I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the awesomeness that was last week’s VBS experience at our church. We used the Cokesbury Curriculum for Operation Overboard and it worked well with our group. We let kids PreK-6th grade participate in it and then anyone older than that could help out as a volunteer. We had about 40 kids participate as “divers” and then about 13 middle & high schoolers and another 8-10 or so adults.
I know that VBS is touted as fun for elementary kids. I also know that it is fun for elementary kids. The morning sessions cut into the monotony of their summer. They switched from each activity area and weren’t anywhere long enough to get bored. They had fun. They learned Bible verses. They learned songs. They learned stories. It was good for them.
What surprised me the most was how good it seemed to be for middle school and high school students. I know it can be good for them to have leadership moments and a chance to jump into the role of “cool, older youth” but I underestimated the energy they would bring with them into the week.The connections made with high schoolers and pre-schoolers will last forever. And for one week, at least, the teens got a taste of what it was like to be essential in the running of a church. The adults were awesome and tremendously helpful at everything they did and all of the stations they ran, but I think the teens were just as important.
I didn’t train them or prepare them for the week as well as I should have. I think they learned as they went but in hindsight, if I had stressed the importance of little kids being top priority and the need to show up on time and let me know of availability, things would have been easier. Still, when it came time to do the final program, it was the high schoolers who talked the stage afraid little kids into going up front for the songs. I set out food for the meal, but it was the youth group that served everything and stayed after to clean up the kitchen. They did the clean up in terms of un-decorating the church.
I’m not always in favor of creating another church program. I’m not a fan of gimmicks, nor do I think fun should be the guiding force for a church event. It’s an important consideration, but our role as Christians isn’t to have fun, it’s to bring glory to God. Fortunately, that’s enjoyable a lot of the time. Our motive is to worship our Creator.
So I’m thinking now about ways to be creative with all church events. I’m wondering if we can have a VBS-like atmosphere other times of the year. Maybe a shortened 2 day VBS over Christmas break. Maybe once a month doing an all ages, all church activity/lesson? I don’t know.
What I do know is that the energy from VBS is carrying me into July. I am excited to look ahead to the next couple months and the upcoming school year. I can’t get the Dare to Care song out of my head, but that’s okay. I’m still a little worn out from all that went into VBS, but I’m immensely glad it went so well and that we had the opportunity as a church to celebrate childhood and youth in an age-old, church tradition.