“When are we going back to real VBS?”
This is a question I heard repeatedly for a long time. Five years ago our church rolled out a new way of doing Vacation Bible School. I should say “new to us” way of doing Vacation Bible School. Other churches in other places have been doing all fashions of VBS for as long as VBS has been a thing. For years our children’s ministry ran a fabulous VBS. It was fun, exciting, action packed, and loaded with kids everywhere. The building would nearly burst at the seams for three hours, for five days, one week a year. Kids from all over town came to VBS here.
Then someone put me in charge and I killed it. Okay, not really. But you would’ve thought that I hated kids and puppies and candy and all things holy by the reaction I got when I moved Vacation Bible School from day to night and invited the whole family. I say “I” like I worked alone. I didn’t. I was part of a team and I answered to people. But I was in charge of children’s ministry so ultimately, the decision, the criticism, the hate, the good, the bad, the…whatever, fell to me. I was okay with that. God gave me a calling and I had to answer. We needed to start pouring into the lives of families. We needed to give parents tools for their tool box. We needed to encourage parents and show them how to be the spiritual leaders of their households. And we needed to start creating environments for families to be together instead of apart.
Why did he call me? That’s a good question and one I screamed at him from the prayer garden at church one day when the fountain was on, drowning out my yelling from the rest of the staff. He didn’t shout anything back that day but I can assume. I can assume it’s because I came from a good, churchy family that busted up anyway. Even though I had the ruffled dresses and my parents were on all the teams and committees…we still broke up. I can assume it’s because my husband also came from a good, churchy family that went to camps and retreats and they still busted up. I can assume it was because my husband and I decided to fight like hell to not let our family ever bust up. I can assume it’s because I had friends that were doing all they could to keep marriage and kids and church and work and all the stuff balanced but were struggling. I can assume it’s because there’s a lot of pressure – from all sorts of places – to look like a perfect family but it’s so hard. It’s so, so hard.
The first year was rough. Hardly anyone came. People yelled at me. I cried. I cried a lot. So people started asking, “When are we going back to real VBS?” and through my tears I would say, “This is real VBS.”
And then the next year more people came. Maybe because they wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Maybe because they needed to fill summer. But they came. And more came the next year. And the next. And then I started hearing comments like, “This was the first church thing my family has done outside of Sunday morning” and “My husband sang silly songs about Jesus with the kids this week. They were songs they learned at VBS” and “I went to the parenting class at VBS and for the first time in a long time, I didnt’ feel alone.” And then people started joining the church who didn’t even know the old way and they signed up and they helped and they started building a ministry. And then people people would stop me, and other people on the NextGen team, and share how excited they are for Vacation Bible School and that they love the fact that the whole family can come. All of a sudden we had momentum. We had a movement. There was energy behind this thing we do, this Family VBS thing, at Christ the King Lutheran Church. We became a place that fights for the heart of the family. The value was always there. We just started putting action to it. The whole staff joined in. VBS is not just a children’s ministry thing anymore – it’s a whole family blessing.
And that’s why we do it. That’s why we do Family Vacation Bible School. That’s why we ask you and invite you and encourage you to be a part of it. And also because somewhere in my town, there’s a mom who is frazzled and needs her cup filled. And because somewhere else in my town there’s a dad who’s never said the name of Jesus out loud to his kids because he’s afraid he’ll say it wrong. We do it because there’s a mom and dad around the corner from our church who have been putting on a happy face for a long time but they are getting tired and the combination of marriage and parenting they are doing needs a shot in the arm. We do it because families are pulled in a thousand different directions, not just in summer but all the days, and need a few days of sitting at the same table, eating pizza or hot dogs or tostadas. We do it because parents need an excuse to dance with their kids. We do it because God called us to family. And sometimes you have to fight for family. This is real VBS.
If you’d like more information about NextGenKids Ministry at Christ the King or would like to sign up to be a part of Vacation Bible School this year we’d love to hear from you. Just click here!