Tag Archive | VBS

Vacation Bible School

I am not in any way fond of Vacation Bible School in the way it is done today. I know way to many who were “saved” in VBS and maybe even baptized afterwards. Yet today there is absolutely no evidence of Salvation or Jesus as Lord or even an important part of their life.

We have not participated in VBS in probably 10 years. But I do understand the pressure and stress not participating can cause if you are in a church that the annual missions focus is the yearly VBS. It is hard to buck the system and you will be accused of much if you say anything against VBS.

For those in a church which uses VBS the following is a helpful guideline to keep VBS from being a hindrance to true faith.

Vacation Bible School: Do’s and Don’ts

by Steve Burchett

Months of planning precede it. A line item in the church’s budget often funds it. Most churches hosting it see these few days every year as a prime opportunity to evangelize children. For some, it’s the most tiring event of the year. Of course, I’m talking about Vacation Bible School (VBS).

The hope in all of the hours of preparation and execution is for children to hear the gospel and come to faith in Christ. No one can make even one child a believer since it is God alone who makes Christians, but there are a few VBS “do’s” and “don’ts” that are vital for us to heed if we truly desire to drive children to, not away from, the Savior.

Five “Do’s”

Do use curriculum that is biblical and precise with the gospel. Ask yourself, “Is this curriculum simply about morals like ‘Be nice to your sister,’ or does it deal with the Bible and what it says about the character of God (even His wrath), the sinfulness of man, and the cross of Christ?” For a solid example of this, visit www.childrendesiringgod.org.

Do make sure that every teacher is precise with the gospel. You may have excellent curriculum, but if a teacher doesn’t handle the Bible accurately, the truth will be distorted. We don’t want our children to hear a false gospel, do we? Remember Paul’s sobering and stern words in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”

Do sing appropriate songs. VBS is not primarily a gathering of believers. Therefore, it is inappropriate for the children to sing lyrics like, “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord.” Instead, sing songs that speak about God’s character and the saving work of Christ. For examples of songs like this, visit www.sovereigngracemusic.org.

Do send gospel literature home with the children. A large number of the children at VBS have unbelieving parents. Sending home a sheet summarizing the day’s lesson with a few Scriptures for the child and parent(s) to look up together is appropriate. On the final day, send them home with an evangelistic book (like Pursuing God or The Eaglet, available at www.CCWtoday.org) and a note encouraging parents to read it with them.

Do listen to and laugh with the children. There must be times of seriousness—We dare not treat the gospel trivially! However, children need to know that we care about them and that serious Christians also have a sense of humor.

Five “Don’ts”

Don’t confuse the children concerning what is the necessary response to the gospel. The proper response to the gospel is not raising a hand, walking an aisle, or even praying a correctly worded prayer. The necessary response is repentance and faith (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21).

Don’t constantly tell the children how great they are. Even if the children obey perfectly all week, apart from Christ they remain enemies of God, and they need to know this. The “self-esteem” teaching of our day, if embraced by VBS teachers, actually works against the children recognizing their need for a Savior. Commend them when appropriate, but don’t shield them from the truth about their sin nature.

Don’t expect to know for sure if even one child was saved. Certain denominational newsletters highlight the number of children who are supposedly saved at VBS in their respective churches, but how do they really know? They are probably basing their statistics on hands raised, aisles walked, or prayers prayed, but we can’t really know that a child has been saved until fruit appears. In John 10:26, Jesus said that a characteristic of His sheep is that they “follow” Him. Is it possible to know, by the end of VBS week, that a child has definitely become a follower of Christ? Keep preaching the gospel to the children beyond VBS, look for ongoing repentance and faith, and forget about denominational fame.

Don’t seek to assure a child that he or she is a Christian. We can give children the biblical basis upon which they can have assurance, but the Holy Spirit alone grants assurance. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).

Don’t think VBS is essential in the church’s life. There are many good churches who have never held a VBS, yet they are abundantly evangelistic! How is this possible? They take the command seriously to “Go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19), but they spread the gospel through other means. Evangelism is essential, VBS is not. However, God might lead your church to host a VBS. If so, be careful to drive children to the Savior.

Copyright © 2007 Steve Burchett. Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including copyright and web link. All other uses require written permission.


Share

Berean Wife’s Testimony

Growing up in the church, you would think I would be quite knowledgeable about the Scriptures and the Lord. However only since having children, have I seriously learned about the Bible. You see although I grew up going to church, I was clueless about the Bible.

I never remember not believing in the Bible or Jesus.  That was always a part of my life.  I was either taken to church or went to church on my own as long as I remember.  Often in elementary school I walked several blocks to the church we attended by myself.  Times were different then and it wasn’t unusual for a first or second grader to walk late in the evening.  I also did the VBS rounds.  I visited my grandparents, both sets, and went to their VBS and even to other local VBS’s near them, sometimes up to three per little town but always Baptist.  VBS was much different then, we had a little worship service with hymns and children’s song and a Bible lesson.  Then there would be crafts, playing and snacks, but never the big production churches have now.

