In an earlier blog post, one of a the points that I got the most questions about was why a VBS has to be a church-wide event. My reasoning behind this statement was because I have done VBS as a departmental event and a church-wide event. VBS is such a large event that it either adds to the life of the church or it drains life from the children’s ministry department within the church. Here are a few of the differences I have found between a departmental VBS and a church-wide VBS.
A department VBS is lost in the sea of summer promotions. A church-wide VBS every department feels the pressure so they each push its importance. We canceled our worship team practice because we needed the space but it said to worship team that we are in this together. It served as a reminder that they should register their kids and invite others to come. We canceled our regular programming for youth ministry the week of VBS because of space and because so many of our youth are involved in making VBS a reality.
We did VBS for 5 years in a row and stopped doing them for the past 12 years because we weren’t accomplishing what we set out to accomplish with them. Last year we started to do them again here is why we started again and why you should do VBS as well.
- We live in a very pluralistic society that doesn’t value church but values traditions. There are many parents who have young kids who either don’t go to church or infrequently attend church but have great memories of VBS. They want their kids to have those some memories and will put their kids in VBS before taking them on the weekend.
- Having 15 hours in the VBS week to speak new truth or reinforce what is being taught at home is invaluable. The new regular attendees standard is now 12 to 24 Sundays a year. VBS gives you a nice chunk of time to drill down into core truth that kids need in the world we now live in.
- Partnering with parents starts with equipping parents. Doing VBS with this in mind makes VBS more valuable than a simple stand alone program.
We live in a culture that no longer sees its sinfulness but is saturated by relativism and tolerance. It wasn’t that long ago that you would attend a sporting event, and someone had a John 3:16 sign they would hold up for the camera. It wasn’t long ago that nearly every child in America knew one verse by heart, John 3:16. Matthew 7:1 has replaced John 3:16 in our nation’s life and practice, particularly in personal and social media conversations. Judgment is out tolerance and love are in.
If “Judge not lest ye be judged” was an issue in the 20th century than it has become a monster in the 21st century.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains “there are many who say that ‘judge not’ must be taken simply and literally as it is, and as meaning that the truly Christian man should never express an opinion about others. They must do no judging whatsoever, that we must be easy, indulgent and tolerant, and allow almost anything for peace and quiet and especially unity …they say, what is needed today is unity and fellowship.”
What Christ is proclaiming in his sermon is not the absence of conviction for the sake of unity.
Recently I read a book by Sherry Turkle entitled Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. Dr. Turkle said several things that made me think about the beauties and perils of technology. One of my favorite quotes by her is “If you don’t teach your kids to alone they will only know how to be lonely.”
Turkle in expanding on the idea of loneliness she said something so profound about the difference between loneliness and solitude.
Paul Tillich has a beautiful formulation: “Language . . . has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” Loneliness is painful, emotionally and even physically, born from a “want of intimacy” when we need it most, in early childhood. Solitude— the capacity to be contentedly and constructively alone— is built from successful human connection at just that time. But if we don’t have experience with solitude— and this is often the case today— we start to equate loneliness and solitude. This reflects the impoverishment of our experience. If we don’t know the satisfactions of solitude, we only know the panic of loneliness.
Indeed, research shows that adolescents experience solitude as downtime that can feel bad in the short run. But in the long run it facilitates healthy development. Without solitude, in days and nights of continual connection, we may experience those “moments of more” but lives of less.
Honored to be speaking at Lifeway’s ETCH family ministry conference. Really looking forward to learning, growing, and connecting. If you are looking for a conference to attend as a kids or youth pastor I hope you consider ETCH. Really love the new direction the LifeWay family ministry team is going. From the keynotes to the breakouts they going out of their way to make the gospel the main event. For that I am grateful. I will be doing two breakouts for the 2016 conference.
- Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way – This breakout is geared to anyone who leads at any level. It will focus on the reality that to be a great leader you must be a great follower. That in order to disciple others you must first be a radical disciple of Christ. That who you follow is ultimately more important than who you lead.
- Why Theology Matters in Family Ministry – This breakout I will make the case that we are all theologians the question is not whether we think about God it’s are our thoughts about God true? We will also talk about how what we believe does and should impact how we lead the kids and students God has entrusted in our care.
If you are coming let me know I would love to connect at some point during the conference.
||March 10, 2016—May 10, 2016
Music City Center
||201 5th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
||Click here to register.
||Click here for more information.