What is D. V. B. S.?
Said a preacher to a younger servant of the Lord, “Though I have not seen you for some time, I have been reading of your activities. What is this B.V.D.S., where you have been teaching?”
“The initials actually are D.V.B.S.,” was the reply, “And they stand for Daily Vacation Bible School. We call it school because we try to teach the children something; Bible School because Bible stories and verses of Scripture are taught. It is called Vacation Bible School because the sessions are conducted during the summer while the children are not attending regular school. It is termed Daily Vacation Bible School because classes are held every morning for two weeks. What better name could you suggest, Brother?”
The writer of this article finds difficulty in believing that the older preacher was as ignorant as his question would imply. However, personal conversation with a number of people has led to the conclusion that there are Christians who are genuinely interested in the welfare of young souls, but are not well acquainted with this phase of children’s work. For such this article is written in the hope that it will be helpful to them.
As the name implies, the schools are held during summer vacation period. Most sessions commence soon after the children finish their school year, that is, the latter part of June or early July.
Some groups have found the last two weeks of August to be a good time, because the youngsters are weary of vacation and eager for some diversified form of occupation. Actually, the time selected depends on local conditions.
In some areas, shops and factories close for two weeks the end of July or the first of August. This results in a general exodus of people from the district to vacation spots, leaving only a few children for the Bible school. Perhaps an even greater problem is that few Christian helpers are available at that time.
The dates, whatever they are, should be set well in advance and, if possible, at a time that will not conflict with other Vacation Bible Schools in the district.
Publicise your D.V.B.S. well and strive to get the maximum attendance for the first morning. When this is the case, lessons and projects will run more smoothly and the children will make an extra effort to come each morning in order to keep pace with others in the class.
Do not become discouraged if your numbers are not very large the first year of your school. Time is required to win the confidence of parents, but they will be more favorable when they discover how much the children are learning. Soon others will be induced to come.
The prime purpose of gathering the children together is to teach them, not entertain or amuse them. What should be taught? Certainly, teach the Scriptures, allotting a definite time for memory work. Let your children be like Timothy, of whom it is written, “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, but one should specially emphasize those passages which are able to make them “wise unto salvation.”
We would stress the importance of accurate memorization. The care taken in this regard, along with constant repetition of the verses being committed to memory, will so engrave the Scriptures on the mind that the children will never completely forget them.
Teaching should also include Bible Stories and Scripture lessons which will illustrate important truths relative to the Gospel and “the things that accompany salvation” (Hebrews 6:9). Timothy was enjoined, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14).
Teaching a series of associated lessons has advantages over choosing topics at random, day by day, because one is able to build a progressive lesson structure during the two weeks of school. Prior to the lesson, a short review of previous studies will deepen impressions on the minds of the children and prepare the way for introducing the new message.
Publishers of religious literature have placed on the market a variety of materials for Vacation Bible School, such as Directors’ Manuals, Teachers’ Lesson Outlines, Students’ Work Books, etc. Much of this is not essential and a percentage is actually not beneficial.
Some of the material appears to be prepared on the assumption that all the children from the age of nine or ten are already saved. Other lesson outlines are watered down to become palatable to such a wide range of religious beliefs that there is little or no opportunity to present the plain clear Gospel through them.
A few years ago, Gospel Folio Press of Grand Rapids prepared material based on “The Wordless Book”, with lessons on the sin of man, the sacrifice of Christ, salvation through His blood, etc. This set, however, may be no longer available.
Zealous teachers perhaps unduly stress the need for Manuals, lesson guides and work books. There are places where the children have responded equally well without all these expensive items.
Indeed, there is something to be said for the old-fashioned and almost neglected practice of obtaining lesson messages while kneeling alone with God, with an open Bible as the main textbook.
A singing period in Vacation Bible School affords an excellent opportunity for teaching by means of Gospel choruses or good old-time hymns. We would strongly advise against following the modern trend toward light, frothy songs which have little more to offer than a lilting tune and a few catchy phrases.
Teach hymns and choruses which have a definite Bible message. Do not instruct unconverted children to sing words which only a true believer may use. Why teach children, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” and then instruct them to sing lies?
Most Vacation Bible Schools find it advantageous to include handicrafts or hobby work in their programs. This is used as an inducement to the children to come to your class, and also gives them a sense of achievement because they have something to show to their parents afterward.
Where a Parents’ Night is arranged for the conclusion of the Bible School, more adults will be attracted when the children’s hand work is put on display. A good point of contact is provided for talking with the mother as the teacher comments on the work that has been done by the child.
Wisdom should be used to keep the craft work from taking pre-eminence over the true purpose of the school, which is the teaching of the Word of God. Wherever possible plan projects that will permit the including of a Bible verse.
For example, pieces of plywood may be cut into fancy shapes and designs. After being sandpapered smooth, stained and decorated with a picture from an old greeting card or magazine, a good Gospel text may be pasted beneath the picture. Be on the lookout for every possible means of getting the Gospel into the homes.
Use your Vacation Bible School as a means of adding to your Sunday School and also as an instrument for contacting the parents that they may be brought to Family Bible Hour or Gospel meetings.
What is D.V.B.S.? It is another excellent means of bringing the Gospel to the children and of seeing precious souls brought to the Saviour. Let us not carelessly overlook this opportunity of doing service for our Lord Jesus Christ.