Last week, my kids attended Vacation Bible School, or “VBS” at a local church. It’s not even OUR church, but a few years ago some friends invited my kids to their church’s Vacation Bible School and my kids loved it SO much, they’ve wanted to go back every year. This one is in the mornings, and our church’s VBS is at night, so it’s nice for them to have some fun Bible-and-friend time without me having to rush them out the door to get home for bed, too.
Interestingly enough, as my kids were at VBS last week, a friend shared an article from The Federalist with me entitled “How Vacation Bible School Drove Millennials Away From the Church.” As soon as I read the title, I was all, “SAY WHAT?” Like, how could it be possible that a week of VBS as a child would lead an adult millennial away from the church? I mean, unless they break a leg during outdoor game time or have another freak accident, I don’t really see how singing songs about Jesus. hearing rad Bible stories, and making crafts out of popsicle sticks can cause a 20-something to reject his faith. You can read the entire article here…I do NOT agree with his reasoning that a jazzed-up happy fun time VBS theme is as destructive to child’s faith as the author does.
As a matter of fact, I think that Vacation Bible School can be the most meaningful and impactful week of our children’s lives. Here’s why.
1) Vacation Bible School brings the gospel of Christ, the good news, the thing we ALL need MOST in our lives, to a child’s level of understanding.
VBS is a week of fun, fun, fun – but it’s also a week of Bible learning especially for kids. As parents, we can really struggle to tell our children what being a Christian means or even how to become a Christian in a way that they can truly comprehend. Most VBS curriculum is written and designed to do EXPRESSLY that, by people who are GOOD at it. The ones my kids go to even send papers home that help guide parents in how to talk to their kids about what they learned at VBS. At VBS, your child will undoubtedly be given all the info they need to make life’s most important decision, even if they aren’t ready to do it yet at that young age.
2) Vacation Bible School makes faith and community fun.
In this day and age, Christians and the Christian life are often portrayed as boring, dull, stuffy, stuck up, judgey, and LAME. At VBS, kids learn through fun songs, games, snacks, and crafts, that Christian community can be FULL of fun. They will learn there is a time to goof off and a time to be serious, and that you can do both in Christ’s name. They will also learn that life is more fun with FRIENDS – especially those who can encourage you in your faith!
3) Vacation Bible School teaches kids to love others.
Every VBS my kids has EVER attended has had some component that focuses on GIVING BACK to those in need. The one my kids most recently attended has a coin-collecting contest between the boys and the girls every year to raise money for a missionary family the church supports. Not just for the family, but for a SPECIFIC need they have. This year, it was raising money so that they could hire a preschool teacher for the kids they work with in Nicaragua. My kids would come home every day and not only tell me who was winning the contest, but how much money was raised so far and what the money would be used for. This particular missionary family happens to be friends of our family (the man is my brother’s best friend), so it was cool for my kids to know they were making a difference for Christ, for people we know, and for kids in a foreign country who need an education. At the VBS my own church does, there is always a drive or collection of some kind – last year it was school supplies for needy kids in our own area. My kids learn through this giving that there is more to life than just their own needs. They learn generosity and to look outside themselves.
I’m not saying EVERY Vacation Bible School at EVERY church is perfect, but from my own experience as a child (I LOOOOVED it!) and from my kids’ experiences, I think saying that it drives kids AWAY from Christ and the church is a pretty huuuuuge, unlikely stretch. But, to each their own. I’m going to continue to send my kiddos with the confidence that God will use their time there for good. There are dozens of adult VBS volunteers giving selflessly of their time and pouring into our children’s lives, and I could not be ANY more thankful for them!
Do your kids attend VBS each year? What has your experience been?