Vacation Bible School

It’s summer time and churches all across the nation are gearing up for Vacation Bible School. Although many churches may hold VBS, only a chosen few are dedicated to using these hours and photocopied RBP materials to teach the attending children great doctrinal truths about such foes of our soul as the wiggle worm. For indeed he may be “smaller than a tiny germ” but he has got “a great big appetite.”

But VBS isn’t just about learning about doctrine, it’s also a time of great stories. There are stories about heathen in foreign lands such as Ti-Fam the Witch Doctor’s Daughter (a story of Haiti) or the somewhat less popular Joey the Dentist’s Kid (a story of New Jersey). There are also stories of great missionaries such as Mary Slessor and Amy Carmichael — women who have been granted special fundamentalist dispensation for  spiritually instructing men since the men in question were several shades darker than they.

Time would fail to tell of the other wonders of VBS. There will be the making of construction paper art projects, the consumption of the thrice-blessed snack time treats, and no less than 238 verses of Arky, Arky (wherein the Lord shall have instructed Noah to build said arky to escape the floody floody and get out of the muddy muddy).

The week will draw to a conclusion with an awards ceremony in which parents are forced to pay their dues for having had a whole week off from their children’s company by sitting in metal folding chairs and listening to a dozen young voices recite and sing. A sermon is preached, the numbers of children saved (no less than 108% of the total attendants) and surrendered to African missions are tallied up and recorded for next week’s bulletin, and everyone goes their merry way leaving the VBS workers the task of removing half a ton of decorations before Sunday.

For the record, I loved VBS. It was the best.

38 thoughts on “Vacation Bible School”

  1. I fear we would cringe at the fact that many of these missionaries whose stories are told to the children after the midday snack had many beliefs that would not be welcome in Fundyland nowadays. 🙂

  2. “Okay children, repeat this prayer after me…Dear Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner…”

    Pastor Fundy the following Sunday:
    “We had over 100 professions, 26 re-dedications, and 5 surrenders to the full-time ministry.”
    Meanwhile among the 22 attendees that Sunday morning, none of the VBS children are seen and will never be seen again. Ain’t VBS great?

    What ever happened to making disciples of Christ that took years instead of the quick, pray-with-me, easy-believism that only takes a few minutes? I guess the church got too busy.

  3. I actually *HATED* VBS as a kid…

    That said, this post is spot on. I think you just summed up every VBS I’ve been forced to be a part of!

  4. Don’t forget the wordless book presentations (and the companion products: the gospel glove and the gospel kite.) The VBS’s that I knew had a week-long contest where we earned points for memory work, learning the books of the Bible, and more importantly, convincing your neighbors to attend with you!

  5. I hated VBS, but I like what our Anglican church does now. We join forces with our neighboring pentecostal church and actually build a city inside the fellowship hall. You cannot imagine. We actually have MORE kids at the end of the week than at the beginning, and last year the 7th and 8th graders begged to be able to attend as well. This year is Joseph. You should see Potiphar’s wife. LOL No wiggle worms or lame craft projects in this VBS.

  6. @Susan: thank you for saying that. I always felt like I was the only one who hated VBS! To me it was everything that was WRONG with fundamentalism. Even now I have a hard time seeing it as something good and I’ve been out of fundamentalism for some five years now.

  7. Thinking back, I guess I just loved it because it was a chance to get out of the house and do something different.

  8. Then there are the Fundy churches that create their own and call it “camp”.

  9. Hahaha thanks for bringing up the song Wiggle Worm! It took a long time to bury that song because unfortunately I have a fantastic memory. It’s going to be stuck in my head for weeks.

  10. Actually, the “arky arky” song was brought back to memory. It conflicted with my nap a bit ago. 🙂

    Buuuut yeah. Good stuff. Spot on for sure.
    I can recall back in the day as a child (not that long really) when my previous IFB church had VBS. At first it was a blast, but extremely cheesy. Then they hired this “pro” guy to do it. Granted, he’s got a whole system down, and was much better, yet still ended up a bit cheesed out here and there.

  11. Ah, VBS. I remember it well. Some churches have started to wise up that parents don’t like signing their kids away for a few hours every day of a week and have started offering classes for parents, too. Wrap your brain around /that/.

    I remember the last VBS I ever helped in. One of the guys in my church (who at the time was considered one of the most spiritually mature fathers at our church, and who later just up and disappeared to run away with some other woman completely unassociated with our church in any way) sent a child back my way after one of the classes and said he was “really close to being saved.” Upon talking with the child in question I got absolutely no sense that he had come back for any other reason than to get a pat on the back. So we had a nice chat and I sent him home with kids tract and the knowledge that, if God truly had set apart this dear child for His kingdom, my not mindlessly leading him in a few words certainly wouldn’t stand in the way of him accepting Christ later on down the road. After he returned to the main group this guy came up to me and asked, and I quote, “Did you get him saved?” Needless to say, his teacher didn’t see things the same way as I did and was convinced that the kid would burn in hell thanks to my indecision.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m glad my God isn’t inconvenienced if I make a wrong choice.

  12. My mom had a Wordless umbrella. And I still have my Wordless bracelet. And necklace. And the Gospel in a Nutshell? You have that? I loved that.

    I loved all the merchandise. And I have taught Ti-Fam and the infamous story of brown-eyed Amy Carmichael dying her skin with coffee.

    And the first time I got yelled at in church was during VBS. . . . Good times.

  13. @Darrell, ditto about getting out of the house. My church’s VBS was okay, but they really put too much emphasis on inviting unsaved kids, to the point of being overbearing. You would get prizes for bringing the most visitors. I didn’t know many unsaved kids (being a sheltered Fundy kid). We would go to the VBS at the Lutheran church down the street; it was a lot cooler. Their snacks and crafts were so much better, and they even had kiddy CCM. Scandalous.

