Local churches are inviting children to spend their summer with Christ. Area churches are offering Vacation Bible schools throughout the summer.
“We teach what a lot of parents want for their children,” Kathy Manning of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran said. “Some want to immerse their child in Bible studying and the word. In the programs we use, there is a Bible verse every day. We go over how that verse can be true in their daily lives. For those that have never been to church. This teaches them the basics. But for those that have been before, they get the deeper meaning.”
Vacation Bible School is important, Manning said, because it reaches children on all levels of understanding.
“All should be apart and experience God’s love,” she said. “You also get to meet people that share love for children. That is who our volunteers are. It is enriching for them. They need these messages of love.”
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran held its summer children’s program last week.
“We had about 40 volunteers and about 60 children,” Kathy Manning of Trinity Lutheran said. “Last year we had about 65 children so this is about the average number for us.”
At Trinity’s “Maker Fun Factory” VBS children went to different stations, played games, did experiments, watch videos, and went on a Bible quest.
“We wanted the children to know that we are all built for a purpose,” Manning said. “We are studying all the amazing things God does for us.”
Manning is proud that most of the children who attend VBS at Trinity Lutheran are not members of the church. The event has become a community event for them.
“About 30 are from the community,” she said. “The school puts out a booklet with all the area Bible schools in the area. Parents love it. Children love it. It makes VBS more community-based.”
To Manning, Vacation Bible School is all about planting seeds that will bloom into a love for Christ later in the children’s lives.
“We do not do it to gain numbers for our church,” she said. “We want children to understand who God is and what he does for us. It is one of the best ways to share God’s word.”
Recently, Manning met a woman who said her love for Christ came after attending a Vacation Bible School.
“A lady came in earlier this year asking about our Vacation Bible School,” Manning said. “When she was younger, her family did not go to church. As a child, she attended the VBS here. Now, we attends a different church, but VBS planted a seed in her life. She said that she now attends because of the things she learned at VBS.”
Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison is taking a different approach to Vacation Bible School.
Along with their Christian theater workshop that will be held from 9 a.m.to 3 p.m. July 24-28 for first through 12th graders, the church is offering a summer program for younger children.
Weekly story time is held at 9 a.m. June 20 and June 27 for children one-year through kindergarten.
“The weekly Bible story time we are having this year is for children in early childhood,” Children’s Ministries Director Rachel McClure said. “This is also for moms and families with younger children to have something to do.”
The theme for the program is, “God’s Garden.”
“We use Bible stories to talk about God and creation,” McClure said. “During week one, we talked about planting and seeds. We touched and ate watermelon. We also played and touched seeds. During week two, we talked about insects. We talked about ladybugs. The story reader brought worms. We read books about critters and crawling creatures. We did a lot with fingers and hands; we hopped and jumped around.”
During week three, the children will be learning about fruits and vegetables.
“During week four, we will be talking about birds,” McClure said. “After each reading hour, there is a playtime.”
Both McClure and Manning agree that when it comes to Vacation Bible School, it is not about gaining new members for the church. It is about teaching children, and giving children positive places to go during the summer.
“When you go to church, there is a pressure to join,” Manning said. “VBS is not like that. You do not have to join the church after VBS. It is about experiencing God’s love.”