VBS Week

The days are growing longer and hotter and school is out for the summer. Time for churches everywhere to get kids out of mom and dad’s hair for a week with the yearly Vacation Bible School! But, of course, fundamentalists have their own way of doing VBS and the memories that are made there last a lifetime.

For Day 1, here’s a flyer received by an alert SFL reader from a church run by one of the bastions of fundy craziness: Peter Ruckman. Doesn’t it just scream “kid friendly”?

(In the interest of full disclosure my own child just finished VBS at a local Southern Baptist church where she also goes to Pre-K. When asked what she learned she informed us that free hot dogs are good.)

101 thoughts on “VBS Week”

    1. LOL!

      I can’t help but think that, well, in IFB-land, concerning the phrase “scared straight,” as the famous philosopher Robert Plant once said, “you know, sometimes words have two meanings.”

    2. I love Ruckman’s preaching!! While I agree this may be a little strong for a 5 yr old.. children need to hear sound doctrinal preaching straight from the KJ Bible….no sugar coating! Including the “scary” subjects so many people find “offensive”. We need more preachers like Dr. Ruckman! Why don’t you thank God for Ruckman instead of acting like thin skinned little babies who can’t stand sound preaching…for themselves OR their children?!

      1. UGH. Made it to 1:31. I think a former elementary school Bible teacher of mine may have tried to do something similar to this with a black marker instead of chalk. I’m getting some vague, uncomfortable flashbacks…

      2. Don, thanks for this. My father loved Ruckman growing up, and I can remember having to get dressed up in the Sunday best to watch Mr. Ruckman do a chalk talk on Thursday evening. Back in my fundie days, I thought he was the bees’ knees. Now he just sounds hateful. My dad just sent me a few of his commentaries for a Bible study on the book of John that I just got assigned, but it is hard to slog through all of his attacks against everyone to find anything useful about the Bible – and he corrects the Greek with the English of the KJB! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

      3. Once again, I am grateful that I come from a different part of the world from most of you, and for the first minute or so of the clip I honestly cannot understand a word he says. In all seriousness, it sounded exactly like someone speaking in tongues to me.

        Those of you who are from the States but not the South, do you find him easy to understand? (genuine question) Also do many people speak like this, or is this diction a quirk of fundy preachers?

        1. Actually no. I’m from Michigan but I’m very used to the southern accent, being as my dad is from Mississippi and I grew up with him and my grandparents speaking this way, but I couldn’t make out a word of this. It was as if he was partly singing, partly talking, for some kind of dramatic effect. Just as well, I’m quite sure what he had to say was nothing I wanted to hear or understand. ๐Ÿ˜•

        2. Because I grew up with Ruckman’s sermons on video, I had no trouble understanding him. I remember when my dad got the first video, I had to really listen carefully to know what he was saying, but now it’s no trouble.

  1. Notice that the good ol US of A will be the last part of the spooky red world to burn . . . oh wait, is it red because the sea already turned to blood?

  2. Our church just finished Vacation Bible School. We’re thinking about letting our daughter go to the VBS at another church next week. About half her classmates from kindergarten make the rounds of VBS programs all over town during the summer, just for something to do.
    Our daughter scored a phenomenal amount of candy and several prizes last week. I think she got a better take in candy at VBS than last Easter, Valentine’s, and Christmas combined, plus tickets for free ice cream, free french fries, and $5 off pizza! I don’t remember VBS being nearly so rewarding when I was that age!

    1. I have to go a LOONG way back to remember VBS… I don’t remember bringing home any candy back then, but I do remember cookies and kool-aid at various frequent breaks.

      On a good note, I did come to Christ as a result of a local church’s VBS.

  3. I’ve never heard of a VBS theme like that. If I were a parent I think that the world on fire graphic would be enough to make me not want to send my kid, but then again maybe their are plenty of parents who just want their kids out of the house.

    1. That grim red flyer looks unappealing enough, but then the topic: the end of the world, for five year olds?

      My kids are going to a local non-denominational church tomorrow for VBS. They’re using Groups’ program: “At Sky VBS, kids discover that by trusting God, everything is possible.” Or I could go with the nightmares of the earth burning.

