Vacation Bible School Season Approaches, Churches Gear Up
By Carl Stagner
The days are getting longer and the mercury is rising in the United States and Canada, and the Church of God movement knows that means several things—school’s out (or nearly out), it’s just about Convention time, and VBS season is upon us! We just finished celebrating our graduates of Anderson University, Mid-America Christian University, Warner Pacific University, and Warner University, but now the Church of God spotlight shifts to those putting the final touches on their quintessential summertime community ministry. Vacation Bible Schools are often spread out through the season, but numerous congregations coordinate their events with the dawn of summer break—and a few have already commenced. No matter when it happens, VBS continues to prove a practical tool for loving and serving God and neighbor.
Over the years, Church of God congregations have put their own spin on Vacation Bible School, keeping the community and volunteers on their toes, and adding special appeal and priming the pump for greater impact. CHOGnews has reported that, several years ago, Main Street Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, took VBS “on the road” to a local apartment complex instead of expecting the community to come to them. South Side Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri, has found success designing VBS especially for children with special needs. On the other side of the state, karate has been a unique feature of the Vacation Bible School programming at Southside Community Church of God in Joplin. VBS has a history of reaching families on the Navajo reservation of northeastern Arizona through the Klagetoh Shelter Mission, and in Atlanta, Georgia, a homeowner’s garage was used as a safe and welcoming setting for VBS instead of the traditional church property. In 2019 at the Church of God Convention, it was a VBS-style ministry that invested in children of pastors, lay leaders, missionaries, and other guests of the Orlando, Florida, gathering.
This year, as public gatherings continue to reform and reassemble in a post-pandemic world, several Church of God congregations are actively engaged in VBS season. First Church of God in Madison, Alabama, is spreading the work out over several weeks leading up to their big event. On May 20, their enthusiastic social media post reminded, “21 days until VBS!”
Ravenna First Church of God in Ohio is advertising “Ready, Set, Move!” a curriculum which encourages students to “follow Jesus here, there, and everywhere!” Their promotional material tells more: “Each night dinner will be served at 6 before the kids move with great Bible lessons, worship, crafts, and mission stations until 8:30!”
Power House Church of God in Metairie, Louisiana, is advertising a “Food Truck Party,” during which there will be “new music, amazing science, creative crafts, fun/recreation, memorable Bible stories, and Learning about Jesus!”
And then there’s First Church of God in Norton, Kansas, which is hosting evening VBS this, the fourth, week of May 2023.
Sometimes the numerous volunteers required to pull off a great VBS leads to widespread fatigue in the aftermath of a busy week of wacky and wonderful activity but, as numerous leaders have discovered—and as untold children whose lives have been changed for the better know personally—the spiritual dividends are worth the investment.
What creative approach has your church taken with VBS? Any special programming this year? How has VBS had an impact on your life? It certainly has for former CHOGnews associate editor and cartoon Kevin Spear. Check out his witty and heartwarming blog post and cartoon at https://kevinspear.com/cartoon/vbs-gusto. Share your own VBS story at https://cgm.formstack.com/forms/sharethestory.
Feature (top) photo: Church of God St. Robert, Missouri, decked out for VBS last year.