Staying connected is critical component of VBS decisions
By Lonnie Wilkey
McMINNVILLE — Tammy Trembley remembers the follow up (or rather lack of it) after her decision to accept Christ in Vacation Bible School when she was in the sixth grade.
“I was on fire,” recalled Trembley, now director of childhood ministries at First Baptist Church, McMinnville. “I wanted to learn more about Jesus, but I did not have spiritual help.”
Trembley said it is not the fault of the church in Texas where she professed faith in Christ. Trembley was a product of an unstable home environment and had spent the summer with an aunt and uncle who took her to church. She had to return to her home shortly after VBS.
That experience, however, stayed with Trembley and caused her to realize that it is important to follow up with children who make decisions during VBS and to include their parents in the follow up.
But it was not until she was married and had children did Trembley truly realize she had a long way to go in her own spiritual development. “When my son was in the third grade, he accepted Christ during a camp,” she recalled.
“I realized I was not doing anything to support the spiritual welfare of my children. I began going back to church and getting involved,” Trembley said.
The family moved to Wichita Falls and joined First Baptist Church (the same church where she had accepted Christ years before). She worked with children and sensed a call to ministry. She began as an administrative assistant for the children’s director at First Baptist. Trembley went to college and earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
At the same time, her responsibilities increased at First Baptist. She led the Upward Sports program at the church and eventually became the assistant director of children’s ministry.
After 15 years in those roles, Trembley felt God leading her to seek another position. After sending out some resumes and inquiries, she was contacted by First Baptist Church, McMinnville, four years ago.
After prayer and a visit to Tennessee, Trembley and her husband, Marshall, moved to the Volunteer State. “I felt needed.”
Trembley hit the ground running. She led the church to establish BOW (Beyond Our Walls). They began four “VBS-style” events in low income areas in McMinnville in addition to the church’s regular VBS each summer. They regularly transport those children to First Baptist.
Vacation Bible School is a priority for Trembley and First Baptist. “Because I accepted Christ, VBS is important to me. I have a passion to reach children outside our walls,” she stressed.
She noted attendance at Vacation Bible School has increased each year from 102 to 166 last year. Of those who attended in 2018, 32 children accepted Christ, she said, adding that they were able to personally follow up with 27 of them, several of whom have since been baptized.
Follow up is intentional at First Baptist, Trembley said. She invited each child who makes a decision, and their parents, to a new believer’s class.
And, follow up continues through the year. One of the students who attended VBS last year was a young boy from a low income family who continued to participate in events throughout the year. His mother became involved and Trembley eventually led that mother to Christ in the front seat of her car while taking the mother back to her home.
That experience was further evidence that follow up works. Trembley cited research noting that it takes between 12-15 touches or contacts with someone before they “can really hear the gospel.”
Trembley is grateful for the help and support she receives from her husband. “Every time I’m called, he says, ‘Let’s go.’ ”
For her husband, the decision to help is easy because he sees daily what children’s ministry and especially VBS did for his wife.
“If it was not for Vacation Bible School she would not be on that side of the desk (in her church office at First Baptist).”
Reflecting on her life, Trembley knows without a shadow of a doubt that she was saved and believed in Jesus during that VBS decades ago. “But I didn’t know that I was supposed to grow in Christ. No one taught me, but God protected me.”
As a result, Trembley uses that life experience as her motivation to make sure new believers know that growing in Christ is a vital part of the salvation experience. B&R