      1. Our church did that one as well this year. Our family got to help out, and it was really good. I especially liked the music for it (the songs weren’t the kind that got annoying after hearing them for the 5th time time ๐Ÿ˜› ).

    2. That’s exactly how it is. Just like they send them to church on the bus on Sunday morning to get them out of their hair for a few hours, they send them to VBS and never question what they’re being taught. The kids don’t go for lesson time, they go for the prizes and treats. They make the rounds of all the VBS’s in town. In Fundy churches they get saved over and over so they get some special attention. It’s a lot of work for the bus workers and teachers, etc. As a kid I loved VBS, as an adult worker I hated it and couldn’t wait for it to be over. And it was always hot all week. I’m so glad to be out of that! :mrgreen:

      1. Yup; I recall irate parents calling a church and bawling them out for having their VBS at the same time as another church’s VBS — the parents couldn’t ditch the kids for two weeks!

        I was young at the time, but still thought that was incredibly selfish of the parents – they weren’t members of the church they bawled out.

      2. I think a good many parents use VBS as free child care during the summer. I remember reading a newspaper article one time about parents calling VBS programs for that very reason.

    3. Yup. You can send your kids to VBS at mainline churches where the lessons are things like “God loves you” and “God wants us to love our neighbors,” but why do that when you could give them a week of terror about the f-in’ end of the world? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  4. I think if Ruckman is leading it, that’s scary enough. Wouldn’t need aliens or blood or anything.

    Perhaps some parents need a powerful threat to control their kids? “Eat your broccoli OR YOU’RE GOING TO SEE RUCKMAN!”

  5. That’s just a crazy theme for VBS. We always did “Army vs Navy” and it worked out very well each year. We occasionally had some Marines or Air Force show up though and had to give them their own little seating section to themselves. ๐Ÿ™„

    We usually had so much fun with that!

  6. I wonder what crafts they are making?? End of the world little models???
    The candy must be fireballs, to stay with the theme.
    The decorations???? How uplifting.
    But make sure to tell the parents not to let them watch Barney, after all he’s gay purple.

    1. Based on my extensive VBS experience, I expect that they will take Styrofoam balls, color land and water onto them (green and blue, respectively), glue on some crepe-paper orange and red flames, and then add some glitter, because … hey, everybody loves glitter.
      ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Ruckman is what, 90 now?
      So he’s in good shape if he can still do a chalk talk.
      … But I wonder what he thinks about the world not having, you know, ended yet? He’s been predicting The End for a really long time now.

  7. As my church’s VBS director, there is no way in hell I would do a theme of “The End of the World.” But I wouldn’t have a choice of themes either. We’re doing Lifeway’s “Amazing Wonders Aviation. We have a 2-seater airplane and a hangar backdrop for the sanctuary.

    1. Hey!! That’s the one we are doing too! My daughter is finally old enough to be a helper and has been going around singing all the songs all week long, practicing for when she gets to help lead them. No “Chalk Talks” for our kids!

  8. VBS was just a numbers game in the IFB church, just something they could brag on. “We had 554 kids come through the week (never mind that they weren’t that many DIFFERENT kids) and 101 kids made professions of faith!” Yeah right. It’s always about numbers in Fundyville. ๐Ÿ™„

    1. Oh, yeah, Fundy math. Add up the total number of attendees for each day (including volunteers & teachers) and then add THOSE totals to get the number of “souls reached” for the week. ๐Ÿ˜†

  9. Wow. That’s bad taste in subject matter. I guess they think if they use terrifying content then they won’t have to spend any time worrying about behaviour management.

    When I first saw the flier, I really, really thought that someone had found an old flier they’d somehow stored from years ago.

