Nine-year-old Colin McCombs walked through dark caves earlier this week on a quest for light.
While searching, he passed the time by singing songs with his friends and collecting special rocks along the way.
That light is Jesus, and Colin says he found it.
“We’re learning that Jesus helps us find our way if we’re lost in the dark,” he said during a vacation Bible school session at North Charleston United Methodist Church.
Increased efforts to make vacation Bible schools more engaging have had the added bonus of bringing new faces into the congregation. Ministry Feeds, an online blog, says the event can serve as an outreach to bring more people into the church.
Wendy Hudson-Jacoby, the pastor of the North Charleston church, agreed that vacation Bible school over the years has resulted in new faces in the congregation.
“Our main focus is to educate the kids in a fun way,” she said. “But every year, we do have families that interact with us for the first time at vacation Bible school and who keep coming back afterwards.”
She added that it’s important to offer unique lessons and activities during the week. For example, the Cave Quest theme for the church offers “caves,” elaborate arts and crafts stations, and science-based lessons that are engaging the kids.
“When I was younger, there were just decorations on the wall but not all of this,” said Samuel Stevenson, a 17-year-old church member who volunteered at Bible school this year. “I think it’s needed because it motivates the kids to come out and get their spot of Jesus.”
Outreach also plays a role for Spike Coleman, the pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Charleston. Though it hasn’t necessarily resulted in increased membership, Coleman said vacation Bible school still brings more community members through the doors.
“We have neighborhood children who come throughout the week and that’s definitely a good sign. And we’d love it if it helped more families join the church,” he said.
Vacation Bible school attendees enjoyed St. Andrew’s SonRise National Park theme, which showed the kids how Jesus is present across all platforms in nature.
Onalee Avinger, the director of children and youth ministries at St. Andrew’s, said the theme includes science and nature to represent what God created, athletics to symbolize how to have good sportsmanship and songs that help the kids remember scripture.
“Each aspect has a different element to show what God is doing in our lives,” Avinger said. “The turnout has been great, which shows that there is still a true interest in these lessons.”
North Charleston United Methodist is following a similar path.
Allison Wind, the head of the church’s children’s department, said it’s important to incorporate science and art into the traditional Bible lessons kids are learning today.
In her class, Wind had the kids break open special types of rocks to get an important mineral in the center.
“That symbolizes that each of us has something inside of us that makes us special to Jesus,” she said.
Reach Derrek Asberry at 843-937-5517. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.