BOLIVAR – Preparations for Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church, here, had already been underway for a month when the COVID-19 pandemic tossed all plans out the window.
Missy Vestal – the VBS director – and the rest of the team met via Zoom and looked through their options, settling on a solution: Drive-In VBS.
So for every other evening from June 1-5, 60 to 70 cars show up at First Baptist’s parking lot where volunteers lead in VBS while kids and their families remain in their cars. They lead in worship, teach the Bible lesson, and even serve the families dinner (wearing masks as they deliver, of course). Each family gets a VBS kit to take home with the age-appropriate materials and activities for each kid included.
“It’s something we hoped would draw community interest and allow the families to have a meal together,” Vestal said.
There definitely has been interest, and like a “normal” VBS, many are from First Baptist and many are not. Vestal had to close registration when it became clear the parking lot would be totally full. First Baptist began meeting in person again May 24, and for some families, VBS was their first real activity outside the home in months.
The theme for LifeWay’s VBS this year is “Concrete & Cranes: Building on the Love of Jesus,” based on Philippians 1:6. Its construction motif turned out to be an easy thing for FBC to decorate. A church member loaned them a scissor lift from his machine rental company, allowing Vestal and others to be seen across the parking lot much better than if they were on a simple elevated platform.
“It has let us connect with people and let them put a face with the voice,” she said. “There’s a lot of horn honking and waving.”
The cones, barrels and caution tape needed to direct traffic and maintain social distancing also lent the parking lot a construction feel.
“God works these things out,” Vestal said. “I completely feel like this was His plan.”
But beyond a fortuitous theme, Vestal said she is pleased they found a way to use VBS as an outreach tool, even when things don’t feel normal.
“God is still living and active and doing things in the midst of this weird time,” she said. “We want to keep the root of what VBS is: presenting the gospel to kids, the truth about who Jesus is, why He had to come and how we can have a relationship with Him.”