    1. THAT might be worth my kids’ time…

      Slightly OT, but my mom (as a kid) was always terrified by the terminology used to explain the salvation experience. “Let Jesus into your heart…” “Give your heart to Jesus…” “Let Jesus wash the sin from your heart…” She said she always pictured some sort of surgical procedure and would start to cry in fear that she would be forced to have her chest cut open. The well-meaning teachers would, of course, interpret her tears as conviction and apply more pressure for her to “give her heart.” ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

        1. Probably not. One doesn’t (in fundy circles, at least) speak of bowels in polite company. ๐Ÿ˜€

        2. Nor doth one speak of pissething against the wall, though that’s in the KJV too. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

        3. One wonders if there will be wall pissing at Anderson’s VBS.

          I also wonder if his wife gets tired of cleaning up the mess in their bathroom.

        4. “One wonders if there will be wall pissing at Andersonโ€™s VBS.”

          Are you kidding? That’s the THEME of Anderson’s VBS.

  10. Is it just me, or does the second flyer look like something someone developed 15 years ago, and they just fill in the blanks for the dates and theme?

    SFL: doing VBS the same way we always have because it’s too much work to develop something new every year and too expensive to buy a program from those compromisers at Regular Baptist Press.

    1. I agree with you – it’s clearly too much work to come up with a new idea year after year. As someone who has made too many of those programs from scratch, I can understand the desire to save time, but at least pick something age appropriate and put it on a rotating basis. At my church, we had a five year rotation so that nothing within the students’ memory would be repeated. And we didn’t scare them with end-of-the-world burning ideas. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  11. Peter Ruckman is awhole different kinda crazy than any other fundy that has ever been featured on SFL, he’s in a complete different atmosphere than run of the mill fundy’s like Hyles, Schapp etc.

    No children should ever be allowed around this man!

  12. I wonder if they’d be open to a Hunger Games theme. Tributes would be chosen from each “district” (class) on the first day. They would compete against each other all week to be the last righteous person standing. The tributes could bring each other down with carefully-placed stumbling blocks (Harry Potter books, rock and roll CDs, etc.). They would be monitored at all times for the entertainm- I mean exhortation of the rest of the districts’ denizens, which would be nothing new to these kids. The teachers would wear absurd clothing and hairstyles and follow the tributes around squelching any rebellion with the mantra of “Manners! Manners!” and reminding the tributes how lucky they were to be chosen. And for the closing program, all the fallen tributes, who have now been sent to hell and mutated into demons, will attack the last two while the crowd watches to see which will give the other over to Satan to save him or herself. The winner of the Hunger Games will be presented with a leather-bound, monogrammed KJV Bible, as will each member of the winner’s family. Because, you know, man cannot live by bread alone.

  13. Our VBS is four weeks away. The teacher guides have just been handed out, but nothing else has been done. I mean, isn’t it normal to wait until the week before to slap some crap together? ๐Ÿ‘ฟ I won’t be participating in that crazy.

  14. If any local Baptist churches do this, they do it as a bait and switch. I considered sending my 8-year-old to the Baptist mission’s summer-long summer camp extravaganza–activities every day but Sunday, just drop in!–but I just heard from a friend that their equestrian camp offers an hour of riding practice and takes half of that for reading Bible verses. No thanks.

  15. Our fundy church was so removed, (“how removed were they, you ask?”) they did not have VBS because other churches were doing it. Yea, it was that messed up. But on a sightly different note, they always had some kind of bible conference meetings on the absolute hottest week of the year. It was pretty impressive… 100 degree days in a church with no a/c and 75% humidity. We would sneak out and head to the lake or take extra work shifts so we would not have to go.

  16. On my recent short trip I got roped into helping at the Presbyterian church VBS. The skit I had to do was pablum, basically social gospel. The main “project” was raising money for mosquito nets being sent to Africa, I think. Which I do support. But there has to be a more biblically responsible medium between this Fundy nightmare and liberal social do-goodism. Hopefully.

    1. Missions money going to provide for the physical needs of others is not “liberal social do-goodism”, nor is it “social gospel.” It is money going to missionaries already sharing the gospel with people in that area, but they are just not content to say “be warmed and filled” and leave them with their physical needs unmet when they have the ability to help meet them.

