By Jessica Bordeleau
Vacation Bible school (VBS) is the highlight of summer for many children’s ministries. In a season when congregations usually see a dip in Sunday attendance, VBS still runs strong! Not only does the congregation participate, but community neighbors also join the fun. I know a mother who keeps track of the dates for all the local vacation Bible schools so she can send her kids to as many as possible. She has the whole summer charted out. It gets the kids out of the house and gives her time to run errands!
As a church you look for ways to reach out into the community with the love of Christ—VBS is one of the rare times that the community looks for you. How will you use the opportunity?
Each Bible story you teach is one small scene in the continuous story that points to God’s love in Christ. The Old Testament points ahead to the promised Messiah, and the New Testament shows us who is the Messiah. No matter which Bible stories you teach, the foundational message you want them to take home is that God loves them and has saved them through Jesus.
Typically, each day of VBS focuses on a single Bible story. It is the core that connects all the activities of the day. Reinforcing the week’s theme in multiple ways will allow kids to connect with it using a variety of senses. The day’s lesson plan, songs, activities, and crafts all point to the same story. I’ve even seen VBS programs with themed snacks.
Giving children tangible reminders of what they have experienced each day reinforces the message. Sending home crafts that they’ve made (and craft kits for home) helps children share the message with their parents. It’s hard to overlook artwork displayed on the refrigerator at home!
Another way to connect with parents is to include them in the fun. Invite parents to join the large group closing each day. Ten minutes of fun songs, skits, and photos help parents see what their child experienced. The final day of VBS could end with a family picnic. Parents and teachers can build friendships as they interact over hot dogs and frozen treats. If a meal requires too much effort, try a coffee and cake party. VBS is more than just childcare, it is an invitation for the community to get to know your church family.
Another key aspect of VBS is the way in which your teachers interact with children and their families. Your team of leaders can show the message by helping children feel comfortable and safe. You can enable children to connect with the lesson themes through activities that are fun and engaging. When your team of teachers builds a caring friendship with children (and their parents) the door is open to hear and see the foundational message woven into every Bible story: God loves you and saves you in Jesus!
Jessica Bordeleau is an author, speaker, and producer with over fifteen years’ experience in youth and family ministry.
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