It’s the time of year again when churches around the country hold Vacation Bible Schools in various formats. For a week or more the church is turned into a biblical marketplace or a fun factory or a host of other locales to combine music, crafts, and games to communicate Scripture to children and others. Although the dates may change from year to year, it’s hard to remember a year when VBS isn’t going on throughout the summer.
I was talking with some folks around the Wednesday night table and we were
remembering how, in our childhoods, adults would load all the neighborhood kids up in their trucks or station wagons to deliver them to whatever VBS was going on that particular week. The memories of those days remain with us!
The first recorded summer Bible school in the United States was instituted by Mrs. Walker Aylette Hawes in 1898 with Epiphany Baptist Church on New York City’s east side. She noticed many immigrant children wandering the streets in the summer, so she searched for a place where she could begin a six-week summer school. The only place available was a saloon (!) and so VBS was born! Since then, the summer Bible School has taken on many forms but no matter what the program, VBS is probably here to stay for a while.
The draw of Vacation Bible School is often the colorful, artistic themes that writers and publishers create. However, our challenge remains to present God’s Word in such a way that participants, both young and older, will want to return daily for biblical learning that is carefully encased in engaging activities. Then we hope that the relationships that are created during this time will bring them back for Sunday School and worship. A simple plan, yes?
There is one more component. Students must get here to us so that they can experience the joys of learning through VBS experiences. There is the opportunity for each of us to take a part in spreading God’s Word. Take a flyer from church and share it with someone you know. Plan to pick up a friend and bring them along with you that week. You will be helping to create wonderful memories that can last a lifetime.