      1. Like I said, I do support giving to the poor and meeting people’s needs. “Which I do support” is what I said but that’s what I meant. My concern was more with the mish-mash presented by loosely biblically themed skits. I guess you had to be there perhaps you are personally familiar with the program I’m talking about? http://group.com/childrens-ministry/vbs/babylon It’s sounds solid from the website but up close it was wanting and the SKY theme looks really awful to me. I’m not a fan of mixing things up with popular culture themes either, like superheroes, because the bible is not the same. That might brand me Fundy but I don’t care.

        I think it’s important to encourage kids to pray for, help and personally get involved with other people but I also believe that church is the place where they should come to know the great truths of “the faith once delivered.” The people in other places are important but I’m concerned about what those kids are learning in church too! I realize VBS is usually more of an “invite your friends” kind of venue to start but that is no excuse for not making sure it has CLEAR biblical content. I like Concordia’s theme, for instance, and yes they still do have a “mission” to help others behind it. http://vbs.cph.org/2012/index.asp I realize no one gets it perfect and we all have our views on what is acceptable. I see from your other comments that we actually have similar ideas so hopefully this clarifies my point a little more.

        1. I personally don’t have a problem with overall VBS themes that are based on some element of popular culture, provided that there is actual Bible teaching at the VBS, and the theme itself isn’t at all contradictory to Scripture. From my experience, the theme was to give an overall guide for decorating, funny skits, crafts, etc. (at least at the churches I’ve gone to). I don’t think it’s really the theme or the publisher that makes the difference so much as the church. If a church is lax about Bible teaching, then its probably going to rely on the gimmicks and show during VBS. If a church is committed to sound doctrine and Bible teaching, then its VBS will most likely reflect it.

          And no, a concern for Biblical doctrine does not make you a fundy. ๐Ÿ˜›

        2. OK, we do have some difference of opinion but I heartily agree with this: “If a church is lax about Bible teaching, then its probably going to rely on the gimmicks and show during VBS. If a church is committed to sound doctrine and Bible teaching, then its VBS will most likely reflect it.”
          That is spot on!

          I was in a tiny mountain town with kids that come from rough backgrounds. More than anything they just want to show them “the love of Jesus”. And I talked with the Pastor’s wife and she knows and appreciates sound doctrine. Overall the Pastor handled it well and they already knew all the faces that show up in such a small place. But, again, the potential for that material to be confusing was high,IMO,; thankfully they emphasized well. I’m not a big fan of Evangelical” anything goes as long as kids have fun and learn about Jesus” having grown up with hip Christianity I’m on guard. I was a casualty of confusing, gimmicky, moralized pablum in kid’s and youth programs.

          I do think it’s wonderful you seem to have a heart to reach and teach children.

  17. Ironicly, the people who want to teach the children about plagues of war, death, starvation, terrible disease, blood, and the eventual slaughter of all remaining humans are the same ones that cry out about video game violence. No doubt they also teach the children David and Goliath (the slaughter of a man with a rock to the forhead followed by removal of the head and walking around with it like a trophy). I don’t have a problem with the proper teaching of those stories, but I do if there’s the hypocrisy of condemning video game violence.

  18. “In the interest of full disclosure my own child just finished VBS at a local Southern Baptist church where she also goes to Pre-K. When asked what she learned she informed us that free hot dogs are good.”

    LOL! I’m glad she came away with one good thing about fundy VBS.

    In the summers, when I was a kid (a long, loong, loonnngggg time ago) everybody went to everybody’s VBSs. The churches in my home town staggered them. The Lutheran church has its first, the Methodist a couple of weeks later and so on, Our baptist church was pretty fundy but A) they like getting new kids that week and fair’s fair and B) ANYTHING that got the kids out of the house for a couple of hours and wasn’t illegal was fine with our mothers (who were fundies but were also realists).

    1. Come now! He said Southern Baptist! Not all Southern Baptists are Fundy! There’s actually quite a spread. Some are fundy, some are more moderate, some are Calvinist, some are just plain weird… :mrgreen:
      (And, yes, I’m a Southern Baptist. My church has contemporary worship, people wear shorts, even the preacher doesn’t wear a suit, and we use the NIV and other contemporary translations.)

