Children running together, creating kites or cross necklaces, and high-pitched voices singing about Jesus almost seems like a distant memory. Oh, how we long to hear those sounds and see those smiling faces learning about their Savior! You may be feeling that hosting VBS is an uphill climb this year, but don't give up! Your church can find ways to share the joys of VBS and still respect the ongoing safety precautions associated with the pandemic.
This year is proving to be unlike any other we have seen in our lifetimes. There are challenges personally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually. One challenge many of us are facing is making decisions about hosting in-person events at church, such as Vacation Bible School. Do we host our VBS in person later in the summer? Do we switch to an all-digital platform? Or is there another answer? No matter how we decide to continue our children’s ministry through VBS another question arises: how do we stay connected and communicate our plans for VBS? The solution: come up with a simple four-step plan of who, what, how, and when!
As a child, the sounds of bells and Christmas carols, the smells of pine and cookies, and the love of Christ in the air are all things I loved about the holidays. My top three memories of growing up at church were the Christmas service, the Easter service, and Vacation Bible School. Why were these events more impactful to me than any other church service or lesson? It could be that they were all held are during a school vacation, during which I had extra time to spend with family and friends. It could be that these are all times when families in the church come together to celebrate our Savior. Or it could be because all of these events are filled with stories and lessons of who Jesus is and what He did for us. So what does Christmas and the nativity have to do with Vacation Bible School? EVERYTHING! The lessons and stories that are taught during VBS, Easter, Advent, and Christmas will follow children throughout their lives.
Mr. Vedder was my VBS crew leader when I was eleven. He seemed super old—except when he smiled. He had a smile that seemed to break his whole face open, and light shone through! He had a loud, hearty laugh, and his laugh made me laugh too.
My family moved last fall, and we’re still adjusting to new routines in our new city and state. One of the major differences between our old and new hometowns is the school schedule. There, kids are in school through the middle of June. Here, school’s out for the summer by mid-May! The end of the school year has snuck up on me, and I’m scrambling to plan some intentional summer fun for my three young boys to fill the days with more than just screen time and naps. I’m taking the opportunity to freshen up our play space, toss out the broken toys, rotate the books, and make things more age appropriate. Good-bye soft infant toys (sob!), hello wooden blocks, LEGOs, and train tracks. Seasonal books are being packed away, and I’m digging out the kids’ crafts and nature activities. Everything feels refreshed, and I feel ready to tackle a new season in our new home.
As the summer gears up, my mind is drifting toward how I can make the most of the opportunities I will have to interact with children and their parents this summer! My calendar likely looks very similar to yours—Sunday School will look different in some ways from the normal school year programming, and we will have VBS starting in a few weeks. Many families are heading out on vacations here and there, and in years past I have done less at church in a sort of one-way “non-compete clause.” Last fall, I heard from many families that they missed chances to be with other families outside of Sunday worship, and I got to thinking that perhaps summer is a unique time in a family’s year where outreach and evangelism can happen in fun, different ways than could be done in other seasons.
When I was growing up, my family did not attend church regularly, so going to church events was never “automatic.” For me, going to a church event—summer picnics, wintertime sledding, VBS—meant getting an invitation. I didn't know it then, but those invitations were more than just invitations to have some fun; they were invitations to learn about Jesus and other important Bible stories. They were my look into the church. Events like these are perfect opportunities for you to encourage your youth to invite others because those invitations could very well be life-changing for someone (like me).
As spring begins to thaw much of our great nation, church leaders and volunteers everywhere are turning their attention to the most wonderful time of the year: VBS! Vacation Bible School is a hugely energetic, impactful, and FUN week when our churches shine brightly with the Gospel directly and on purpose to kids and their parents. Is this week the same as our weekly ministry? Yes, but on a giant scale. In order to reach intentionally into the communities in which we find ourselves, we need partners who will help with this wonderful week.
With the end of the school year close at hand, many of our congregations’ Christian education programs are also winding down and getting ready for a summer break. What can you do to make sure things end well for students and volunteers?
It’s hard to believe that only a few short months ago, we were hosting VBS and watching children learn to praise the Lord. Now that we’re no longer in that season and we’re looking towards next year’s Vacation Bible School, the stories, lessons, and songs from this past year seem so far away.