One of the best things Christian parents can do over the summer is to enroll their children in a Vacation Bible School (VBS).
There are a few reasons why a VBS is much more than simply giving parents a few hours respite during the day.
First, the ancient Israelites had many stories important to their faith that they needed to teach their children. And they taught them using all the childrens' senses.
That is, the Israelites taught their children the stories of their faith by having them physically re-enact them. The children would dress up and create a kind of theater in which they learned by performing the stories. They would even sing songs that placed them right in the middle of the story.
And that is exactly what a VBS does.
A VBS is more than Sunday School. It uses all the childrens' senses to help them understand the stories of God in a deeper, richer, and new way. That makes the faith much more real for the next generation of Christians.
Second, a VBS often gets some of the older children involved in the education of the younger children. And by teaching the important aspects of the faith, they learn about Christianity even more.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, children at a VBS see how learning about the Christian faith can be so much fun.
The children are surrounded by others who also are having fun learning about Christianity. There's an immediate sense of community, and that translates into the same feeling of their local church.
That sense of community – that feeling of having a connection to someone else through their faith – is something we all want them taking with them as they move forward in life.
There is something intangible about a friendship forged around the Christian faith that gives it a special quality. One teenage girl who attended the New Ebenezer Retreat Center's VBS this summer told her mother, "There's no drama; everyone just loves each other."
One of the great things about this county is that so many churches offer a Vacation Bible School. And I have yet to see one that does not open its doors to nonmembers.
So, even if you aren't a member of a church or if you have missed your church's VBS, reach out to a local church to see if you can enroll your child in their VBS.
Effingham County's VBS programs are one of the great unsung gems of life here, and they pay us and our children big dividends.