Those initials evoke memories of red kool-aid, the cookies with a hole in the middle that you could stack on your finger, pledges, songs, crazy games and fun.
I adore Vacation Bible School. Regardless of denomination, it’s a big week in the life of kids and the church. Many, many children grow in their faith during this week and many become followers of Christ.
I’ve worked or taught in VBS for more years than I can remember. I started in the seventh grade, and except for the four years that I worked at an office, I participated in some way. I’ve helped with snacks, assisted in crafts, led the worship rally time, counted the attendance sheets, worked with preschoolers, and for the last five years, fifth and sixth grade. I love these kids. They’re fun, and the games for older kids are games that I enjoy too, so it doesn’t feel like work at all.
Side note: I know this is a marriage blog. But my husband is crazy busy at work, and I am crazy busy with VBS. We’re still happy. Things are great. But I have nothing new to say about married life at this moment. Oh wait, yes I do. He bought me a minivan yesterday. It’s my dream vehicle and the nicest thing I’ve ever owned. I adore it, and I adore him for getting it for us. The old one was about to fall apart. That’s the update on married life.
So this is what’s on my mind right now. Children and teenagers have an awesome opportunity to grow spiritually over the summer. Camp staffers, ministers, volunteers…lots of people spend lots of time investing in kids and praying that they will discover how much God loves them and enter into a relationship with Him. Summer is a wonderful opportunity for a young person to start to become who God has created them to be.
The flip side of that is, so many parents want the church or the camps to be the source of spiritual training for their child and hope they’ll “catch it” while they’re there. The kids come home and the attitudes or behaviors of the parents de-validate everything they just spent a week learning. The kids are surrounded by people that love the Lord and want them to know Him, and they come home to parents that are absent, critical, abusive, hurtful and mean. Or they come home to people who have good intentions, but take no responsibility for the spiritual training of their children, and everything they learned falls by the wayside because the parents are not taking the time for spiritual growth themselves and the kids receive the message that it is not important at all.
It’s a responsibility issue. The church is there and wants to be a part of the spiritual growth of young people. But the church is not the biggest influence in their life. Parents are, whether they think they are or not. The church supports and facilitates, but kids are going to learn truth by what is modeled in the home. We as parents cannot expect the church to shoulder the responsibility for our children growing up to be godly people. If we are not following Jesus and shaping our lives to look like Him (meaning who God’s Word says He is, not who we want Him to be) then our kids will have a much harder time following Him, even if they want to.
Now, I believe with all of my heart that God can and will protect those that want to follow Him and they can grow and have an intimate walk with Christ on their own. I’ve seen that happen with people I love many times. God draws people to Himself all the time, despite our circumstances. But if a child has parents at home that care enough to send them to camp or church, it’s the parents’ responsibility to live in such a way that what they learn at church or camp cannot be denied. Mixed messages can confuse a young person and cause them to doubt and draw them further away from God. Consistency is the key.
Living a life of faith requires effort and sacrifice. It also is full of blessing and ultimate reward. Your children will benefit greatly by you caring about your own spiritual life. It’s worth it. Jesus is always worth it.