  14. VBS is sooooo different in mainline. Come to the light. Cross over. There’s grace. There’s forgiveness. There’s no manipulation.

  15. My husband sings the song:

    “I love Vacation Bible School.
    I love Vacation Bible School.
    Telling Bible stories and the other things we do —
    I love Vacation Bible School.”

    Always a hit.

  16. Our church sang (to the tune of “This Old Man”):

    VBS sure is fun!
    Bring your friends in one by one.
    Fill the church up, way up; fill it to the door.
    Then go out and get one more!

    (And, yes, I was one who had no one to invite. My only friends were a couple kids from my church and a couple school friends at the Christian school 1 and a half hours away! So I had to memorize Bible verses like crazy to get any points!)

  17. Pastor’s Wife:

    Wow! I remember that song!

    And, sadly, I was also one of those who didn’t have anyone to invite. At least I didn’t have any bad friends, ’cause we all know fundy kids are so perfect!

  18. Pastor’s Wife!!

    Did you have that one friend from another church you could invite and then she could invite you too? . . . That worked. Like for two summers.

    But otherwise . . . I hear ya, sistah!

  19. @ Camille, lol! Sort of defeats the purpose of reaching the unchurched, doesn’t it? 🙂

    I’ve had kids invite my kids to their church’s VBS to get points, but in where I lived as a child, there were no IFB churches nearby – would have tried it for the points back then if I could have!

  20. Not all VBS’s are like the one’s we recall “fondly” from our childhoods. Although, I didn’t mind VBS. . it was a way to get out of the house, and you got to do crafts and games and drink watered-down Flavor-aid and eat stale cookies. I was already used to the boring Bible flannelgraph lessons, so I could zone out during that time frame.

    Anyone remember Neighborhood Bible Time?? LOL. . .I do also remember that stupid “VBS sure is fun” song. And “Wiggle Worm”. . ugh!!!

    Nowadays, however, VBS really is fun at most churches. They do fun stuff (really), and the flannelgraph has gone by the wayside (at least in non-fundy churches)! My son loves going to VBS.

  21. and the “one’s” above in the first line should not have an apostrophe. Sorry!

  22. It’s interesting that you people criticize fundamentalists as being condemning and judgemental and legalistic but you all are practicing the very same things that you condemn in them. Do you not realize that the NT scriptures condemn the very things that you are doing. What you are doing with your time here on this site as well as others is not spiritually edifying or uplifting or helpful at all. Matter of fact it is just as harmful as all the stuff that you find harmful among the fundamentalists. Is the Lord really pleased with all this. I think not. If you are spiritually above the curve like you all talk this should really be above you all. Last word of advise…”Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he likewise fall.” I know, sounds king jamesish but what can I say. I like the KJV.

  23. How dare you judge us for judging you for judging…us? Hold on, I’ve lost my spot…

    I’ll get back to you in a second once I’ve finished counting on my fingers and drawing a chart.

  24. @ jonathan:

    all i heard was: im a fundamentalist!! i will now judge you!! i like the kjv!

  25. @ Jonathan:

    “What you are doing with your time here on this site as well as others is not spiritually edifying or uplifting or helpful at all.”

    May I ask, “What are you doing with your time here on this site?”

    Ask yourself, was your post “…spiritually edifying or uplifting or helpful at all?”

  26. Speaking for myself but this is a spiritually edifying website. For someone who is slowly coming out of fundamentalism, I NEED to see other points of views and handled by people who HAVE been there.

    So, Jonathan, yeah, this site is edifying…for me at least.

  27. But it’s not edifying to him, ergo, not edifying. Period.

    Stuff fundies like: substituting the whole for the part.

  28. I’m with Jessica…….as a recovering fundy, the laughter that I experience from this site is quite therapeutic!!!

  29. @Darrell, I think I’ll stick with Wiggle Worm. Had to sing Arky Arky when I was 11 in our children’s choir and I was mortified! Never totally got over the shame.

    also SFL- Constantly saying “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he likewise fall.”

  30. My apologies for digging up an older post, but we are still in VBS season and I just got this message from a fundy Face Book friend:

    “Yesterday for VBS, my class had 31, today, 34~ God has really blessed!!!!”

    Let’s hope God blesses her with patience to treat each child as an individual. Let’s hope God blesses her with a bond of love with each child and their family and a knowledge of their address. Let’s hope God blesses her with the time and energy to invest in discipling each one of those 34 as a follower of Jesus. Let’s hope God blesses them with a bigger classroom so 34 kids don’t go into critical mass and detonate.

    Why don’t they make it easy on themselves and hire a petting zoo, a ferris wheel and an ice cream truck. They could advertise free admission and get one of those counter turnstiles to keep accurate attendance through the gate. They could pass out the Wordless Book. They’d probably get way bigger numbers to boast about and still get the “gospel” to every little critter…er, creature.

  31. I agree that vbs has tons of kids who never show up again…our church has decided to do a family/kids event in the neighborhood..the goal to get the whole family coming to that they can be reached..any ideas?

  32. It’s VBS season again, and I just had to check to see whether Darrell had ever done a thread on the subject.

    I have such mixed memories . . . it’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work, and I dare say I have never known of any kids who have been added to our Sunday school ranks as a direct result of having attended VBS. I agree there’s an “easy believism” aspect to it, but then, that’s true of a lot of what the church does.

    Also, the “gimmick” approach of the packaged VBS programs really annoys me. There’s a new one out this year that focuses on zoo animals with the theme, “God is wild about you.” Gimme a break.

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