Friday, July 10, 2015

VBS and Adult Memories

Two weeks ago, we'd have been headed towards our last night of VBS.  In many ways, I'm still exhausted from that week of working long hours at work and then going to work at VBS until after 9.

People ask why I do it, and I trot out the usual reasons:  it's important, it's fun, my church needs all of us to help.  But as I've talked to people through the years, I've been amazed to realize this aspect:  a lot of the grown ups that I know have a VBS connection of some kind, and no one ever has a bad memory of VBS.

That's not true of any other aspect of church that I know.  If I had a dollar for every bad memory that people have told me about worship, I could retire at least one year early.  I've heard youth group horror stories, and even the occasional bad memory of camp.  But not one person has ever told me of a bad memory of VBS--on the contrary, most people have phenomenal memories.

Is it because so many of us are so small when we encounter VBS?  Perhaps.  But I wonder if something else is at work.

It's not the specific approach to VBS; people have such varied memories of how their churches did VBS that it can't be that.  Perhaps it's the glow of memories that are associated with special events in the summer--I wonder if the same would be true of Christmas memories.  Just as I've never heard a bad VBS memory, I rarely hear about horrible Christmas Eve worship.

Maybe it's that all the adults work hard to make sure that VBS is a good experience.  I'm sure that our church is not the only one who has a lot of non-church children come to VBS.  Because it's only one week, we can work very hard to make it a peak experience.

I'm also intrigued by how many people have worked on VBS as adults, and they're not all the people at work whom I already think of as church folks.  One woman told me that when her kids were young, she helped out with VBS.  It was often a community effort.  She described months of making sets and props and costumes and that each church in the community would use them through the summer.  She said she always felt bad for the churches who had VBS late in the summer, as the community resources had gotten a bit tattered by the end.

What a cool idea!  Not for the first time have I thought that we could do more to use VBS--or other events--to help link churches throughout the community. 

I used to think that it made sense for one Lutheran church to do the Confirmation classes, one to do the VBS, and so on.  Most churches don't seem that interested in that idea.  But they might be interested in sharing in some other way.

Maybe as we network with area Lutheran churches to support our camp, Luther Springs, other ways to collaborate will be made clear to us.   

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