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VBS ladies – the pros and cons

Warning: This blog is calculated to offend a few people, though offense is often a first step in making necessary changes. VBS ladies – I’ve seen them on every trip. They are great at organizing and like classroom settings. They can be a blessing, or a source of consternatio…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Warning: This blog is
calculated to offend a few people, though offense is often a first step in
making necessary changes.

VBS ladies – I’ve seen them on every trip. They are great at organizing and like
classroom settings. They can be a
blessing, or a source of consternation if they’re given too much authority and allow activities to supersede relationships.

Our long-term staff member, Jennifer Gonzalez (pictured here), is a good example of someone who has mastered the ministry, focuses on relationships and now serves as more of a guru to those who are learning their craft.

VBS ladies occasionally lose the forest for the
trees along the way. Good with details,
they miss the big picture. Schedules and
curriculum take on outsize importance.

I call them “VBS ladies” because I have rarely seen a male
in charge of organizing a VBS. VBS is a
staple of mission projects because the children are quickest to respond, have
the most free time, and the mom’s are happy to have them out from underfoot.

VBS works well when the ratio of participants to children
exceeds 1 to 10, requiring the kind of church-as-a-show approach favored in America.
This necessitates the particular
organizational skills that VBS ladies bring to the table. Crafts and skits and games can keep masses of
children under control.

Of course what children want most is none of this. What they yearn for is eye contact, touch,
and a personal connection that says, “Despite all indications to the contrary, you,
my dear child, are in fact special.”

Comments (4)

  • Great observations, my experience as well. I wonder if you could elaborate on what you’ve seen or even think would work in reaching children in youth. What if budget were not a a big issue, a church actually prioritized reaching the next generation, and was committed to complete holistic solutions.

    btw, check out a video we made to frame the challenge: Breakthroughchurch.com (http://youtube.com/watch?v=nModrpMfQS0 on YouTube.com)


  • Good stuff, Seth…thanks!

    I think one of the problems is that the adult leadership in the church does not recognize the spiritual capacity and the leadeship potential of kids 7-17. Many of these kids have large disposable incomes, drive the trends and pop culture of our day, warrant millions in ad budgets by US corporatiopns, are media savy and life-savy like no previous generation, yet we still relegate them to 1 hr a week canned Bible stories, craft times, pizza parties, and a 5-day , once-a-year backyard VBS, and wonder why 18 to 30 year olds are so hard to reach, or keep in the church.

    We need a Marshall Plan or a Manhatten Project mindset. When society or a community of people recognize how important it is to reach a goal, or the consequences of not realizing it are unthinkable, history has shown that people are willing to make sacrifices. We need a holistic and comprehensive stratgey addresssing the complete world and culture of the generation (personal, home, school) year-round/all week. And I persoanlly believe it has to involve a lot of listening, coaxing and guiding their God-given dreams to fruition and to the gift-based places in leadership for which God has given them natural authority(even at an early age). When kids are given a lot of exposure to opportuniies that follow their interests, dreams and true purpose begins to blossom. If we come alongside their dreams and passions and connect them to their matching place of need in the community or in the world we won’t have to worry about motivation. The church, family, and community has to see their responsibility to empower and support these dreams all the way, whatever it takes (again think Marshall Plan). Genuine, lasting transformation, both personal and of the community has to come out of a heart on fire with the unique dreams and passions God put there.

    But we expect too little our of youth today. When they are pursing a big dream or important cause, in the spiritual flow of their God-fanned passions we won’t have to worry about whether or not they will stay with the church program…they are becoming the church…a new transformed church…a glorious Church, one that many today have not yet envisioned.

    How do we go to that level? Can we identify catalysts for change…dream icubators, dream teams, youth cells and empowering networks, business support, school and community partnerships? How do we create the support structure for that kind of vision in the church? Could parents and young adults be motivated, and along what line? Are their enough adults whose own caling and dreams would be fulfilled in this kind of movement?

    Also, what dialog, brainstorming, and planning models would facilitate rapid development and implemetation. How do we engage children and youth themselves into the imagining and planning process early and with enough teeth to drive action?

    Also, how do we enlarge this online conversation and idea-genrating process? And if this vision (or something like it) is indeed vastly superior to where we are and where we seem to be going, isn’t it worth it? Isn’t it worth all the prioritazation, thoughfulness, creativity, and sacrifice God may be asking?

    God, grant us hearts full of You, full of your compassion, vision, creativity, imagination, boldness and courageous faith!

    Sorry for the long comment…but I’m kind passionate about this dream myself (ha).


    Media: Breakthroughchurch.com
    Ideas: withreach.com
    Blog: withreachconversations.blogspot.com/

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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