VBS Fun for All
By: Zack Owens
As you’re looking at summer camp options for your kids, consider adding Vacation Bible School (VBS) to your list. It’s a wonderful children’s summer program, provided to the communities by local churches. The concept of VBS originated in response to one problem: the need for more time to educate and shepherd children. During summer vacation, school teachers and pastors began to invite children into the church – teaching them to read (using the Bible) and encouraging their spiritual, social and emotional growth. In churches across the Jackson area, this spirit of VBS continues, and not only in traditional Vacation Bible Schools, but also in Sports Camps and other weekday retreats for children.
Here are three reasons why VBS is so beneficial for the children in our churches and communities.
VBS is Immersive
At VBS, children enter a fun, safe environment that is intended to get them fully engaged in getting to know God’s Word on a deeper level. Rather than only filling minds with information about God, or stressing obedience (both very important to spiritual growth!), a fully immersive VBS will go further -to show children the joy of following Jesus at the heart level.
Many VBS organizers choose an overarching theme to engage the imaginations of young minds. The out-of-the-ordinary nature of VBS helps kids see and hear things in a fresh light.
Stella, a mother in Jackson, shares, “I appreciate the church for being such a huge blessing to my child during VBS. He enjoyed every moment of it and he has not stopped talking or watching the video posted online. I’m happy he was part of the program and has learned so much.”
VBS is Intensive
Typically Vacation Bible School is a one-week program. While most VBS programs are scheduled in the mornings, some meet in the evenings. This gives the opportunity for children already enrolled in a daycare or another summer program to attend, and for working parents to participate as volunteers. Talk with the churches in your area to determine the best schedule for your family. There’s nothing wrong with attending multiple VBS locations this summer!
Children spend a significant amount of time and put their energy to good use during VBS. This breaks the routine of everyday life for children – focusing their attention, and allowing for friendships and lasting memories to be made quickly.
As a focused temporary environment that facilitates rapid spiritual and mental growth, VBS serves your family as a supplement to regular life in a church. In this way, your children can go, grow and go back into real life – encouraged and challenged by this environment.
VBS is Relational
Finally, VBS is good for your child because it is relational. Your child will benefit from making lasting friendships through small groups and spiritual shepherding from staff and volunteers. Quality time with Christian mentors may change the tone and trajectory of a child’s life. Check with your church about individuals spending time with your son or daughter. It’s always a good idea to ask questions about staff and volunteers screening and training process.
The best way to learn the benefits for your child at VBS is to jump in as a volunteer. Sheila, a local VBS volunteer, says: “I saw little kids ask big questions, based on what they saw and heard at VBS, and move from fear of a new situation to trusting people, by knowing they were in a safe loving place. I saw children learn self-control through loving instruction. I saw excitement for God’s word and desire to learn about it. I saw volunteers overcome personality differences or preferences and learn to serve together. I saw different generations come together and seek to share the story of Christ. In all of these I saw God’s hand at work during VBS.”
Your Children’s Ministry directors and pastors would love to equip you to use your gifts in the kitchen, on the design team, in recreation or in the classroom. Ask them about ways you can help! You’ll get an inside look into the growth, possible for kids in this immersive, intensive and relational environment, and have lots of fun in the process!
Zack Owens is a former summer camp director, who now serves as the Director of Children’s Ministry at Redeemer Church, PCA on Northside Drive. You’ll often find him over a pot of red beans and rice or out on the golf course. He and Kristen live in Jackson and have two children.