Each year, the beginning of June signifies many things. The weather warms up, summer school starts and churches across Polk County gear up for Vacation Bible School.
VBS draws in hundreds of children across the county for a week of food, crafts, games and other activities, while also teaching attendees stories from the Bible.
First Baptist Church in Bolivar hosts one of the county’s biggest VBS programs, with over 150 volunteers pitching in each year, said FBC Children’s Ministry Coordinator Missy Vestal.
VBS at First Baptist ran the first week in June, from 2:45 to 5:30 p.m. each day, allowing kids to come right after summer school ended.
“By scheduling our VBS after summer school and providing transportation from the schools to the church, we hope we are making it convenient for families to allow their kiddos to attend,” Vestal said.
First Christian has its VBS at night, so volunteers that work during the day can still be involved, said Cindi York, First Christian children coordinator.
Volunteers spend months organizing VBS to ensure that the week runs smoothly. Both First Baptist and First Christian began planning the event in February.
All the planning pays off when the week finally rolls around, the leaders said.
“VBS is a huge, incredible, exciting, beautiful time for us to love God and love others like Jesus taught us,” Vestal said.
Both churches view VBS as a way for kids to have fun while also learning things that may stick with them for the rest of their lives.
“Our purpose is for the children to have fun while learning about God’s love and goodness and His word (scripture and stories),” York said.
Vestal shared a similar goal for First Baptist.
“Our primary purpose is to teach kids about the truth of who Jesus is and what God has done for us through Jesus. We also want to love on kids and families throughout our community,” she said.
This love for children in the community extends far beyond the regular attendees of First Christian and FBC. Both churches encourage children who don’t usually attend to come and enjoy all that VBS has to offer.
“We love having kids from our church, other churches and kids who don’t attend church at all,” Vestal said. “We really want them all to come be a part of this fun week and have the opportunity to tell them more about our loving God and all that He has done for us.”
First Christian invites “all kids in the community” to their week of VBS, including kids who don’t normally attend church.
“It is always good to see new faces,” York said. “Some of the children who come are members of other churches, and some are not. VBS exposes them to what it means to be a child of God, which is a new concept for some of them.”
Organizers also work to ensure that kids who have never been in a church setting feel comfortable while at VBS.
“We want VBS to be educational, relational, spiritual and fun for all kids,” Vestal said.
While at First Baptist’s VBS, students also learn about mission projects, and even participate in one themselves. Each year, FBC chooses an organization to donate money and supplies to. This year, they chose local food pantry Community Outreach Ministries, and the kids were encouraged each day to bring in money donations or food items.
First Christian also selected a mission project for their kids to focus on for the week. Their missions effort concentrated on helping to provide nutrition packets and health checkups to mothers and babies in need in Zambia.
These mission projects teach children the value of donating and encourage the habit of helping others in need.
VBS is “the single biggest local mission FBC does in our community,” Vestal said.
VBS is a way for local churches to teach children in the community while also strengthening their church body. VBS is also a way for churches to attract families that may be searching for a church home, the leaders said.
From snacks to Bible lessons, there are so many things for kids attending VBS to enjoy. Although a few of the local vacation Bible schools have passed, there are still more coming up in the future across the county.
To learn more about future VBS programs in the county, keep an eye out for announcements in future editions of the Bolivar Herald-Free Press.
Any church wanting to announce an upcoming VBS should submit information to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 326-7636.