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EDITORIAL: And now, the real work of VBS

As a hot, steamy season of Vacation Bible School draws to a close, many followers of Christ realize that we’re desperately in need of a vacation.
But, after the cardboard Ark of the Covenant and life-size replica of the fish “who did swallow Jonah” are put away, our work has only begun.
It’s a daunting task to coordinate, volunteer or participate in the activities that define a church’s summer months. For many congregations, Vacation Bible School has become a multimedia extravaganza, complete with music videos, elaborate costumes and Broadway-esque, show-stopping musical numbers. There’s little wonder why we’re tired.
We get just a bit concerned about the message we’re sending our kids — especially when the Bible lessons of VBS appear to get lost in the sights and sounds. Will children, as they grow, come to church expecting to be entertained? Will we craft the “worship experience” to meet these expectations?
However, when we see the smiling faces of the children who participate in these activities, we’re reminded that it’s the personal relationships that define the experience. Each summer we have the opportunity to show our children — and thousands of visitors — that there’s more to our faith than punch and cookies. We get to spend time with them, showing them that God really matters to us.
We’re not alone. A recent survey by the Barna Group shows that two-thirds of churches in America offer VBS each summer. About 86 percent of churches surveyed with 250 or more adult members host VBS. We’ve exported the ministry to nations around the world.
With such a heavy focus on our youth nationwide, why do we worry about the future of the church? Are we doing the real work of Vacation Bible School — the work that begins when vacation ends?
Over the years, we’ve heard stories of churches getting stacks of cards bearing the names and addresses of VBS visitors — stacks that disappear into the back of a drawer in the church office.
Is VBS the only time when we’ll see these visitors? Are we using VBS as a gateway to transform young lives?
The need is great. Previous research by Barna shows that 43 percent of all Americans who obey Jesus Christ do so before reaching the age of 13. Two out of three born-again Christians make a commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday. We have no time to waste.

  • Feedback
    When we become more interested in entertaining our guests by using worldly music with changed lyrics, spending large amounts of money for staging and lighting and signing “autographs” at the end of “closing night,” than in simply teaching the wondrous Gospel, we have, in the words of one of my professors at ACU, “We have jumped over the circus horse!” May God forgive us for being more interested in satisfying our “need” for recognition than in teaching His Word!
    Dee K Carter
    Fairmont Park Church of Christ
    Midland, Tx
    August, 12 2013

Filed under: Editorial

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