School is out and the weather is warm, which means that it’s time for many kids’ favorite part of the summer: Vacation Bible School (VBS). Not only is VBS a fun, Christ-centered summer activity, but it’s also a way to get young people involved in their church. It also provides a unique outreach opportunity to the local community.
“Of course our own children attend and that’s a wonderful thing,” says Michelle Song, VBS director for the Collegedale Korean Church. “But we’ve been able to reach non-Adventist families who, as a result of our VBS program, have become members of our church.”
Song has been working with the Collegedale Korean VBS program for more than five years. She’s helped in many different areas, including music, teaching, and doing Bible lessons with the younger children, but this year is the first time she’s directing the VBS program. She says that every year, they have many community and non-Korean children who can’t wait for their program. She also shares that 16% of the children who attend their VBS program are children from the community.
“There was one year where they were giving testimonies and two of the non-Adventist kids talked about how, of all the VBS programs they’ve gone to, they loved ours the most because they felt it was the most Christ-centered and they see Christ in the people here.”
Recognizing the evangelistic impact of VBS, the Georgia-Cumberland Conference Children’s Ministries Department helps to provide financial support to churches who host VBS programs.
“It is more than just monetary reimbursement,” says Fernando Verduzco, children’s ministries director. “It’s a recognition that Vacation Bible School is one of our best evangelistic tools that churches have.”
The Ringgold, Ga., Church is another church that has also seen the evangelistic reach of their VBS. At Ringgold, the VBS program caters to teens as well as young children. In fact, it’s usually their biggest group every year. Becky Hansel has been working with her church’s VBS program for 10 years, seven of which were as the director of the program. Making sure there was a teen program was something she was passionate about, including when she took over as director.
“We had one [teenage] girl who is supposedly an atheist who came with a friend one year,” says Hansel. “She told her friend that she’d go but that she didn’t believe in God, and she wasn’t going to have fun. And she came every single night, and the last night she said, ‘If I could go to a church that was as kind as this, I might believe in God.’”
Hansel says she simply wants children to look back at fond memories in the church, and think about the lessons they shared in learning about Jesus. She says that Ringgold’s VBS program also brings in a lot of visitors from the community.
“We serve a whole meal every night during VBS, and we usually plan for about 30 to 40 children. One evening, as I’m filming the program, someone taps me on the shoulder and says ‘We have 67 people here; we don’t have enough food.’ I turned around and looked at all the people and said, ‘Oh, wow! Well, I’ll head to the store.’”
Whether a church has two children or 20, VBS programs are an important part of children’s programming. This summer alone, many lives have been touched through these programs — from the children, to their parents, to the greater community.
Georgia-Cumberland | August 2022