Call it vacation Bible school on steroids.
At The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, more than 6,300 people attended last week's "Summer Spectacular" event designed to bring the story of Noah's ark to life, complete with a petting zoo and a Broadway-style musical that recounted the tale over three nights.
It's a stark contrast to the VBS days of the past, when kids made praying hands out of plaster and listened to Bible stories before nap time.
Today's summer-based schools are more akin to day camp than Sunday school, with churches using elaborate props, electronics and themed curricula that can be bought from church denominations or publishers.
The materials make it easier for church officials to plan the events and provide lessons that connect to the religious concepts they want to emphasize, church youth directors say.
"I like to say it's not your mom and dad's VBS," said Patty Weaver, children's minister at The Hills. "We believe that God's word is so powerful that if we make it culturally relevant then it will really penetrate the heart of the child. It just needs to speak to their world today. We need to make sure we're telling it in a way that connects with children."
Today, Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth launches its VBS program, which is advertised on a billboard on Interstate 35W.
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