.

After the last day, I was hooked.

Here’s what I saw and how it can bring your kids closer to Jesus today.

1. The Bible comes to life.

Holy Land Adventure Set

That phrase gets tossed around a lot in children’s ministry, But this time you truly are creating the ancient village of Nazareth right inside the walls of your church! And it’s more than just costumes and sets. Kids join small groups named after the Tribes of Israel mentioned in Genesis 49. These little “families” explore traditions and customs that people in Jesus’ day would have found common. Kids try out games the boy Jesus may have played. And they hear firsthand accounts of Jesus’ life from the perspective of one who loved God’s Son dearly…his mother, Mary.

All this hands-on experience matters for today’s kids, living in a culture that widely claims the Bible to be outdated, fictional, or untrustworthy. As kids immerse into biblical culture, the “puzzle pieces” of the Bible begin to fit together. The Old Testament prophecies connect with the reality of God’s Son, walking on earth. Bible characters take on skin, emotion, and truth. Long after VBS ends, when kids open a Bible, the stories and words don’t seem quite so mysterious or distant. Kid have context and experience in another world—another time! And that experience makes learning stick.

2. Kids share their faith in natural conversations.

Hometown Nazareth VBS Set

One surprising part of Hometown Nazareth is the Marketplace experience. I’ll admit, at first this shocked me—and a few of our staff members. Your Nazareth Marketplace is filled with shopkeepers and “citizens,” many of whom don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This comes straight from Mark 6, when Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus taught in the synagogue, to people’s amazement. But then they doubted. ”Then they scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.’ (Mark 6:3)

Nazareth bustled with people who didn’t believe in Jesus’ divinity. They thought of him as the kid next door—the carpenter’s son. Your shopkeepers take on these roles, sharing their disbelief with kids. At first, staff members may worry about sharing doubt about Jesus. But wait! This allows kids and their Tribe Leaders to jump in and tell the truth about who Jesus is! We even had a Wise One, roaming the Marketplace and jumping in when kids weren’t sure what to say. This role-play gives kids a unique (and safe) opportunity to practice talking with people who don’t believe in Jesus—something that likely happens daily for kids today! What a powerful way to live out faith and experience how to share the truth about God’s Son! Although it was unscripted, kids wanted to bring these shopkeepers to our closing Celebration each day, welcoming them into the “family” of Jesus followers.

3. Small group time connects the past to the present.

Kids don’t just leave with a head full of Bible knowledge. Small groups wrap up each day with a closing Hometown Huddle. This is where leaders help connect the truths kids explored about Jesus with real life today. For example, as kids are learning the Bible truth “Jesus had a home…we do, too!” they make the connection to the promise of our eternal heavenly home, because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. They celebrate their place in God’s “big house” that Jesus has promised to go and prepare.

This helps kids understand the relevancy of Scripture. They discover that the Bible isn’t just a storybook or lists of do’s and don’ts. God’s Word matters to everyday life, in practical ways! The result? Kids who turn to the Bible as a source of comfort and truth, guiding and shaping their lives long after VBS ends.

There’s no doubt, you’re in for a great surprise! Get ready to see how stepping back in time can reach your kids in powerful ways. A week in Hometown Nazareth truly can bring faith home.

Step Back into Bible-Times for an Unforgettable VBS!

Hometown Nazareth Ultimate Starter Kits

Group’s Holy Land Adventure takes kids back to Hometown Nazareth, where they’ll stand up for their faith among people who doubt that a carpenter’s son is really God’s Son.

Hometown Nazareth VBS Ultimate Starter Kits

You CAN do it! And we’re here to help! Group offers a complete children’s ministry hub of resources you need…especially when it comes to VBS! Best of all, we’re always here to help. Call us with any ministry-related problem, and we’ll help you find a solution. Call our experienced and helpful support team at 1-800-447-1070.