Vacation Bible School...what is our focus?
I have always enjoyed Vacation Bible School, watching the little ones learn about God and His people. There is this sense of awe in knowing the children will hear that God loves them for if they live in a home where those words or even the word love, is not spoken, they will hear it during VBS week. My grandchildren love the crafts and music too. Baby Hay, 3, remembers usually one thing, and tells me all about it. Princess, 6, remembers the songs and wants to sing them over and over.
Having been a VBS director, I certainly know the time and effort that goes into planning the week. Finding other volunteers who may be coming home and then quickly changing clothes and grabbing a bite to eat before spending three hours in a noisy environment, can be challenging. But God calls His people to help him get His words to the younger generation.
Missions has become a very important focus of VBS, rightly so. We want our children to know about the efforts of our missionaries and how we can help them. I have not been involved in a church where so much emphasis is placed on money though. We take up an offering at the beginning of the VBS, every day; boys against the girls, to see who can bring in the most money for the mission. That in itself doesn't bother me, except for those children coming for the first time to church and not understanding (nor do their parents) how God is the One who propels us to do good by helping others. To them it seems as if it is just another way to use children to support what the leaders want. At the end of the day, our focus is how much money was brought in by the children and if they bring in enough they will have breakfast with the main characters of the theme. Are they giving because they understand how they help people or are they enthralled with all the hupla and reward.
The children have several ways to earn points so they can receive a prize at the end of the week. The point system involves, coming to VBS, coloring a picture, memorizing a Bible verse and bringing items for the missions, such as toilet paper, garbage bags or paper towels. So when the children are in their small group, they will be singled out if they do not bring an item. Let's say, little Susie comes from a family that brings 4 children to VBS, and they are not financially secure themselves. This causes undue stress upon the parents who tells the child that they just can't afford to send any items. Little Susie then goes to class and everyone else gets extra points for bringing paper towels. At the end of the week, Susie has done everything else asked of her but because her parents wouldn't send an item , she doesn't get as many points as the others in her class and therefore feels shame. Why would we put our children in this position?
I just can't imagine Jesus using our children to raise money. I can see Him using VBS to reach the children and their parents, telling them biblical truths and encouraging them to help others. But let's face it, if you are using this to teach the children about giving in secret as Jesus requires, we have missed His lesson. I took a child home and explained to the mother about the gifts and offering to the missions. She is a single mom with 4 children and a limited income and she loves the Lord. But her response surprised me yet it supports my stand. She jokingly replied, "Well we can't have people looking down on us, so I'll get something for them to take!" Some people may have that attitude for real and it certainly is not what God requires. Now, I know she was just joking but for those not in church, what does this say to them? I believe in VBS and how it is vital for a church to reach the children. I want my grandchildren to attend and they love going to church, but I don't want them to think that they are to give money so they will be held in high esteem and win a prize. We give because God owns it all and we are to help others. Plain and simple...it should not be an extraordinary thing but an ordinary everyday choice we should make without even thinking about it.
That's just it...this is my interpretation and you may not agree with me at all. I am just trying to work through what I feel about how we use VBS as a means to support a mission and not as an outreach to teach Jesus and His ways only.