  19. Don’t forget the visual aid posters with pictures of Jesus in different scenes….except Jesus has had his hair altered and He may be blacked out altogether!! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ Because we don’t know exactly what Jesus looks like. However everyone else is left as is because we know what they looked like.

  20. There was a church I was involved in that refused to even look at VBS material-anything published was obviously doctrinally watered down to be more appealing to the masses.

    Why we expose children to lots of the bible stories is a mystery to me. People wallpaper their newborn’s bedrooms with the story of Noah-why? That’s an awful story. I don’t get it…

    1. When you read them with open eyes, most of the Old Testament is just plain horrifying, and most of the New Testament is deeply disturbing and/or bewildering.

      Still, I approve of teaching children Bible stories. The stories you learn in childhood will be yours for ever. But thought needs to be given about what’s age-appropriate.

    2. We ran out of fairy tales to kidie-ize–the OT was the next best thing. ๐Ÿ˜›

      And yes, some of those narratives are not something children are ready for at all. I don’t even teach all the stories in our 5th grade school Bible curriculum. The sin of Achan? Really? The rebellion of Korah? I struggle with those stories; I can’t in good conscience teach them to 5th graders….

      1. My favorite is when my 4 year old comes back from church asking about hell. Really? How can someone who can’t comprehend evil, depravity, and judgement ever grasp hell? Again, it needs to be taught. However, given the fact that I struggle with such a truth as an adult when I take my whole theological worldview into account (i.e. being born with a nature that I can’t help but sin), maybe we can teach this to people who have the capacity to work through it.

  21. Does that say through the 8th grade or 6th? Either way….VBS’s seem to market themselves for a very young age group and expect the older ones to actually participate and enjoy themselves. They usually end up just goofing off and experiencing the wrath of the Powers that be…or was that just me?

    Also….transportation to “the End of the World” just sounds funny. “No! We’re not looney!” ๐Ÿ™„

  22. Our church just finished VBS this year (so all us workers are recovering…) and the kids and the adults really enjoyed it. Of course, instead of trying to scar kids for life or terrify them into saying The Prayer (T), we presented the Gospel as “Jesus LOVES you so much that He died for you so that you could be saved”, instead of “Accept Jesus or you’ll BURN IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!!!!!!” ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

    I also like that our church emphasized that VBS was a great opportunity for not just the adult workers, but also the regular church kids to show God’s love to the kids who may not go to church at all. Can’t really expect kids to do that if you make them think that God is nothing but a violent force of nature, waiting to destroy you when you mess up.

    1. “Canโ€™t really expect kids to do that if you make them think that God is nothing but a violent force of nature, waiting to destroy you when you mess up.”

      I’m not really sure how we constantly come to that conclusion with the gospel message. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

  23. My daughter went to a fundy VBS one year. It was actually pretty cool. The theme was “Walk through Bible Lands.” They had different rooms set up as different places mentioned in the Bible, and even had a few animals outside for the kids to pet. My daughter’s favorite of the week was getting to pet and play with a rabbit. ๐Ÿ˜†

  24. Tonight is day 3 of our VBS, we start on Sunday evening. We are using Cokesbury’s “Operation Overboard – where kids dive deep into God’s love.” “The above Bible School is just creepy.

    So on a Fundy site that some of them have their panties in a wad because some VBS material, using Patch the Pirate music has him singing some CCM! What kind of music would you sing at the End of the World VBS? Maybe they end VBS by watching 2012!

  25. This cannot possibly be a current VBS flyer. I remember being dragged to “Chalk Talks” with Peter Ruckman when I was young… and he was old back then. What is he now? 90? Is he still alive?

    1. I grew up in Pensacola and remember driving past Ruckman’s smallish-looking house just across the street from PCC. Eventually PCC’s sprawling campus surrounded Ruckman’s house, and for many years he refused to sell to PCC, probably out of spite. He always had the yard sign with some threatening Bible verse on it.

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