As they say in Hollywood, that’s a wrap! From May to August, churches across the country (and around the world) cranked up the fun with week-long Vacation Bible School events focused on sharing the good news of Jesus with kids in the community.
With VBS 2017 in the books, let’s look back and celebrate what God did through churches coast to coast! We reached out to VBS leaders across the country to hear about the highlights and outtakes that made this their best year ever.
VBS Highlights – Classicly Cute
Whenever you work with kids, you’re bound to encounter moments when the precocious-meter goes to 100.
- Jenn Patteson a VBS leader at River of Life Family Church in Lebanon, PA sat in church on the Sunday after wrapping up Maker Fun Factory VBS the week before. She was just about ready to get back into the “normal church” routine when the Pastor mentioned Rahab. Without missing a beat a little voice from somewhere in the church shouted out, “WOW GOD!”
- Pastor Carlos and Gladys Rivera of Church of the Redeemer, a Spanish speaking congregation in Brooklyn, NY explained that their worship music has a Latin flair that sometimes inspires fancy footwork. On the Sunday after VBS, the kids were invited to perform some of the songs they’d learned for the congregation. Suddenly there was laughter coming from the back as a little girl had begun dancing toward the front of the stage with all the gusto she could muster. Everybody laughed and cheered her on in her excitement for praising God.
- Stacia McKeever helps lead VBS at her church in Ohio, and she also happens to be the Project Manager for Answers VBS curriculum. She shared a story with us of a moment when a grandmother was overheard talking to her granddaughter. She told the little girl that she remembered receiving her very first Bible at VBS a long time ago, but lamented that it’s gotten tattered over the years. The little girl didn’t hesitate to say a line quoted in the Operation Arctic curriculum, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”
VBS Highlights – Fingerprints of the Father
Working in ministry is often a lot of hard work and headaches. The busy-ness of VBS can often blind you to the things God is doing through you. But when you suddenly see His unmistakeable fingerprints on the work and the hearts of those around you, that’s all you can talk about for years to come.
- Gladys Rivera noted that one of the most exciting outcomes of VBS was the unity of the staff and volunteers under the purpose God had given them, to reach out with love to a fallen world.
- Back in Pennsylvania, Jenn Patteson was dealing with a particularly naughty boy who kept bullying a little girl. Jenn held back a bit on the discipline because he was new to church and she didn’t want to scare him away. But he kept tormenting the girl. “If you don’t stop being mean to other kids,” Jenn finally warned, “I will walk you home myself.” The next day however, he accidentally hurt another boy. Instead of hearing tears from the hurt boy, the reformed bully was crying, and hard. God was working on his little heart and he truly didn’t want to leave VBS.
- Right when VBS was starting at Stacia McKeever’s church, a lady showed up at the church to ask for help with an electric bill. She happened to have her kids in tow so the VBS leaders jumped in with an invitation to stay. The Mom and kids stayed that day, and she brought them back every day after that. Isn’t it like our God that when we come asking for something so small, He turns around and gives so much more?
- Amanda McDaniel is Kids Ministry Administrator at the Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth, CA. Leading up to VBS she had three kids with special needs that the team was concerned might be challenging for their crew and leaders. But instead of being a challenge, something amazing happened. The crews were welcoming and inclusive. They helped keep the new kids engaged and connected throughout VBS. It was amazing to see that their regularly attending kids were treating others the way they would want to be treated.
VBS Highlights – Game-Changers & Gimmicks
Creativity is an incredible gift from God. Sometimes the people on your team will blow you away with out-of-the-box innovations and shortcuts that make Vacation Bible School a breeze!
- For the VBS team at Church of the Redeemer in Brooklyn, their game-changer was providing VBS sessions for the adults as well as the kids. This meant more parents got involved with serving and more parents (young and old) heard and responded to the Good News!
- Amanda Blake served with the VBS team at Octavia Baptist Church in Smithville, OK. She told us that they decided not to break kids into crews by age group. Rather they packed each crew with a responsible crew leader and kids of all ages. This gave kids and adult helpers a chance to get to know a broad variety of the kids at their church. And it helped the older kids mature as they cared for and helped the younger ones. With so much of church life broken up into age groups, they found that this innovative idea provided a relational bonus they felt like they’d been missing.
- Rachel Miller from Mountain View Baptist Church in Holyoke, MA told us that the t-shirts made all the difference as they sent the church bus into the community to invite kids to VBS. “It’s vitally important for our staff to stand out in such a large crowd of kids, as well as the bus areas where our workers run from house to house. It sets us apart, and the parents know who we are when we pick up their kids.”
VBS Highlights – Good News News
Of course the most important goal of any VBS is to see children and families move from the dominion darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son. We are so excited to share this news of Good News received!
- Some kids whose mother only brings them to church for VBS told Jenn Patteson that they only go to church when they visit their Grandfather in Puerto Rico. Later, the Mom said the kids were driving her crazy asking to go back to church even after VBS was over. She said they had called their Grandfather every day to sing him songs they’d learned. Jenn seemed to tear up when she said, “When the kids leave VBS with the seeds you’ve planted, you wonder, ‘is it gonna return?’ I know I have a solid return with those kids right there.”
- In Brooklyn, the church saw a family come to faith bit by bit over the week of VBS. First the kids, then the Mom, and then the Dad finally gave his life to Christ on Friday. Turning from their old life, now the parents are making plans to get married!
- During the Thursday large group session at Rocky Peak, one of the crew leaders had to take several of her kids to the restroom leaving a couple of kids in the care of other leaders. Just then the Gospel message was declared and kids were asked to raise their hands if they wanted to receive Jesus as their Savior. A little girl from the crew raised her hand, but without her leader there nobody was nearby to notice.* At that moment, a craft leader happened to look over and see her putting her hand back down. The craft leader was able to go over and follow up with the girl and encourage her in her new faith in Christ.
- The highlight of the week at Mountain View Baptist was that 75 kids professed Christ as their Savior. Each child had a one-on-one, clear presentation of the Gospel, “and each decided on their own that they wanted Christ to be Lord of their life.”
- Stacia of Answers VBS told us that she and her team pray through every step of the process to write and produce their VBS curriculum, asking God to use their efforts to glorify and please Him. She said they don’t know all that He will do with it, but they simply remain faithful to the task and leave the fruit to God. One missionary took Operation Arctic to a church in Latin America that serves 300 kids rescued from human trafficking. Each one of those children heard the Gospel clearly – that God loves them dearly and delights in saving them. The Answers team marveled that they never could have imagined their work would be used to bring hope in such a terrible situation.
We’re so grateful to have the opportunity to hear these (and many more) wonderful stories from VBS leaders across the U.S. It’s an amazing celebration of God’s love and care for His church and His children.
Do you have a story from your Vacation Bible School to share with the world? Leave a comment below and/or share about it in a post on our Facebook wall.