Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today's "Vacation Bible School" offers more "vacation" than "Bible"

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

As reported by Jessamy Brown of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on June 19, 2011:

Call it vacation Bible school on steroids.

At The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, more than 6,300 people attended last week's "Summer Spectacular" event designed to bring the story of Noah's ark to life, complete with a petting zoo and a Broadway-style musical that recounted the tale over three nights.

It's a stark contrast to the VBS days of the past, when kids made praying hands out of plaster and listened to Bible stories before nap time.

Today's summer-based schools are more akin to day camp than Sunday school, with churches using elaborate props, electronics and themed curricula that can be bought from church denominations or publishers.

The materials make it easier for church officials to plan the events and provide lessons that connect to the religious concepts they want to emphasize, church youth directors say.

"I like to say it's not your mom and dad's VBS," said Patty Weaver, children's minister at The Hills. "We believe that God's word is so powerful that if we make it culturally relevant then it will really penetrate the heart of the child. It just needs to speak to their world today. We need to make sure we're telling it in a way that connects with children."

Today, Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth launches its VBS program, which is advertised on a billboard on Interstate 35W.

Children in kindergarten through sixth grade will participate in the "Big Apple Adventure." They'll do games and activities to help them learn a concept each day, all based on landmarks they would see on a New York City trip.

The church sanctuary is being decorated in a 15-foot backdrop of Times Square. Officials rented a Statue of Liberty prop from the Tarrant Baptist Association that it made for a training session, said Scott Eudaley, children's minister.

Theme programs

Travis Avenue Baptist started using themes in the late 1990s to help make the program more engaging to today's youth, Eudaley said.

First United Methodist Church of Mansfield is also using the "Big Apple" theme at its vacation Bible school this week...

...The "Big Apple" program is produced by Nashville-based LifeWay Christian Resources. A basic sampler kit costs $69.99 and includes clip-art decorations, Bible study cards, leader guides and a music CD, according to LifeWay's website.

The Hills created its own curriculum for the Summer Spectacular, enlisting an army of volunteers to decorate the church with huge rainbows, life-size stuffed animals and a paper cutout of an ark in each classroom.

The lesson for junior high students included a PowerPoint presentation.

At the end of each night, families crowded pews in the auditorium to watch a 42-member cast in Noah: God Keeps His Promises, a musical written by a church member with lyrics set to songs by contemporary artists such as Lady Gaga.
As the old saying goes, "What you win them with is what you win them to," or put another way, "what wins them is what keeps them." If all you're providing to children in church is entertainment, that's the only thing that will keep them there. What does a "Big Apple" theme have to do with the Bible? And wouldn't an old hymn or two provide better Christian instruction for children than lyrics to songs by Lady Gaga?
This nonsense isn't just found in Fort Worth. From the religion Calendar of the Edmonton Journal on July 2, 2011:

Wii Love Pizza, July 9, at 5: 30 p.m., Zion Baptist Church, 11908 132nd Ave. Games night for 12-to 20-year-olds. For more information, call 780-454-1347 or visit zionbaptist.net

Vacation Bible School, July 18 to July 22, 9: 30-11: 30 a.m., Callingwood Road Presbyterian Church, 6015 184th St. Fun, crafts, songs, stories and snacks for kids ages four to 12. To register, call 780-487-8531 or e-mail crpc-pas@telus. net....

...PandaMania Vacation Bible School, Aug. 8 to 12, from 9 a.m. to noon each day, Zion Baptist Church, 11908 132nd Ave. Kindergarten to Grade 6. Register at 780-454-1347 or zionbaptist.net

1 comment:

  1. The Big Apple is the VBS in a local church, advertised during a parade with a float and everything. Balderdash!