The Vacation Bible School Blues

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I am tired. This year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) at our church is officially over.

The week of VBS is a tough week for me as a pastor. After three hours of hanging out with energetic, exuberant children all morning, I need a nap in the afternoon. Then, with what’s left of the day, I have to squeeze in my normal visits and sermon preparation.

VBS week is stressful. It used to be so simple, but now we’ve got videos and music, scenery and skits to prepare. Trying to find helpers and volunteers is a headache because everybody is so busy. Schedules in the summer quickly get filled with vacations and camps, conferences and work.

Kids, on the other hand, aren’t so hard to find. Sometimes it seems like parents are just looking for free babysitting. The first couple of days, the kids behave pretty well. By Friday, however, they are restless and wild. Sadly, the teenage and pre-teen helpers sometimes are worse than the kids. By the end of the week, the adult helpers and teachers are tired and frazzled.

Just about every year, someone ends up tears. Sometimes that person is me. There are days when I wonder if VBS is even worth it…

But then we sing a song like we sang this week. The words were simple. Over and over again we sang, “Jesus loves me.” One of our volunteers suggested that I walk around during the song and tell the children by name that Jesus loved them. So while they sang the refrain, I wandered through the sanctuary, telling the children one by one, “Jesus loves Thornton” and “Jesus loves Jaxon” and “Jesus loves Isabella.”

I ended up being the one in tears this year.

Then I noticed the five year old boy who lost all his brothers and sisters in a fire a couple of years ago. I saw him smiling as he learned about Jesus and heaven.

Then I saw some of our teenage young men quietly sitting down with the smallest children, helping and encouraging them. I saw the joy on the children’s faces this week as they worshiped their Savior and heard the good news of his love. I heard one of them say, “I went home yesterday and told my dad Jesus loves him.”

Then I remembered that, for some of these children, VBS is the only connection they have to God and his Word throughout the year. I remembered that VBS creates a positive image of church which will stay with these children the rest of their lives.

This week, the seed of the gospel was planted and watered in the hearts of over sixty children at our tiny, little church in our tiny, little town. What effect will it have on their lives? Will there be children in heaven because of the Word they heard this week? Only God knows.

As I write these words, I am tired, worn out and a little frazzled. After a long, hard week, I have just one thing to say: Thank God for Vacation Bible School.

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  6 comments for “The Vacation Bible School Blues

  1. Kenneth
    July 25, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Amen and the cookies not bad, love You Lord Jesus for forgiving my soul. Thank You teachers and helpers. I still remember in Art session, cracking marbles in hot water. Then making a cluster of grapes. Lesson learned over 50 years ago. Jesus can take a cracked soul and make something even better and beautiful.

  2. July 25, 2016 at 8:31 am

    I truly do understand how you are feeling though it’s been a few years since I had a front line role in VBS myself. My work is behind the scenes by hosting a few teenagers who fly in from CO to do the teaching. The Director is not the pastor and he runs ragged, in every direction, trying to keep the balls in the air plus entertain the CO kids during the day with sight seeing, etc. Like you we have weather considerations—too hot or too much rain.

    In your opinion, has VBS gotten too commercial? Can it be dialed back, less expensive and involved? I equate VBS to what’s become of kids’ birthday parties—-while I enjoyed have friends over to ice skate and have hot chocolate for my birthday, now parents have to hire clowns and rock climbing walls in order to be a successful party-giver. In the end you want the little souls to go away knowing better their Savior and what He has done for them so perhaps the bells and whistles are not as important.

    • schroera
      July 25, 2016 at 8:56 am

      Kim, I share your concern about VBS. I love the fun and “bells and whistles,” but if we aren’t careful, the message can get lost.

  3. Marilyn Crowder
    July 25, 2016 at 9:34 am

    And to think, once upon a time, you were that exuberant little guy in a VBS with all the energy and maybe a little mischief. I admire and praise the Lord for the path he put before you and talents He has given you. Knowing your family, you, and now your book, has brought a few ‘Days of Thanksgiving’ to me. Praise the Lord!

  4. Cathy
    July 25, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I remember that week! The most exciting, fun, exhilarating, exhausting week of my life. What a blessing to know that you have given children the Gospel message who may never have heard it. I had one little boy that asked his mom to baptize him after our lesson that day! God bless your church and the message you spread. May he bring those little souls to faith! Some day in heaven, we will meet the children who were in our VBS!

  5. Laura Uzzardo
    July 25, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    I’ve been staff at our church for fifteen years now. VBS is my favorite exhausting God filled week of the church year. I see so many step out of their comfort zone. The teen volunteers are my one of my favorite parts. Seeing them interact and take leadership. We all learn and grow during this exhausting week. God sightings everywhere!

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