STATESBORO — Vacation Bible School has always been a key ministry for churches not only during the summer, but for the whole year. As the coronavirus pandemic has made in-person children’s ministry impossible, churches have adjusted.
First Baptist Statesboro joined others with that sense of innovation by holding a “virtual VBS” June 1-5. There, parents drove through the church parking lot to pick up materials with which they would host the VBS sessions at home. Grandparents gathered packets to send to their grandchildren across the country. Missions Pastor Dave Parker oversaw packets being sent to children of missionaries serving around the world.
“Vacation Bible School is one of the most important evangelistic opportunities of the year for our church, and so we didn’t want to skip that,” said Lead Pastor John Waters.
A pre-recorded evangelistic message accompanied materials in the packets for leading children wanting to make a decision for Christ, Waters added.
“We were struggling with what to do,” said Susan Allen, the church’s minister to children. First Statesboro’s VBS typically brought approximately 1,000 people to the building each day, which presented a problem in the times of coronavirus.
“We couldn’t decide when it would be safe to bring a lot of people [into the building],” she noted. “We were looking for an alternative to that, and decided virtual was the way to go.”
Packets included materials for study, a music CD, snacks, and devotion book, among other items. Morning worship was provided daily on three different platforms and included VBS favorites such as the VBS motto and Scripture as well as missions video.
Prayer was the priority in planning, said VBS director Dawn Tysinger. However, it also took a different way of looking at a unique situation.
“We just had to change our perception and go, ‘Ok, we’ve been met with a challenge. But a challenge also means an opportunity,'” she said. “This gives us a whole new opportunity to reach a new demographic of people who are sitting at home with their children and can discuss the gospel plan.”