Children’s Leaders Take Digital Tour

August 21, 2019 | Youth | Heidi Baumgartner

Washington Conference children’s ministries coordinator Nitza Salazar wanted to showcase the different summertime programs in western Washington to help children’s leaders learn from each other. So she set up a digital tour of 10 churches.

With each visit, Salazar shared short Facebook Live features or photos for the Washington Conference children’s ministry group.

Centralia, Wash., took an interesting approach: The English program was held in the mornings and the Spanish program was held in the evenings in the same location. This allowed the sister churches (Centralia and Chehalis Spanish) to efficiently use the same program and decorations.

“It’s pretty amazing that two churches worked together to do a Vacation Bible School impact,” Salazar says. “This is the first time for Chehalis Spanish Church to have a Vacation Bible School.”

Renton (Wash.) Church extends their VBS beyond an annual summer gathering to offer quarterly birthday parties. “This allows us to keep building family associations all year long,” says Randy Maxwell, pastor, who describes the quarterly parties as quite popular with neighborhood children.

Renton Church also crafted a colorful roadside banner (with a solar light for nighttime viewing) to advertise their program. The banner showcases the program time with space to change out the dates each year. “Banners can be expensive, so this is a creative way to reuse a banner each year,” Salazar notes.

“White Center Church had a great idea to offering information for their Adventurer Club,” Salazar adds. “Why not invite the community to participate year-round in children’s programming? This is an awesome idea!”

VBS programs gave children a chance to engage in service projects. Tacoma (Wash.) Russian Church children collected donations for clean water in Africa. Kent (Wash.) Church children collected 5,000 newborn or size 1 diapers for a local pediatric care center.

It wasn’t just established churches who offered VBS programs. The newest church plant — called Triumph — was started in January 2019 near downtown Auburn, Wash., by Hispanic young adults to reach their English-speaking peers. They offered their first VBS program this summer. Each Sabbath afternoon for two months, the team worked on an amazing display of decorations.

One of the churches Salazar visited has a primary language of Swahili. The All Nations congregation in Federal Way, Wash., was so excited about the Jamii Kingdom curriculum because it was in their own language.

All Nations had a prize table for children who brought five, seven or 10 friends. “It’s a nice way to encourage children to bring their friends,” she says.

Salazar wasn’t the only one touring VBS programs. She arranged for young missionaries to support three congregations who had their first or first in a long time VBS program, and seven congregations engaged in first-time VBS ministry.

“With the 10 programs I visited in English, Spanish, Russian and Swahili, I saw lots of guests, creativity and energy,” Salazar says. “I am very happy and blessed to visit the different Vacation Bible Schools in our conference and bring people along through social media.”