By: Caitlyn Decker
For some, summer means vacation; for others, summer means life is just heating up between summer leagues, games and various activities and still for others summer is a time to look forward to going back to school—vacation Bible school!
Although school is usually the last thing on anyone’s mind and certainly any child’s mind of things hoped for, Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a time that youth, teens and adults of all ages look forward to for a time of games and entertainment, food and fellowship and an opportunity to learn truth and insights beyond anything out of a textbook.
While many churches in the Enid community offer vacation Bible schools and similar programs both in and out of the school season, six churches in particular invite you to an inside look at what their VBS 2023 plans hold and further invite you to come, have fun and be a part of them!
OAKWOOD CHRISTIAN CHURCH (JULY 24-27)
The Oakwood Christian Church invites area youth going into kindergarten through those who have completed fifth grade to go on a galactic adventure during their four day VBS program themed, “Christ the Lordian.”
The VBS program will be July 24 through the 27 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm at the church, but youth should be prepared to be transported to another place far, far away to ride ships through the galaxy, meet new and familiar characters and learn stories of God’s protection over various people in the Bible from a time long ago.
The Star Wars themed adventure will navigate through a series of lessons created by children’s minister Corey Briix using games, hands-on activities and props designed by Briix and some of the approximately 300 volunteers who come together every year to make VBS special and something to remember. This year, interactive props and games have been designed with the help of local pilots to give youth a hands-on experience while pointing them to see “Jesus is the Way” both long ago and now, for characters of the Bible and for us today.
Briix said that Oakwood Christian welcomes any youth within the age range to come and experience the adventure, hoping that they will have fun, hear about Jesus and hopefully see him through the VBS adventure and in real life through the volunteers and staff.
CROSSPOINT CHURCH (JULY 9-13)
Taking another step back in time toward castles, knights and medieval quests, Crosspoint Church invites youth ages 4 to those who have just completed fifth grade to explore deeper insights behind each part of the armor of God while discovering what they believe and why in this year’s VBS program themed, “Keepers of the Kingdom: Standing Strong in Today’s Battle for Truth.”
July 9 through 13 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm youth will be engaged by captivating dramas hosted by high school youth from the Enid community that weave a medieval story to introduce some of the truth unlocked each day. Each day focuses on a different part of the armor of God where youth will discover it isn’t mere metal or a fairytale, but provides truth they can be equipped with to take with them. In addition to the dramas, there will be themed songs, crafts and games as part of the action planned to make the adventure come to life for everyone as well as a night to collect an offering for a missions organization.
Hayley Abbott, director of children’s ministry at Crosspoint, says she personally is excited to teach over the armor of God and use the curriculum of the VBS which the church has used for years due to its Biblical accuracy and unhindered truth. Abbott said she feels it’s very important for children to feel welcome and when they come for them to have fun, but most importantly hear the truth of Jesus. She further encourages any youth both in and out of church within the age range to join Crosspoint this summer in their VBS quest through medieval times with timeless truths by signing up on the church website or contacting her with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WORLD HARVEST CHURCH (JULY 17-21)
Colorful characters, action-packed adventures and exciting insights from Scripture await for those ages 4 to 11 at World Harvest Church this summer for their Lego-themed VBS adventure titled, “Build.”
Each day of July 17 through 21 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm youth will build their faith while disassembling a Lego character to find Scripture and truth hidden within each part that they can apply to their lives. This hands-on VBS includes live skits, live worship, games and more for an interactive experience youth can get into while learning to construct their faith on Scripture and truth. Taking the adventure a step further, the final day is allotted as a family night where families of the youth are welcomed to come watch a recap of the week, enjoy food and fellowship with bounce houses, a dunk tank and activities for both youth and the whole family to have fun and spend time together.
Chelsea Singleton, children’s director at World Harvest, says the program has been over a year in the making to provide youth both an epic, exciting adventure and place to learn and really think, showing the need to build their lives on the solid rock of Jesus. She encourages youth and families to mark their calendars for this constructive VBS and prepare to be engaged on a great adventure that the whole family can be a part of.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH (JULY 9-13)
From slips and slides to colorful moves and strategic plays, First Baptist Church of Enid invites youth of the Enid area who have completed pre-K through fifth grade to level up and see how Jesus guides them through all directions of life while having fun on the move through its game themed VBS program, “Twists and Turns: Following Jesus Changes the Game.”
