by Don Brooks, Ratio Christi’s Upper Midwest Regional Director

Earlier this summer, I was able to attend New Hope Lutheran’s Vacation Bible School program, led by Pastor David Rufner, in my area of Michigan. "VBS" as it is known by most is a summer ministry for elementary age children. New Hope’s VBS was held over the course of four evenings. As a former pastor, I love watching other pastors take the time to prioritize their kids by leading VBS.

In my experience, the most common VBS content involves Bible characters, theology proper or character building. All of these have a gospel focus woven into the materials. But what caught my attention at New Hope’s VBS was the unique apologetics emphasis!

This year’s VBS was themed “Is the Bible Reliable?” During my visit Pastor Rufner had put together a courtroom drama that included most of the children and some church volunteers. What was on trial? A published report on the resurrection of Jesus! Pastor Rufner presided over the trial in an Einstein-like white wig and what looked like a choir robe (see photo below article). Very cool for the kids.

The trial was great fun and the students were able to learn some basic principles of historical reliability and good evidence. They not only had a great time, they were introduced to a topic that will soon gain new relevance in their own lives as they enter high school and college.

Last year Pastor Rufner utilized Biblical archaeology as an apologetic. On his church property he dug a 6 x 4 x 3 foot hole. He reported that a car drove into the church parking lot one day while he was standing in the grave-like hole. They turned around and left without stopping.

Then he dropped a deer carcass (mostly bone) which he had found into the hole (finding the remains of a deer is not too difficult in Michigan). He then threw in some old arrowheads and an old moccasin. He covered these items with dirt creating a bottom layer. Above that layer he placed some generic items alongside some coins and documents from the 1960s. He covered this middle layer with dirt. The top layer had modern items from today. He topped off this layer, filling the hole.  

Needless to say the kids really “dug in” and had a great time learning some basic archaeology. After the activity the pastor would highlight an archaeological find that supported the Bible.

The parents whom I spoke with were very thankful that their children were learning about the reliability of the Bible and the “reasonableness” of the Christian faith. They really seemed to understand that this information would be a help when their child’s faith would one day be challenged by a friend, teacher or professor.

There are many ways to do apologetics. So take this short summary of what one pastor is doing and make it happen your way, in your own church. I have been told that Lifeway has VBS materials that address Worldview and Apologetics (see their 2014 apologetics theme here). So if you can’t find half of a decayed deer carcass and would rather not be seen standing in what looks like a grave, contact Lifeway or any other evangelical VBS curriculum that has the foresight to teach apologetics to children.

Several Ratio Christi leaders are in the process of creating apologetics VBS materials. Pray for them as they make their way through this endeavor.

Don Brooks previously served with RC at Grand Valley State University in Southern Michigan.