We moved around a good bit and I don’t really remember much specific about each church we attended.  When I was in around the seventh grade I remember the assistant pastor of the large church we attended coming to the house and sharing the gospel with my younger sister and me. He and another gentleman shared the typical gospel outline, such as the FAITH evangelism today. I remember nothing of  what they said. I knew it all.  Knew all the answers.  I had been in church for years yet the info they shared was just your basic gospel tract info.

Nevertheless, I do very clearly remember sitting there with them, my mother and sister. When the time came in the presentation to ask if I wanted to say the prayer there were a lot of thoughts running through my head.

What would they do if I said no?

What would my mother do?

Would I be in big trouble?

Do you think a person who is thinking like this is under the immediate conviction of the gospel at that time? I don’t. Although I prayed the prayer as instructed, rebellion was in my heart. Not that I was rebellious in the sense of rejecting the gospel but in the pressure applied to me to accept. I had no objection to anything that was said and believed it all.  I just disliked the feeling of being pressured in front of so many adults.  I was congratulated on being saved and shortly thereafter followed through with baptism.  (This is one reason you will never find me pressuring a child to profess faith in Christ.)  Essentially this was just pressure to have me say a prayer and add my name to the role.  Funny thing is that I don’t remember either men ever really talking to me about salvation, discipleship, or anything of that nature again.  Pretty much I was left to the Sunday School classes just like before.

As a child of divorce, I found my “family” to be my church family more so than at home. I was involved in every activity, choir, acteens, missions and teaching camp. By the time, I was in high school I was the only member of my family attending church. I was the “good girl” of the family.  No one else attended church very much.  Attending church is what good Christians do, right?

What I mean by a “good girl” is that I rarely was in trouble. Straight A’s, church attending, not “wild” and by all appearances a good Christian. Spurts of studying the Bible, trying to live like a good Christian, and serving in the church encompassed my free time. Yet I knew my heart was black as night, even though I would try to keep painting it white regularly. As long as I was not obviously sinning I was fine, right? All I had been taught was that you make a profession, get baptized and then live life right by following the commands in the Bible.

Sometime near college graduation, I seriously was broken and in despair this Christian thing didn’t seem to be working right.  My white paint was running out and I kept finding black spots.  I cannot tell you how many times I had asked Jesus into my heart, before the official profession and baptism and even afterwards. See if I sinned I needed to make sure I was saved by asking again. The only problem is that I was still convinced I needed Jesus plus my “good works.” You cannot will yourself to do well. The harder I tried to do well and not to sin, the less successful I was. My faith was in Jesus, plus my deeds. I thought I could make Jesus love me by doing what is right. Every time I failed, I would tell myself “You just don’t believe enough, if only you would believe more, you would do better.”  I felt as if Jesus loved me when I was “good” but hated me when I sinned.  Sorta like the flower petals “He loves me, He loves me not.”

When I had my first child, I learned more about love. It was actually possible to love and be loved without doing anything lovable. I loved my baby even when all I got was demands for food and diaper changes. I walked all night at times to sooth a crying baby, at times so tired I could hardly stand. I would die for this child that never gave any love back; only demanded more. That is where I learned the truth of:

Romans 5:8  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ESV

Then begin my quest to be the best mother I could be and to raise my child up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Focus on the Family’s James Dobson was a regular in my house by radio and book. Now I do understand some serious problems with that ministry’s theology and specifically the focus on self-esteem. However, the Bible teaching and encouragement for my marriage and family was more than I had ever gotten in all my years of attending church. Southern Baptist churches just were not seriously teaching the Bible back then.

As I have added years and children, I have also grown in my understanding of the Bible and in faith. During this time, my husband started teaching Sunday School and reading author’s such as Spurgeon. He soon found that the Southern Baptist literature was as he says “insipid.” He began writing his own Sunday School lessons and stocking the home with Bible study resources. After we got a computer, he soon got a Bible software program so we could quickly look up information and have easy access to multitudes of books. Those resources and listening to sermons on the radio, now the internet, have often been our best sources of Biblical instruction despite solid consistent church attendance.

I can’t tell you what day I knew I was saved, as if a magical switch was flipped.  I seemed to have always believed, albeit often wrongly.  At what point does our faith match up just right with the truth?  I don’t know.  I do know that my faith does not match up perfectly yet with the truth.  It will only match perfectly with the truth when I am in Heaven.

I am now a wife, mom of five, home school mom, and homemaker who still strives to do what is right.

 

Not because I have to – because I want to.

I’m undeserving of love – but am loved anyway.

I deserve Hell – but have been given a hope in Heaven.

Saved not by works – but Grace.

 

 

 

 


Share