VBS as Intentional Faith Development

As we move into what have been called the dog days of summer, it is hard to keep the excitement of Pentecost and Easter. They are almost distant memories of our faith and hope. We long for (I long for) some time off; preferably some place cool. And yet, it is sometimes in the summer that our most important ministry can take place. In my casual driving around I notice signs for Vacation Bible School (not just from United Methodist Churches but from virtually every denominational type and stripe). I take heart from this common activity among us. As I have said before, Vacation Bible School (VBS) is not just a nice activity we do to fill the children’s time and give mom or dad a break. It is a basic part of passing on the faith and the way that leads to life eternal. VBS is Intentional Faith Development – one of the five practices of fruitful congregations and fruitful living. A number of months ago I had the privilege of visiting Hamilton UMC. Matt Hall the pastor shared with me the following email which I use with permission. He writes: “This July will mark Rusty's 6th time to attend Hamilton's VBS. During the summers Rusty's grandparents Chuck and Cheryl have Rusty come and stay with them. At Rusty's first VBS he made some instant friends and heard some of the stories of the Bible for the first time in an exciting and creative way. He also made some very close friends. Rusty's friend was Clarlynn, our church organist, who did crafts during VBS week. They keep up with each other and ask about each other throughout the year and make it a point to see each other when Rusty is in Hamilton. Following that week at VBS. Rusty wanted to know more about Jesus. He kept asking his parents when they were going to church. After a while they began attending a church near their home in Dallas. Rusty's grandparents have also shared with me a few of the teachable moments they have had with Rusty. One such moment was related to giving. Rusty asked why they put money in the offering plate each Sunday (this was a new concept to him.) His grandmother shared with him why they offered back to God a portion of what they were blessed with. The next time they were in church Rusty was excited and honored to give a portion of his dollars as the offering plate was passed. Rusty continues to grow in recognizing God's abundant love for him and his family. Faithful VBS workers and grandparents have walked with Rusty in his faith journey and they will continue to do so as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ making a difference in the world.” I give thanks to God for those VBS signs. Where I see them, Intentional Faith Development is taking place. Even more I give thanks to God for the army of volunteers, teachers, and mentors who shepherd the Rustys of this world. Disciples are being made and one small segment at a time the world is being transformed.