It’s that time of year again when churches are pulling volunteers from all walks of life, and resources from anywhere possible to put on a VBS children will always remember. I, personally, LOVE VBS. It’s my favorite outreach program put on by our church. It’s fun, exciting, and we see kids we only see once a year. There’s wacky decor, and more church members pulling together than any other event.
There’s a struggle that comes with Vacation Bible School, though. The long crazy hours weeks before the actual date, wondering whether or not you will have kids show up, and praying you will have enough volunteers to pull it off is a wild ride. Then there are the kids. They’re the light of VBS, the reason we do it, and also the reason we’re crazy at the end of the day. They’re full of energy, and their hearts are wide open to receive the word. But, sometimes, it can be tough. If you’ve ever volunteered at VBS, you know what I’m talking about. Whether at school, a birthday party, or daycare, there are always children who need more. They’re NOT problematic; they’re NOT bad kids. They just need more. More love. More attention. More Christ.
As VBS volunteers it’s our job to give them more. Sometimes VBS is the only time they come to church. If you’re an avid church goer, and your kids know where their Sunday School room is every Sunday morning, let that sink it. Sometimes this one week out of the summer is their only exposure to church. A lot of times these are the kids that make you want to pull out your hair, but these are also the kids NEVER need to know that. NOT EVER.
VBS is not daycare. As volunteers, we’re not paid workers required to make a note of their “problem areas” and report back to the parents with bad news at the end of the day. What is that going to do for the child? Maybe they’ll get in trouble when they get home. What does that do? It causes those children to lose the excitement for VBS. Losing the excitement for VBS means they’ll stop listening. Not listening means they WON’T learn.
If this is the only experience a child has of church for the entire year shouldn’t we make it the best week possible? Shouldn’t we show them God’s love and not just tell them about it? Children need to hear from us! They need to know we think they’re kind, able, smart, enough, important.
Chances are if there are problems at VBS it’s happening at school too, which means they’re on summer break from the notes home and principle visits. It also means Mama and Daddy are getting a full days experience of their child. Give the kids a break. Give the parents a break. Kind words will change behavior. Kind words will also stick with them for the rest of their lives.
While we can’t let them run through the sanctuary hopping over pews or draw on the walls, we can show them grace. We can choose to correct the behavior without making individual children feel like, well, crap. (Sorry, kinda…) And we can use this week to make an impact on their lives by showing them the love of Christ. Especially if this week is their only week. Let’s give them more.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6