Why would a senior adult church in Arizona with no children’s ministry hold Vacation Bible School at the church?
And how could they possibly do it successfully and even bless other churches year after year?
For Green Valley Baptist Church, located in a senior adult community 30 minutes south of Tucson and next door to Sahuarita, a newer community filled with young families, VBS is the event of the summer.
3 reasons why
Green Valley Pastor John Guillott lists three reasons why the church invests time, people and resources in this effort.
“First, we have the facilities that can handle a Vacation Bible School,” he said. Guillott, who also serves as the associational mission strategist for Catalina Baptist Association, noted that some churches don’t have the facilities or workers to be able to hold VBS.
“Second, we have the financial resources,” he said. Green Valley allocates about $8,000 in the church budget for VBS.
“Third, we have the volunteers,” Guillott said. “We tell our senior adults, ‘This is your missions trip for the summer. You don’t have to leave home, and you can make a difference in the lives of boys and girls and families and be on mission.”
The numbers help tell the story of VBS at Green Valley. This past June, 155 children ages 4 through sixth grade attended VBS.
A total of 60 adults — mostly Green Valley members — served as VBS workers. That number also includes children’s parents who either volunteered or were recruited to help when they stated a desire to stay at the church with their children, said Barb Tingle, Green Valley’s VBS director since 2016.
Plus, Green Valley members are encouraged to see VBS as a missions opportunity and invite friends outside of church to help as well.
In addition, about 25–30 junior high and high school students served as helpers. The teens either attended VBS at Green Valley as children but “aged-out” and still wanted to come, or a parent signed them up while registering younger siblings, Tingle said. A few teens are recruited from other churches for specific roles, such as helping with music, she added.
‘Kicked it up a notch’
Green Valley has held VBS for a number of years, but they “kicked it up a notch” about 10 years ago, Guillott said.
Now, it’s a community event.
“Parents start calling the church in March and April for the VBS dates so they can plan vacations around it,” Guillott said.
Seven children made professions of faith in Christ at VBS this summer.
If they wish, the families of those who make decisions for Christ are referred to Common Ground Church in Sahuarita, the closest Southern Baptist church with children’s programming. Green Valley is like the grandparent church, Tingle said.
“The grandchildren visit a couple of times a year, we love them and send them home,” she explained. “Home,” in this case, is Common Ground, a church that Green Valley helped start.
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Lucy Oliver and Elizabeth Young and originally published by Arizona’s Portraits.