Monday, June 15, 2009

Vacation Bible School Wrap Up

Yesterday, we turned over the church service (except for Communion) to the children who had just spent a week at Vacation Bible School. I'll confess that in the past, I've been of two minds about this.

On the one hand, I understand that letting the youth be in charge of the occasional church service can foster a life-long love of church and liturgy. I have fond memories of Youth Sundays of my own childhood. What a thrill to be in charge and to try new things!

As an adult, however, I often find these services painful. Not all of the children are able to read well. There's always one or two (or ten) who aren't well-behaved, and they aren't well-behaved in any number of ways that can be distracting. Children often don't sing so much as shout.

Yesterday, I went to church, since I'd spent the whole week helping. And perhaps my experience helping left me biased. But it wasn't too bad. I liked the liturgy that came with the program (I'm very impressed with the Augsburg/Fortress series; this year, we explored Discovery Canyon), and the music was catchy without being schmaltzy. The children read well (amazingly well, some of them), and they all behaved.

I like that Vacation Bible School pulls in so many children for whom this will be their only experience of church. It's interesting to me that parents are willing to let their children participate in VBS, but seem leery of church on a weekly basis. Is it that church on a weekly basis is so much more of a commitment? Is it something offputting about the church service itself? Is it simply that they're invited to VBS, but not invited to other parts of church life?

I'm glad that I got a chance to participate in VBS as an adult; it's been interesting to experience it from this side of the age divide.


Beth Lewis said...

I'm so glad to learn of your congregation's success with Discovery Canyon VBS, Kristin! Thanks! We love these "real life" stories of the ministry resources we create being used in congregations for faith formation & worship.

I also love your thoughtful questions about why families happily send their children to VBS, but we don't see as many of them as we'd like in weekly worship. I think that the reasons vary, but I suspect that one answer might be "all of the above!"

We hope that with dynamic ministry tools, like Discovery Canyon VBS and our new Spark Sunday School we will see some shift in these patterns.

Please don't hesitate to let us know what types of resources are helpful for the children, youth and adults in your congregation!


Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO
Augsburg Fortress

Erik said...

Great reflections, Kristin. I, too, find myself frustrated by a lack of congruency in the attitudes of young parents when it comes to church participation / involvement. Glad to hear that you had a positive experience with your VBS. I'll be excited to hear if you find a way to connect these families into your "regular" programming throughout the year!

Kristin said...

Thanks for coming by, Beth and Erik!

Erik, I, too, will be interested to see if VBS carries over into the school year. Stay tuned . . .