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What is Vacation Bible School?

Updated on August 8, 2015
VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne is a mother of 5. She writes about parenting, crafts and games for children, family fun and Christian ministry ideas.

VBS Example

Has your child been invited to Vacation Bible School?

You might wonder what is Vacation Bible School? Vacation Bible School, which is often called VBS, is a program put on by Christian churches for kids. The goal of VBS is to:

  • Teach children about the Bible.
  • Explain what it means to be a Christian.
  • Tell about the history of the Christian Faith.

Vacation Bible School has a lot of fun activities for children such as:

  • Singing
  • Crafts
  • Games
  • Outside recreation
  • Listening to Bible Stories
  • Puppet Shows
  • Skits

What do Kids do at Vacation Bible School?

Vacation Bible School is similar to any kid's club or after school program that seeks help kids both learn and have fun. Generally, each VBS day is organized around one Bible Story and kids will do a variety of fun activities to emphasize what they've learned, such as:

  • Singing
  • Crafts
  • Games
  • Outside recreation
  • Listening to Bible Stories
  • Puppet Shows
  • Skits

Crafts for Vacation Bible School

Ten Commandment plaque from Vacation Bible School
Ten Commandment plaque from Vacation Bible School | Source

Where does Vacation Bible School Come From?

The first Vacation Bible School was created by a Christian Woman in a Baptist church over 100 years ago. She wanted to have more time to teach children about the Bible and to give a chance for kids who did not go to Sunday School to learn about the Christian faith. She chose to do lessons on weekdays during the summer since many kids had free time.

Today, many churches of different denominations do Vacation Bible School programs. VBS is still usually:

  • A Summer program.
  • Often done for 4-5 days of one week during the morning, but also done in the evening, or sometimes once a week for several weeks.
  • Run primarily by volunteers from the church with one or more paid church staff doing the organizing.
  • Free for parents and children (costs are covered by church member donations).
  • Open to anyone in the community.

What Happens at Vacation Bible School?

Listening to a Bible Story at Vacation Bible School.
Listening to a Bible Story at Vacation Bible School. | Source
Jesus Feeds the 5000.  A re-enactment of the story at Vacation Bible School.
Jesus Feeds the 5000. A re-enactment of the story at Vacation Bible School. | Source
Singing Silly Songs at Vacation Bible School.
Singing Silly Songs at Vacation Bible School. | Source

What does Vacation Bible School Teach?

Usually there is one Bible story featured each day. Sometimes there are Bible stories about Moses and the Isrealites, Daniel or the Creation of the World. More often, there are stories about the life of Jesus, his death and ressurection. Often, the Bible stories will lead up to explaining some of the basic Christian beliefs, such as:

  • God created and loves people.
  • People are separated from God by their sin.
  • Jesus came to pay the price of people's sin through his death on the Cross.
  • Jesus rose from the grave, taught his disciples the meaning of his death, and then returned to God in heaven.
  • God sent the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of believers and to help them understand about him and have the power to resist sin.
  • People become Christians by believing they are sinners, recognizing Jesus as their savior, and asking Him to come into their hearts and redeem their sin.
  • Christians are followers of Christ who show they are followers by loving God and obeying him, and by loving other people.

What is Vacation Bible School Curriculum?

Some churches may write their own Vacation Bible School materials and there are free resources for running a Vacation Bible School online. However, most churches tend to buy one of the many curriculum products written for Vacation Bible School such as Group, Go Fish Guys and Lifeway. Often these curriculum are oriented around a theme as well as a set of Bible stories that they teach. Some of the themes in recent years from the top VBS publishers have included: Jungle, Rodeo, Space, Bible Times or a Backstage Concert.

How does Vacation Bible School Impact a Family?

My husband's parents with our children.  They were glad to have their grand children know about God.
My husband's parents with our children. They were glad to have their grand children know about God. | Source

Should Parents Who are Not Christians Let Their Children go to Vacation Bible School?

I think it is important that parents know what their children will learn when they go into any educational program. So parents who are not Christian believers may wonder if they should let their children be taught Christian beliefs. Of course, each parent needs to decide this for their own children, but I do think that parents who do not have religious beliefs might want to allow their children the freedom to learn what other people believe.

In considering this question myself, I've thought about the decisions made by my husband's parents, who were not Christian believers even though they were both raised in the Catholic faith. As adults they did not go to Mass or give their two boys any religious instruction. Unfortunately, my husband's older brother was a person who needed a stronger moral compass. When he got to college, he got involved in destructive behavior which led to an unhappy marriage and early death.

I think that is why they did not protest when my husband, who was 11 years younger than his brother, met some Christian friends in High School and started going to church, and eventually became a Christian. Until the end of their lives in their mid-80s, his parents never showed interest in becoming Christians themselves, but always insisted that faith had been good for my husband, and our family.

As a matter of fact, our faith was also good for them. It was our faith and church which sustained us and helped us to be loving of his parents when they both entered the latter stages ofAlzheimers and Dementia. Our Christian faith also gave us the motivation to adopt from China. Even though his parents did not agree with our faith, they were glad for how our faith sustained us.

Should people who do not believe in Christianity allow their children to attend Vacation Bible School? Every parent must make this decision for themselves, but it is important for parents to know that Christians believe faith is a decision made by each individual before God. Vacation Bible School programs present the reasons for that decision and and explanation of faith, but do not force any child to make that choice. If you have any questions about the program, it would be a good idea to call or email the director of the Vacation Bible School.

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