Vacation Bible School--what childhood memories it evokes!
Many of the items hand-crafted in VBS, whether professionally-done or not, find their way to the refrigerator door, to dad's desktop or to that special box of treasures our mothers always kept.
My mother for many years displayed some of my childhood VBS handiwork: a framed print of a rooster trimmed in colored popcorn and kidney beans. I can’t remember now, but I suppose the biblical application had something to do with the familiar story of the cock crowing after Peter denied he was a follower of Jesus.
Back in those days we had two-week schools instead of today’s one-week or one-half week classes. Whenever I’ve suggested tongue-in-cheek to modern teacher-volunteers that we consider a second week, they only glare at me without saying a word.
Our denomination's church growth experts insist that Southern Baptists gain more new converts through Vacation Bible Schools than revivals. So this begs the question, "Why not have a second VBS every year rather than a revival?" I'm not sure, other than the rigors of finding workers and the intensity of VBS. And the summer revival seems to be ingrained into Protestant culture, though most often we find ourselves preaching conversion to faithful Christians who are already converted.
A special part of VBS for me as a pastor has always been the classroom visits when I'm invited to the various rooms to teach that day’s Bible story. It's interesting to hear the boys' and girls' versions of familiar stories.
In one church I was asked to teach Psalm 23 to the children. The theme was loneliness. I wanted to stress the fact that we’re never alone, for God is always with us.
“Although David was in the wilderness alone with his flock,” I said, “he had a special friend who was with him at all times. Who was it?”
Denise, a freckle-faced bundle of sweetness replied, “He had the sheeps!”
We had a good laugh, for, of course, she was right.
The highlight of VBS is the decision time when boys and girls have opportunity to accept Christ as savior. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).
Many of us bear on our souls the fingerprints of patient teachers who taught us in the summertime about God’s love, and in many cases, brought us to faith in Christ.
Vacation Bible School is, indeed, a meaningful tradition in the Christian church.
I hope it continues, if only for one week a year!