At Vacation Bible School, you are likely to have children at a wide variety of places in their Christian walk. You will have Christian children who have never thought of any other way of life; you will have children from a totally non-religious background; and you will have children at all stages in-between.
Your first goal is to introduce children to Jesus, to help them take those sweet words, “Jesus loves me“, as a personal assurance. As the love of God becomes real to them and they choose for themselves to be Christian children, your goal is to teach them what that means. God’s Word is full of instruction and encouragement for Christian children!
At some point, though, those Christian children are going to be openly called to defend their own faith. It may be as soon as the very afternoon Vacation Bible School lets out. It may be weeks or months–or years–down the road. In any case, the Bible urges us all as Christians–and Christian children are definitely no exception–to…
sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (I Peter 3:15)
The Lord is God
Many Bible versions use wording that stresses “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” as honoring the Lord as God. Christian children should know and firmly believe, first of all, that the God who has drawn them has power to change them. He who has created them longs to re-create them. He longs to give them new hearts. The loving surrender that allows this change to begin taking place is the choice that turns “children” into “Christian children”.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)
It is this heart-change, evidenced outwardly in the lives of Christian children, that is the most powerful witness for Christianity. This is what we mean when we sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!” Christian children need to know that!
Let God defend His name
Really, this aspect of defending their faith is more like letting God defend their faith. God told His people, the Israelites:
…I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake…And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:22,23)
God loves children; He wants to work through them; He wants to give them the victory over sin. The fact of the matter is, though, that it has nothing to do with children being particularly worthy.
Just like us, they all have sinned. They deserve to be eternally separated from God’s holy, life-giving presence. But for the sake of His holy name, “merciful, gracious, longsuffering”, He chooses to sanctify Himself in the lives of Christian children.
Once children take that step of faith and accept the role of Christian children, they have a lot ahead. Regardless of how pure their lives become–and perhaps because of how pure their lives become–at some point their faith is going to be questioned outright.
That is where the next step comes in.
God’s Word gives Christian children hope
The other part of Christian children’s experience in Christ is communicating with Him through prayer and His Holy Word, the Bible. It is by continually studying this Word that Christian children will be able, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, to ward off the attacks of the enemy. It is also by continually studying this Word that Christian children will be strengthened in their hope and “ready always to give an answer” to anyone who wonders about (or attacks) their faith.
Vacation (what?) School
Vacation Bible School should have plenty of the Bible in it. That should be a given! By teaching Christian children to store up God’s Word in their hearts through memory verse songs, writing activities, and recitation, we are equipping them for the battle–and teaching them how to continue equipping themselves.
By studying God’s Word in class time, Christian children begin to relate to all of God’s people as a family. We must do more for the children than offer a quick, passing reading of a story each day. Dig in and apply the principles to the children’s lives. Teach them how Christian children can find timely, personal relevance in the stories of the Bible.
…All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (I Corinthians 10:11)
Do not even stop there. Just because children are children is not a reason to withhold basic instructional passages from them. Christian children need guidance from God’s Word just as much as Christian adults do.
Many people are prone to underestimate the huge capacity for understanding that children have. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, that capacity is even greater. The children’s minds are growing, and Christian children are hungering for righteousness.
At Vacation Bible School, you have an opportunity to help fill that hunger.
Digging for treasure
According the the children’s ages, help them dig in the Bible as searching for hidden treasure. For Kindies, point out where to find the memory verse for the day. Let them see you hold the Bible as you tell the story. Talk about their worksheets and relate the lessons to God’s expressed will in the Bible.
In Primary, you can start helping the children look up an occasional passage for themselves. Depending on whether your class was largely raised as Christian children or whether they are mostly fairly new to Christianity, adjust the difficulty of finding the treasure.
For example, beginnings and endings are easier to find than middles. That is, Genesis, Matthew, and Revelation are fairly easy to find; while books such as I Corinthians, Hosea, or Esther would be harder.
Large books are easier to find than tiny ones. Psalms and Genesis win out big-time over III John and Haggai.
One method to use is to let the children look up the story reference each day, if it is generally the same book of the Bible. For example, the “VBS–Superstars for Jesus” Vacation Bible School curriculum is based on the book of Acts; and “VBS–The Land of Milk & Honey” is largely based on Exodus and Numbers.
Christian children who are accustomed to reading their Bibles may, even at Primary age, enjoy a challenge of finding some other Scripture referenced in their lesson or activity sheets.
In Juniors, the challenge should be increasing. A good Vacation Bible School curriculum will offer studies for the Juniors to really compare “line upon line, precept upon precept“. Teach the Juniors to use the indexes in their Bibles. Encourage them to read the Bible stories and verses out of their own Bibles at home and in class, as time allows.
Navigating the Bible for themselves is a critical skill for Christian children, and Juniors are definitely old enough to get the hang of it with some practice.
Weave it in!
Teaching Christian children to defend their faith is a key part of Vacation Bible School. It should be woven into all of your plans from the very start. Today, we have not even mentioned how to guide Christian children in relating to evil in the world, and we have just touched the tip of being “ready always to give an answer”. So be sure to keep an eye on the Hasten Home blog…Part 2 of Vacation Bible School: Teaching Christian children to defend their faith is coming up!