Statistics show that an overwhelming majority of Christians first became followers of Jesus between the ages of 4 to 14 after that numbers drop off exponentially. Behold, today is the day of salvation.
Vacation Bible School – What It Is and What It Isn't
By: Josiah McComas from Simply Scripture on Vacation Bible School
Vacation Bible School started out as a simple week of Bible training for children that over time has become a carnival ride of themed and live interactive learning; but let’s strip away method long enough to consider the bare bones objectives that will help us stay on course with the purpose for which we have been called. People in the community may see it as a chance for free babysitting, but we have given the directive to provide substantive and truthful answers to little minds that inquire, and the sobering reality is that we are accountable for every moment given and every resource afforded.
1. Opportunity to Reveal God
Deuteronomy 29:29 says that “the secret things belong to God but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children…” We are entirely missing the point of the VBS exercise if the children put in our care walk away without taking home at least one revelation of who God is. We have all of creation and His written word to work with, so there is no excuse.
2. Opportunity to Present the Gospel
Matthew 19:14 says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Children love to ask questions, and the more they learn the more they desire to learn. Statistics show that an overwhelming majority of Christians first became followers of Jesus between the ages of 4 to 14 after that numbers drop off exponentially. Behold, today is the day of salvation.
3. Opportunity for Children to Memorize Scripture
Only good things can come from hiding God’s Word in these little hearts. The Bible teaches that His word protects against sin and provides the moral compass to guard against destructive habits; it is God’s Word that sustains us and breathes true life beyond just mere physical survival, and it is God’s Word that reveals the secret to true and lasting success (Psalm 1). Don’t let them walk away without tucking away in their minds as many essentials as possible.
4. Opportunity to Lay a Foundation of Truth
A structure built on faulty presuppositions will crack and eventually collapse, so too, a child may receive the good news with gladness, only to fall away when trials come. Here is your chance to help build a framework that will aid these kids in interpreting the world around them; something sturdy enough to build everything else in their lives upon. It is a battle for the mind that we should do everything we can to protect them from losing.
5. Outreach to Children
Keep in mind that VBS is NOT childcare. There should always be a clear intent to share the Word of God to our children and make impacts in their lives. But parents ARE looking for safe places to drop off their kids during the summer months for work or a break, so the set of objectives carefully crafted by VBS leaders might look completely different than the parents, but both perspectives are worthy of consideration. After all, the position held by both parties essentially achieves the same thing: they bring in a young audience for instruction, modeling and care.
6. Outreach to Parents
Keep the parents involved; and this isn’t just about utilizing skills, gifts and abilities either. It is about encouraging them in their call to be ministers in their children’s lives. To encourage parents to reinforce the biblical truths presented throughout the week. Consider having a kick-off meeting at the start of VBS and inviting parents, and/or a party at the end celebrating the week and reviewing all that was learned. Make an effort to let parents know you are there for them as a church, through kids and family ministries and events, as well as extending any other family resources you have available.
7. Opportunity to Teach Ministry
Here’s where you help kids convert the things they learned about God into good practical use; it’s the “How to be God’s hands and feet” portion of the week. Help them realize a greater understanding and appreciation of what others are going through to open their eyes to act in compassion and love. Nurture the inherent concern that children have and help them find ways to serve. Perhaps you could schedule some kind of community outreach during the week or share practical ways they can take home what they’ve learned in order to serve the people in their own lives.
8. Opportunity to Demonstrate Christian Life
Share what God has done in your life and what you’ve seen God do in the lives of those around you. Give kids the opportunity to share what God has done for them. Be living examples throughout the week of service, love, discipline, preparation, and organization. We need to lead by example so these children can also grow up to see the value of being good role models to others. The Apostle Paul was able to encourage Timothy to follow “…my teachings, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, steadfastness, persecutions, and sufferings” because he was, himself, devoted to live Godly in Christ Jesus.
9. Opportunity to Build Relationships
Fellowship is as important for the little guys as it is for us. It is in childhood that many habits are formed, both good and bad. Teach them to contribute to each other’s lives, to encourage each other, and to help each other grow. VBS week is a great time for teachers and leaders to form friendships too!
10. Great Time for Fun
Children learn best by actively doing versus just sitting and listening the whole time, especially if the activity is fun. Put extra care into creating an environment where kids can enjoy learning and making life applications. Whether you use games, puzzles, acting out stories, dressing up, or singing relevant songs to reinforce the lessons, the experience will be more memorable when there is participation and interaction. And the leaders should have fun too! Joy is contagious and it’s a great way to let the kids know you love God and love ministering to them.
Originally posted at the Simply Scripture Blog. Reprinted with permission