“I don’t believe in God or the Bible,” the young skeptic says. He calmly lays out his reasons for disbelief to anyone who will listen. For everyone who isn’t as receptive, he raises thought-provoking questions. That may not seem too unusual as far as atheists go. But I should mention that this little atheist is in fourth grade. He has exposure to Christianity, but there is obviously a problem somewhere.
It will surprise no one who works anywhere in ministry that our world is unfriendly to faith. In America, we are dealing with a post-Christian scenario. Those of us who work in children’s ministry cannot assume kids have any knowledge about the Bible or that they think it is true. If they haven’t been raised in a Christian home, many of them may already see the Bible as just a collection of stories that are on the same level of truth as fairy tales. What can we do to help a child who comes with the question, Is the Bible really true? Even Christian children may sometimes deal with a crisis of faith in this area.
A Multipronged Approach to Kids’ Questions
In this article, I’ll highlight a strength of RBP VBS that can greatly help children with their questions about the Bible. It isn’t the only characteristic; we in fact have a multipronged approach. One prong is helping children draw a connection from what they see around them to God’s creation. This reinforces the truth that God created the world, just like the Bible says.
Another prong is showing students that the truths of the gospel are on point with realities they face every day, reinforcing in their minds that the Bible speaks truth about God, sin, and their need for a Savior. We also point to prophecies in the Bible and show children that they came true. For example, children learned in Wonder World Funfest about some of the Bible’s prophecies of Jesus Christ and how they were amazingly, perfectly fulfilled.
Seeing workers and Christian students who believe the Bible and show it in their lives can also strengthen the faith of children. But here I want to address a simple reason that is easy to miss—perhaps because it is so close that it is staring us in the face: The Bible needs to be read and plainly taught.
The Bible Itself Answers Kids’ Questions
Reading and plainly teaching the Bible is becoming less and less common, leading many kids to wonder if the Bible is true. Some have only heard a snippet here and there from the Bible that is used as an adage; for example, “Love your neighbor.” If they do have the opportunity to attend a children’s ministry event, in some venues they get hazy surface film that is skimmed off and presented as Biblical truth. It isn’t surprising that people (including kids) are not believing the Bible when they are not reading the Bible and hearing the Bible itself being presented. Instead, the little they have heard or read becomes a caricature of the Bible.
Now this doesn’t mean Bible teaching should be stuffy. Kids need to learn on their level and in ways that will engage them. Our VBS makes learning the Bible fun and compelling for kids! The Bible teaching and applications are woven throughout the activities of the week.
The point is this: “I don’t believe the Bible” or “I doubt the Bible” is an easy trap for anyone who has never actually heard it read and taught in a compelling way, or what they have heard is so watered down as to be lost in the haze. When that happens, the eternally powerful Word of God has been stripped of its edge so it won’t impact kids’ lives as God intended. Children won’t see why it is important or applies to them, so they doubt its worth and even its truth.
The Difference Our VBS Programs Offers
RBP VBS is different. We believe in the power of the Word of God in the hands of the Holy Spirit for building faith in the hearts of children. There is power in Scripture itself to break down the barriers of doubt. We make VBS fun for kids—that’s important for effectively reaching them. But at the end of the day, we make sure VBS leads them to hear, read, and understand God’s Word and what it says about the gospel and living for Christ.
Our VBS has several special emphases in how we teach the Word of God.
- We present Scripture itself. It is taught on a child’s level, but it is soundly exegeted.
- The lessons explain plainly what Scripture is teaching. We make them very engaging for kids and write them on the kids’ level, but they aren’t watered down so the Bible teaching is lost in the activities and hoopla.
- Scripture memory is vital to us. We explain the memory verses in each lesson so children will fully understand what they are learning.
- In many lessons we encourage older children to volunteer to read Scripture aloud at various points. For younger children, the teacher often reads aloud from the Bible.
- We encourage teachers to have their Bibles open as a way of emphasizing that the lessons come from the Bible.
In faith formation, many supporting pieces can help: e.g., reasons that are drawn from science, the testimonies of Christians as they walk with the Lord, and other data that corroborates the truth of Scripture. But the real engine that drives faith and answers kids’ questions is the Word of God itself. This was so for young Timothy, as it was for his mentor Paul and for anyone who has ever come to God in spirit and truth.
So we must especially focus on that. We must present the Word of God itself to children and help them understand as we pray for the Spirit to work through it in bringing them to faith in Christ and growth in Him. An excellent way to start is by going to Kookaburra Coast for VBS this summer.
Joshua Mason is creative manager of Vacation Bible School at Regular Baptist Press.
This is the second of a series of articles on The Why Factor of VBS. Read more.