Like many of the churches represented by the recipients of Encouragement From The Word, we host a Vacation Bible School every year. Ours is called “Bible Fun Camp”, and it’s wrapping up today. By the time you have read this, there is every possibility that I will have been well and duly soaked with water. (This is a positive step. Last year, some of the kids got to throw cream pies at me. While the press it garnered us was really great, I was digging Nutri-Whip out of my ears for several days afterward!)
We are intentional about calling our VBS “Bible Fun Camp”, for a couple of reasons. First, the word ‘school’ doesn’t always thrill kids, especially in the middle of the summer; and second, we really want the experience to be ‘fun’!
Let’s face it: many people have a picture of the church that isn’t exactly characterized by fun. And they have that picture for a very good reason: we have painted it for them. When we assume that even children who have no church experience “know” how to behave in a church building, and we scold them for not meeting up to our tacit expectations, we teach kids that church is not ‘fun’. There are plenty of other examples I could give, but you get the idea: we can’t assume that these children whom God has given us for the week know anything about God, or about the culture of the church. Too often, when I think of church ‘rules’ with kids, I think of the dialogue between Tigger and Rabbit in a Winnie-the-Pooh sketch. Tigger’s just messing around, being Tigger, and Rabbit tells him he can’t act that way. Rabbit exclaims, “Tigger! Where are your manners?” to which Tigger replies, “I don’t know, but I’ll bet they’re having more fun than I am.”
If we can’t make the gospel fun for kids, the likelihood that they will connect with God is not strong. If we can’t make learning Bible verses fun for kids, they are unlikely to retain what they learn. Bible Fun Camp (or whatever you call your VBS) can be a tremendous opportunity to reach kids whom you may not otherwise reach. God gives them to you as a gift to be stewarded carefully. While you might not get every child to make a public profession of faith in Christ that week, there is a strong possibility that, by God’s grace, some of the truth you have taught them will stick with them all their lives.
Psalm 119.11 says in praise to God, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (NIV). My prayer for the kids who will soak me with water today, and for the kids you will reach with your VBS, is that God will hide his Word in their hearts. It will come in handy sooner than they think.