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VBS is not just for primary age children. There is truly something for all ages, and it can and should be a whole church event. It is easy to see elementary students in classes and adults as teachers, but what about everyone else? We’re looking into how toddlers, teens, and seniors citizens fit into VBS. Let’s think about the teens in your church.
Are teens the oldest group of students participating in VBS or the youngest group of helpers? To answer this question, you need to take a serious look at who the teens are in your church. Research conducted in Already Gone and Ready to Return shows that teens have questions about God and the Bible that too often go unanswered. This has been a primary factor in two thirds of young people leaving the church, and many that are still in the church continue to have questions. Why is this?
Most Sunday school lessons, sermons, Bible studies, etc., are not teaching people how to answer the questions of the day. They are not connecting the Bible to the real world. They are not teaching people how to defend their faith — and we wonder why we are losing them. (Ken Ham, Already Gone, 112)
Answers VBS focuses a great deal on giving kids a defense (or an answer) for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15). This defense of the faith (called apologetics) is vital for teens at a time when many of them need answers. If your teens wrestle with these questions, then they really should be VBS students. Let them dive in and discover the truth of Scripture, show them that there are answers to the questions they have, and help them know that they can trust what God says in His Word from cover to cover. Ocean Commotion offers a Teen/Adult Leader Guide that corresponds with the teaching found in the elementary-age groups so that your teens (and adults) can also learn the content.
We love to hear from churches that teach solid apologetics, and to hear from children who know why they believe what they do. If this is the case in your church, that’s fantastic! In this instance, allow the teens to pass on this knowledge to the younger children. Match teen helpers with group leaders and station leaders, or have them be involved in the drama. Allow them to use their gifts in an area where they can make a difference in the lives of the younger children.
But keep in mind that there is still a lot that they can learn from the VBS lesson material. Use the included staff devotionals and volunteer trainings to make sure they are getting spiritually fed in addition to helping spiritually feed the kids in their care.
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