For four days July 9 through the 13 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm youth will be welcomed for a meal before starting around the board on a rotation of music, recreation, Bible stories and activities that maneuver them on an interactive adventure centered on Psalm 25:4 to see how Jesus can guide them through their own twists and turns in life beyond the finish line of VBS. The end of VBS is not the end of the fun though. Every member of the family is in mind and invited to be taken to another level for a family day July 16 to have fun, share a meal, see and hear highlights of the VBS and see their youth participate in some of the activities from the week so no one misses out!
Dakota Unruh, worship and communications pastor, says the church is eager and in prayer to teach youth through Scripture and keep Scripture as the central part of the VBS from the fun and games to the lessons to teach youth genuine truth from it and hopefully be reflections of that as well in how they serve.
Jonathan Gilliland, lead pastor at First Baptist, says the church is excited to teach the next generation about Jesus while connecting with them and their families to get to know them, and he invites anyone to check out VBS and bring their youth within the age range for the truth, fellowship, fun and games happening at First Baptist this summer.
EMMANUEL BAPTIST CHURCH (JULY 10-14)
For those eager to get out and move, Emmanuel Enid opens its doors and floors to those who have completed pre-K through fifth grade for its interactive, hands-on VBS, “Ready, Set, Move! Follow Jesus Wherever He Goes.”
Every morning July 10 through the 14 from 8:30 am to noon, youth are invited to bring their enthusiastic energy, smooth moves as well as real thinking caps to engage in creative arts and crafts, motion-inspired songs, fast-paced games and vivid Bible stories told and displayed by characters that present the Scripture for each day and challenge youth to go further with it. Every step along the way there is a short time following to dive into the questions of why youth are doing what they’re doing to allow youth to really think and find deeper purpose founded in Scripture while also having a blast.
Lori Westfall, children’s pastor at Emmanuel, welcomes any and all youth within the age range to get ready for the action by registering on the church website, set their calendars and go to Emmanuel to have fun and grow! Westfall says the goal is to spread the Gospel and to help kids to truly know God better whether they don’t know him and are willing to come or do and can grow even more in that. Youth of all backgrounds are welcome and eagerly invited to get ready, be set and come move!
GRACE MENNONITE CHURCH (JUNE 26-30)
It’s a fun time! It’s a time to learn about Jesus! It’s a fantastic, superhero themed VBS from Grace Mennonite Church for any and all youth ages 5 to those who have completed 5th grade to embark on and find the best of both worlds.
June 26 through the 30 from 6 pm to 8:10 pm youth will be a part of episodes of action as they take on large group music sessions, two daily teaching sessions of Bible stories and missions, crafts and hands-on activities to flex their skills and knowledge of God to new limits and find that He is greater than any superhero of the comic strips or movies. Volunteers of the church and community come together to present this action-packed and fast-paced adventure that keeps the hands and feet as well as the minds of its partakers active and in motion to give a high-quality experience where youth can have fun while also learn more about an infinite God who is both incomparably powerful and perfectly loving.
Mike Sommerfeld, pastor at Grace Mennonite, says the church sees VBS as a success and something to celebrate when they see youth really realizing who Jesus is and coming to know him personally which is the goal of the VBS program. Sommerfeld encourages anyone to call with any questions they may have whether about the VBS or volunteering, and for either way to prepare to come on an adventure with Grace Mennonite Church to see and learn more of a God who is better than any superhero of our time.
With so many and many other VBS programs going on in the Enid area, the only challenge is to decide which one to sign up for and partake in! For many families the question may be posed: why choose just one? With different dates and themes, youth can go on multiple adventures this summer with committed volunteers and staff to have a blast while learning truth and insights to equip them as they step out of the VBS adventure and into their real lives.
Some churches may appreciate an RSVP or sign up which may be wise to ask as the days of their program draw closer, but for all churches the heart and goal is to have their doors open to give youth a place to come, have fun and learn, keeping the welcome sign foremost which always says the more the merrier and is an open door for people to come as they are.
Volunteers and staff within the church often work unseen long hours (and sometimes nights!) to bring the VBS together—creating décor and props, rehearsing skit lines, reviewing material and more—to give every youth who walks through the door the best experience they could have, so while they don’t ask for a thank you, they certainly deserve one or at least respectful participation with this in mind by those who do attend. However, whether regularly attending a church already, new to the area or not one for church on Sunday, families of all backgrounds and experiences are invited and eagerly welcomed to bring their youth for VBS to get plugged in to the community, give youth an experience they will not forget and one that just may impact their life.