I work in the area of leadership development with our Virginia Baptist churches, specifically spending most of my time with those in associate positions including our age group ministers and volunteer leaders. One of the fun, and tiring things, I’ve done in this position is to spend a portion of my summers visiting Vacation Bible Schools around the state. I’ve logged a lot of hours in the car but it is a great way to meet ministers, volunteer leaders and children around our state.
I love visiting with the children! My favorite story is still from last summer. I was visiting in a preschool class, my favorite to visit, and as I knelt down to see what a four year old boy was creating in craft time, he looked excitedly at me and breathlessly said, “I watched Star Wars last night.” We began talking about the movie and I asked him who were his favorite characters. I asked about Darth Vader and he immediately put his hand over his mouth and started breathing heavy, immitating the sound Vader makes, and then he said, “Luke, I am your father.” Best moment ever. This summer I was again in a preschool class and knelt down to a boy during snack time. I noticed all of his goldfish were already missing and commented that must be his favorite. He shook his head and then opened his mouth to show me the mush bits of all of the goldfish he had crammed inside at one time. I love to see how excited the children get, the ones who ask, “Can we do this again next week?” I love to hear children answer questions about the Bible and missionaries, amazed at how they are growing in their faith.
I love visiting with the volunteers. It is amazing to visit with older adults who have been volunteering with VBS for decades. They come alive for this week. I believe that VBS time in our churches can really be our churches at their best. I love to see teenagers working along side adults and senior adults in ways they normally would not. I love to see the creative side of our church members as they take a theme and run with it. I love hearing about their heart for the kids and hearing stories about VBS throughout the years. I love seeing teenagers shining in their first opportunities to lead.
I love seeing our church leaders in action. I admire pastors who are willing to dress up for Bible story time or to lead silly action songs. I love seeing volunteer leaders step up to organize such a huge event in our days of ever-shrinking staff. I love to hear leaders who are asking good questions about the effectiveness of VBS and about the best ways to use their resources of people and money. I admire leaders who take the craft ideas that come with the curriculum and spend hours searching the internet for less expensive ways to find supplies. And the charts…it seems every good VBS has a carefully thought out chart showing where each age group is at all times. These charts are so organized they rival any kind of government strategic plan.
To the churches I visited with this summer, thank you for letting me walk along side you. Thank you for letting me sing and dance with you and adore your children with you. Thank you for telling me stories about your children and the ministries you love to be involved with.
For pictures and description of these visits, go to the Virginia Baptist Children’s Ministry page at https://www.facebook.com/VB.Children. Stay tuned for a series of posts that will share some ideas and some questions from these visits. My hope is that these will help us as plan for ministry.