Saturday, June 20, 2009

Becoming a Better Godparent--Vacation Bible School

I've just spent a week being very involved with my church's Vacation Bible School, which was a great experience for me, and an even better experience for all the children and teenagers. I live too far away from my godchild (my nephew) to take him to Vacation Bible School with me. Luckily, my mom plans to take him to her Vacation Bible School with her.

I understand how hard it must be for working families to commit to Vacation Bible School. When we were done with our intense week, I just wanted to collapse in a heap, with my 40+ hour work week and several hours of VBS on top of that. Some of our parents dropped their children off at VBS, but most of them stayed to help.

So, if you're a godparent and you think that VBS helps with spiritual formation, what are your options? Obviously, if you live near your godchild, you can get involved with VBS, and you can make sure that your godchild participates too.

But what if you don't live in the same area? You could still help with your church's VBS, and you could send your child dispatches from your experience; send a daily e-mail or letter to let your godchild know what you've been doing and how much fun you've been having. Maybe your godchild will encourage his or her parents to investigate VBS nearby.

You could pick up a few things for your godchild while you're at VBS. Our VBS children each got a CD of the music. If my nephew hadn't been scheduled to participate in the same program later in the summer, I'd have sent him a CD. Instead, I picked up some stickers for him. He LOVES stickers, and I'm hoping that getting an envelope of stickers will help him look forward to VBS later this summer.

It's possible that you think VBS is hokey or dreadful. If your church offers a truly dreadful VBS (or worse, theologically problematic), then you have some thinking to do and perhaps, some decisions to make. But it's also possible that you're judging it as an adult and therefore judging it too harshly. Our children had a great time doing activities that would have bored me to tears. Even as we worked on one of our craft projects that was too hard (a wind chime that involved fishing wire), the children seemed fascinated and forgiving.

I think that one of the most important aspects of VBS is that it gives children a memory of church as a fun place, a place they can't wait to be. I remember being bored, bored, bored by church services when I was a child, the very services that give me comfort and strength now. It was those memories of the extracurricular activities, like VBS and youth group, that eventually led me to yearn for a church community as a grown up.

As godparents, we say that we'll nurture our godchildren and help with their spiritual formation. VBS can be an important help to us.

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