Four of my younger siblings just finished up VBS (vacation Bible school) with my grandmother’s church. I like the church (I actually like the church better than all of the “normal” churches I’ve been in the last few years), I like the people there, and I like the people who drove from North Carolina to put on this VBS. But...
All I’ve heard for the last three days about VBS goes something along these lines: “well, the other team brought more tithe in so they won again,” and “I brought a guest so I got 10,000 personal points” and “my cousin and I threw a water balloon the farthest without breaking it so we got five dollars” and “because we lost there weren’t many prizes so I got this one because it was the only one I was kind of interested in” and “Granny, I need a Bible so I can get more points!” and “if my cousin had just brought her five dollar bill, they would have won!”
And on and on. That’s all I’ve heard about VBS. Prizes and games and contests: winners and losers. The closest it’s come to anything Biblical was my five-year-old sister smoothing out a crumpled cross with stickers and her name on it.
“Why’s it a cross?” she asks her eight-year-old sister.
“Because Jesus died on a cross.”
“Oh. Well really, it has my name on it so people know it’s mine.” Pause. “Adelle died on the cross!” She laughs.
Now, my sister can be a bit of an airhead and might’ve missed the explanation. But I can’t help wondering. What is the point of VBS? Anything Biblical they were given was swallowed up in prizes. Prizes, games, winners, losers. It’s the same with Sunday school, whenever we venture into the Church-in-a-box. Except even worse: then they bribe my siblings into asking my parents to come back. More points, more prizes.
Not just to pick on children’s church. Even in this little Baptist church that I like, they segment things by ages: teens aren’t mature enough to be with the adults, apparently (do we have a different Jesus?). Then there’s the small megachurch near my home with the deafening music, flashing lights, huge buildings, and unwavering scheduling.
I’m not against making a joyful noise unto the Lord...but I honestly can’t make anything joyful amidst all the flashy noise. I can’t feel right volunteering to knock on doors for VBS (even if it is “contending for the faith” as I’m told in Teen’s Sunday School [I don’t suppose writing Christian novels or asking God where he wants you is worth as much as knocking on doors to bolster attendance]) when all VBS has filled the kids’ heads with is greed. You tithe to beat the other team and get a first go at the prize table. Not because you pray and ask God where He wants His money--heaven forbid we don’t support our pastor and air conditioning!
What in the world do we think we’re doing? Impressing others? Impressing the children? Impressing God?
Does it ever occur to us that maybe we should shut up and listen--and teach children to do the same?
Image from free image site (GospelGifs).