So the vacation bible school season around my part of town recently ended. If you go to any mainstream church then you know what I’m talking about because it happens every year. Churches everywhere invite kids, who have been languishing at home, bored, to come to the church and enjoy a week or so of bible school.
Now back in the day, when I was a much younger lad, I also attended VBS during the summer, but boy howdy was it a much different beast than it is now. In fact, I would say that back in my day VBS wasn’t a beast at all. I remember having to memorize bible verses, snack time, worship and some arts and crafts, but these are nothing compared to the monstrosity that VBS is now.
No longer just a way to kill some time during the summer learning the bible and hanging out with friends, a whole INDUSTRY has risen around the summer VBS, with what once was akin to a weeks worth of craft time and singing now turned into an actual production with lights, songs, costumes performances and plenty of parents recording and posting videos online.
Because of our recent VBS season I have been treated to my wife showing off some of the more “interesting” videos her friends have posted online (some of these kids really don’t want to be on stage while others embrace it and run with it in amazing fashion). The most recent seemed like a huge production and it made me wonder: What are the kids taking away from this? I mean, are they really going to learn/remember anything about the bible after all this? I guess they might have good memories about the week, but if the point is for them to learn about Jesus then it seems like they are being drilled more on memorizing cheesy songs and dances than bible verses. Maybe its just me, but something seems kind of wrong with that. I don’t want to sound like a stick in the mud, but why call it vacation BIBLE school if you only spend a small amount of time on the bible?
I remember when my sons and I participated in our churches “Harvest Festival” (a substitute for Halloween) and all three of us were in a bible skit we would do over and over for people coming through the church. The week before we were in practice when the ‘director’, a kind of kooky lady who was a member of the church, was talking to the kids in the skit and informed them that, when the skit started they need to be ‘in tableau’. I knew then and there that we weren’t going to be doing this again. What kid understands that? And that is pretty much how the week of modern VBS goes, with a director instructing and drilling the kids on song and dance, with a few verses tossed in to remind them what the song and dance are all about.
Maybe its just me? What do you think? Does your church do VBS? Do they buy VBS packages with the whole instruction manual, cd/dvd/video and the whole nine yards or is it just here in CA?