Vacation Bible school (VBS) is a great blessing because it gives the church an opportunity to do what the Lord has called her to doproclaim the excellences of our life-giving Lord, fellowship with one another, edify God's people for growth and service, nurture our covenant children, and worship the Lord.
For the pastor, it provides an opportunity to do the work of an evangelist and be personally involved in teaching and equipping disciples. What a joy it is to go door-to-door with the children of the church and eyeball them during a lesson! For all the teachers and helpers, VBS opens a door for witness to the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation. It gives covenant young people an opportunity to invite friends and neighborhood children who are without Christ and have no church affiliation to hear the gospel, with the prayer that they might trust in Christ alone for salvation.
VBS is a blessing because, though we are weak, our hope and strength are in our strong God, who is able to save young people and cause them to mature in him.
When I was a tenth grader, growing up at Covenant OPC in Pittsburgh, I helped my mother in her beginners' class of fifty children by sitting amongst the children, assisting with their crafts, getting to know them, and helping to organize recess. The next year I was moved to my father's junior class, where I taught the children memory work and reviewed their workbook with them. The next year I was given an opportunity to teach lessons.
Similarly now at Faith Church in Pole Tavern, New Jersey, we often find young people taking on more responsibility as they get older and more mature. Thus, gifts are developed incrementally, and usefulness is increased in the context of the example, guidance, and encouragement of other teachers. So in VBS, not only are the children who are students being nurtured and evangelized, but covenant young people are being trained for effective service in the body of Christ.
Why all the effort? We want to serve and worship the Lord, and we long for children and their families who are not serving him to be changed and give God the glory that he deserves. Jesus Christ came to seek and save that which was lost. The Father is seeking worshipers for his name. During VBS, we join our heart with the mission of the Father and the Son to seek sheep who are lost and to nurture lambs of the fold.
With the apostle Paul, we are willing to go through the challenges of preparation, planning, distributing invitations, and doing follow-up visitation in homes for the sake of those who are chosen, that they may obtain the salvation that God has prepared for them. Our sharing of the gospel is the means God uses to bring his own to himself, so that they may enjoy this salvation (2 Tim. 2: 9-10). VBS is a wonderful avenue for the announcement of this gospel. To God be the glory.
The author is the pastor at Faith OPC in Pole Tavern, N.J. Reprinted from New Horizons, March 2006.