Above: Joe Sanders (Youth Director) and I after I was pied in the face. I wouldn't let him leave without receiving some himself.
As a child, one of the highlights of my summer vacation was attending Vacation Bible School. As I have been driving lately and seeing the VBS signs, I am reminded of many great memories. Memories of singing to the top of my lungs to some catchy song, bible lessons that always had an activity to follow, puppet shows, making a mess and building crafts, eating ice cream, and the best part, playing outside with friends. Yet, there is one bible school I attended in my teenage years where I had an experience I’ll never forget. When I attended, I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be with the Lord. I was just moving into the teenage years and I was struggling with the many things that Christian teens struggle with: acceptance, trying to figure out life and where it was going, etc. It was turbulent times for sure.
Sitting on the steps of the church with some friends after the classes, I was drawn to seek one of the VBS teachers to ask for prayer. The teacher joyfully welcomed the invitation and prayed with me while tears were rolling down her cheeks. I will never forget that moment till the day that I die. I walked away changed forever by that encounter with God. And it happened at none other than VBS.
For this week’s blog, I’d like to remind my readers of the importance of VBS because I personally, as many of you, have experienced the benefits of it. I encourage all parents and guardians to make it a priority to bring your children (and grandchildren) to VBS. By doing so, you will be a catalyst to seeing their lives changed for the better.
Note some of the benefits of Vacation Bible School below:
1. VBS is a safe, nurturing place for children.
Assuming that the church VBS being attended has their priorities in order, preaches/teaches gospel truth from the word of God (the Holy Bible), and is filled with love for their community, VBS is one of the best places your child can aim to be during the summer. In today’s world, there are many darker activities that would love to take your child down the wrong path. Yet, VBS is a place where Light is present as it is an activity focused on the Lord.
2. VBS is a place of new experiences and discovery.
The first puppet show that I ever seen in person was at a VBS. I had never seen anything like this before then. The first time that I got to goof off with friends on a church bus was on the way to VBS. The first time I heard the amazing song, “Our God is An Awesome God,” was at VBS. VBS is full of new experiences.
For example, at our VBS at Garden Baptist, the pastor and teachers are usually the targets of a pie in the face depending on which side wins the activity. Not many opportunities are given in life to put a pastor or teacher’s face in a pie. It’s all in good fun, of course! Also, at VBS, children are placed in positions where they can freely be creative and discover something about themselves. They are allowed to get their hands sticky with paint as they work on their craft and in doing so, they discovering that they have talent and can do something by themselves.
3. VBS is a place where the atmosphere and environment is informal.
At standard church services, the environment is more structured and formal. Yet, at VBS, anything can happen. One example was at our VBS last year. One of the teachers approached me and informed me that I was needed outside. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I knew that I was needed so off I went. I stepped outside to a human wall of VBS students holding water balloons with a smile on their face. The next wall I seen was a wall of water balloons headed my way. It was too late and I couldn’t escape. As I made my way to the water balloon bucket, it was me versus the world. We surely had a good time!
4. VBS is a place for creating and building new relationships.
The bible schools I attended, I always met new friends. Looking back, some of the friends I still have today were built in the church yard during VBS. VBS also has a way of exposing us to our social anxieties and causing us ‘grow out’ of our fears. When God created us, He created us with a desire and ability for relationships and VBS is a place where relationships flourish. Ask anyone that attended VBS as a child. They will tell you that their greatest memory there was with other people, not alone.
5. VBS is a place for preparation.
At VBS, children are being prepared emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually for life itself. As it guaranteed that the children will face hardships in life as we all do, children attending VBS at least have had an encounter with the love of God through His people. Teachers demonstrate the love of God to the children ensuring that they know they are valuable in the eyes of God. Every single one of them! VBS serves as a place where children can know they are accepted and received just as they are.
VBS is a place of joy and laughter in the midst of a world and time where joy is hard to find. Under every rock is a new worry and behind every curtain is a new anxiety. Yet, at VBS, children are free to laugh and experience joy. Teachers get a chance to be of service to those under them and influence them toward the love of Jesus Christ. The teachers themselves leave with joy knowing that.
6. VBS is a place of salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Assuming the children are there the whole week, they receive a steady stream of the good news of Jesus Christ. Each night is a like a hammer hitting the nail. The more hits, the more the nail is driven. As we begin VBS, we hold the nail in place and as we finish, we finish by driving the nail of the gospel of Jesus Christ essentially planting the seed of the gospel in the heart of the child. At VBS, the children are exposed to the greatest news ever told: Jesus came to live, die, and rise again to save us from our sins.
Be sure to take your children to Vacation Bible School somewhere this year as it will be spiritually worthwhile for your child. As always, at Garden Baptist Church, your children are always welcome. Our VBS begins on June 12th at 6:00PM (this Sunday night) and will go until June 17th. Hope to see you there!