I love VBS. Some may be residual ‘Debbie Downers’ who hate everything in all seasons and dread the approach of VBS because of appeals to volunteer, long days of preparation, draining bursts of excitement and energy, and the all-too-often short nights of recovery. BUT I LOVE VBS! Don’t believe me? I’m actually wearing my Bible Adventure costume for the first session while writing this! My drama room is decorated with the trappings of a 30AD home in Damascus which the children will enter upon through a train tunnel complete with falling rocks. My helper and I will use each of our 5 senses to engage little hearts and minds in one of the most potentially life-changing experiences of their young lives!
An overstatement? Not quite. I was six months old when I attended my first Vacation Bible School and my mother kept the certificate to prove it. She also kept every booklet of gold stars I received for weeks of perfect attendance in VBS all the way through my elementary years. I remember teachers who loved me and who made learning fun. I remember being excited to go to church. I remember how I felt when I was chosen to hold the Bible during the pledges of allegiance in the opening assembly. I was so proud to get to carry the Bible because it was “the most important one!”
Most often I had the same teacher, a kind and gentle woman named Rose McKee. To my knowledge Ms. McKee was never married, but her scrapbook of much-loved children was as thick as her coke-bottle glasses. Jim McGee, Jerome Brown, and Basil Young (men - imagine that!) led breakout groups, recreation, crafts, Bible drills, and snacks that filled my summers with all sorts of wonderful, carefree childhood adventures. Only two crafts survived the decades: a small pottery Bible in which I had painted John 11:35, “Jesus wept,” and an ornate and shellacked cross of glued matchsticks. The real treasure that survived my time growing up in VBS was my love for the Bible and my rapidly growing faith.
I am convinced that such experiences are important—not just for me but for all children. They are the foundational bricks of faith development and built upon year after year. These early impressions are critically important to how a child will feel about God, faith, Jesus, the church, and Christians later in life. It’s an important part of our “spiritual upbringing.” Did you know that 6/10 Americans went to a VBS growing up? Amazing right? So if you get to partner with us in leading children to experience the life-transforming power of the gospel? Rejoice! Get into it with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength! Pray, pray, pray. And be ready to thank God for lifelong ripples of blessing.