When summer hits, the one thing I can depend on is vacation bible school or VBS to the uninitiated.
I may not be able to afford summer camp but my kids can go to one church for a week and have a boatload of fun. They make crafts, sing songs about Jesus, and have fun snacks.
Some of my friends might think I am a little loony on this. After all, my kids will hit four VBS programs this summer. That can be a lot of schlepping around but it is totally worth it.
They have been to programs with space themes, heroes, heroes and space, and, this week, a cowboy ranch. In years past VBS themes have hit the beach, gone camping and did a VBS in a neighbor’s backyard.
Last week, the kids talked about how they had chicken nuggets at the church down the street from our house. There were cookies and other
goodies. Plus there were crafts and picture frames. One VBS made a door-hanger that had white board-like paper to leave notes.
At our church, we put star sprinkles on small ice cream cups one night. Another night they had trail mix. There was a cheese stick combined with fruit. That was a mixed bag but for the most part, the kids loved it.
Here is what I like. Many of these programs have a mission component. They are collecting money or canned goods or special items to give to people in our country or far away who need basic items we take for granted. Our church collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald Houses. It is important that my kids learn from me, and from others, that giving is the best thing that you can do.
Here is another thought. Who knew you could have fun at church? Many of us grew up being yelled for making noise or fidgeting or running in the church. But during VBS we encourage the kids to sing loudly, which they do and seldom on key. We encourage them to yell bible verses. Then they go outside to run, scream and yell a little more. Suddenly, being a Christian is not some solemn duty. You have real joy in your heart that is reflected in your actions.
Furthermore, a church that has VBS tells me they are open to families. VBS may be a marketing ploy to get those families in the door. But you know if a church is right for you when you just listen and feel. That was one of the reasons we picked our church that we now attend. And it has nothing to do with other churches being bad because the other churches in our area have great pastors and good congregations. This one just struck our hearts in some way.
One of those ways was welcoming our children who are rambunctious, to say the least. Many kids I know are that way. But by giving them the space to do that and teach them how to reflect of Jesus and their faith in him are two lessons churches should give. All of that can happen in VBS.
So this week, as I send my kids to their fourth VBS program of the summer at the Baptist church, I know that they are having fun as well as learning lessons about faith.
I wonder what crafts they will bring home this week…