Faith Lab @ Home put a new twist on a Kernersville classic
Jeremy and Liana So weren’t sure what to expect when Triad Baptist Church put its Vacation Bible School tradition literally in their hands, and in their living room for seven weeks.
After all, their children Jonathan, Rebekah, Rachel, and David had always enjoyed going to Triad’s campus on South Main Street for a week each summer. They’d learn and sing the Vacation Bible School songs, experience the sites volunteers would create for them, and cheer for their respective teams in the annual penny march.
But the Sos made some new memories together as a family this year.
That’s because Triad’s Kids Street Children’s Ministry tapped Josh Denhart’s Faith Lab @ Home science Bible school curriculum to safely offer the church’s first Staycation Bible School July 12-Aug. 9.
Faith Lab @ Home was the fourth VBS and first home-based program by Denhart’s Iowa-based KidMin Science ministry which stages science shows, creates Bible schools, and helps churches train volunteers.
“Our kids love science so the SBS’s theme really helped,” Jeremy So said of the ministry. “They enjoyed how Mr. Josh (Denhart) was able to tie various science experiments to different Bible lessons.
“We appreciate the fact that TBC provided us with the materials for the projects every week, gave us photo booth opportunities and the chance to participate in the Adventure Ride and above all, the chance to sign up for and see the live chemistry show Josh staged at the church Aug. 15.
“Even with the virtual format, our kids loved the theme songs and wanted to listen to them when they were falling asleep almost every other night. We had a great experience.”
Like the Sos, Tim Gerber, executive pastor for children and outreach at Triad, navigated uncharted territory too in trying to find a safe VBS option for children.
The church launched its first VBS in 1994, and in 2019, the week-long ministry in July brought more than 700 children onto the church’s campus.
With N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s pandemic-fighting measures in place, Gerber knew he needed a plan B so selected Faith Lab @ Home as the ideal mix of Biblical truth with family fun.
He figured extending the program to seven weeks also would give parents more flexibility which proved true.
Overall, Gerber said, more than 200 families and over 400 individual participants participated from across the Piedmont and beyond, with another 350 attending one of Denhart’s two live shows at Triad.
“It was very hands-on and not just sit back and watch,” Gerber said. “Josh would say, ‘here’s the rules, here’s the parameters and now take this and see what you can come up with’ which created a lot of opportunities for family brainstorms and trial and error.
“It proved the old adage true that if you just see it, you get 50%. If you hear it, you get 50% percent. If you see and hear it, 70%. And if you see, hear and do it, 100%,” he said. “Once we get past COVID and are able to have Vacation Bible School back on our campus, I think you’ll see us incorporate more hands-on experiences.”
In addition to Triad, the church gave three other churches access to Denhart’s Faith Lab @ Home portal so their families and church could participate, and also shared the link with the 61 missionaries the church supports in 27 countries.
Pastor Scott Adamsons and his Lighthouse Baptist Church in Eden, North Carolina, had five families sign up. He in turn shared the program with Liberty Baptist Church in Reidsville, where five more families followed along with the video-based sessions.
“The ministry was a success in that it set aside time for parents and their children to work on projects together and learn lessons from the Bible,” Adamsons said. “In our pre-COVID culture, it almost seemed unnatural for adults to take a leadership role in teaching their children, and many times religious training was deferred to the church.
“With the nationwide shutdown since then, and home-based learning initiatives, Faith Lab @ Home was the perfect way to reintroduce families to the blessing that God provided parents — an opportunity and responsibility to be responsible for the upbringing of their children. It’s an important message I’m underscoring from the pulpit this fall.”
Chris Thompson, who leads children’s ministry at City Park Church in Winston-Salem — Triad’s first church plant — said 10 families participated weekly there in Faith Lab @ Home.
“The Faith Lab @ Home SBS was great for us at City Park Church as we didn’t have an opportunity to make formal plans for VBS before COVID 19 hit,” Thompson said.
“While nothing can truly replace a VBS experience, this was a great alternative,” he said. “Having SBS in homes ensured we were in a safe environment. The kids told me on Sundays when we got together that they loved it, and it probably meant more to them since their parents shared the same experience.”
For Denhart, who created Faith Lab @ Home in mere days after the arrival of COVID in March, the partnership with Triad not only meant more home use of the KidMin Science curriculum.
It also gave him his first opportunity to travel and interact an audience — seated apart and divided into two shows to ensure safe social distance — since the pandemic.
“The Amazing Chemistry Shows at TBC were wonderful, and I felt right at home there,” he said. “One mother said, “I have never see anything like this. It was very moving for me and a valuable experience for me and my children.’
“I know God met her and comforted her in a way that only He can, and the experience was invaluable for me as well as I had not had an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ through ‘The Amazing Chemistry Show’ in so many months,” Denhart said.
“The experience at Triad in Kernersville reminded me how much I love to share my faith through the ministry of chemistry.”