This is actually a repost from a couple of years back. Some readers may know that my wife and I recently left our longtime church and were searching for a new church home to serve in. Sadly, I was afraid we were not going to be able to participate in Vacation Bible School, as we had no church home yet. Well, the Lord led us last weekend to come forward for membership at a place we had been visiting. It just so happens that they were about to have their VBS, and it just so happened they needed helpers. So, I was a helper for the kid’s music last week. What a blessing it was, too! Anyway, this is a post I wrote a couple of years back that sort of explains the rather strange relationship I have with the kid’s ministry. Enjoy!
It’s Vacation Bible School time again! Actually, it’s in two weeks, but many preparations are being made and finalized even as we speak. What you see up above is the theme song from last year’s VBS and the backdrop for our story today. There is a story buried in here somewhere, I promise, but some preliminaries need to be covered first.
Vacation Bible School is, by far, the single biggest outreach we do in any given year to young people. In fact, in terms of investment of time and people, it is likely the biggest thing we do all year long.
It runs for a week, Monday through Friday, from 630-830 PM nightly. We will, between teachers, helpers, and students run about 100 people per night in attendance. To illustrate the numbers properly, it needs to be remembered that any Sunday where over 100 come for preaching is considered a big deal.
It’s a big deal
I know it seems like I really am involved with the kids at church, and I guess I am; however, I have a secret! I don’t really naturally like kids that much! Before readers go bonkers on me allow me to explain. I love the kids; I am heavily burdened for the souls and lives of the kids; I am certainly called to that particular ministry. In my natural state, however, I simply have no inborn affinity for these folks. Shocking huh?
Kids are kids. They are not adults. They carry themselves like children, and they act like children. Due to life, I grew up fast and was never really a kid in the sense we know it today. By the time I was 13 or 14 I was basically a fully functioning dysfunctional adult.
Kids are silly. Then don’t make sense and they do silly things I have NEVER been silly. In fact, I trend towards extreme seriousness and somberness. Word on the street is I emerged from the womb a curmudgeon, punched the doctor in the nose, and told him to stop acting silly.
Kids have no goals or objectives. They just….are.. My life was all about goals from a young age, with the primary goal being that I wanted my life to not be what it was. I was making plans for college at 13.
Kids are full of drama. They have drama within themselves; they have drama with each other; they have drama with their parents. I hate drama. Let me clarify; I hate random drama. The only drama I like is what I create to meet some specific goal I have in mind.
Kids and I are NOT a natural fit. Yet God, in His infinite wisdom has clearly called, cajoled, and beat me into working with them. I have tried to stop, and actually did walk away from them for almost a year. It was not a good year. Can you say chastisement? During that time, He refused to let me be successful at anything I had decided was a better plan. Point made God, thanks.
Back to VBS for one more side track before I tell the story. In past years each teacher has taught one age group for the entire week. We would teach the same group five lessons, one for each night. Last year we changed up and did a rotating thing. We were to teach the same lesson five nights to different age groups. We were to teach kindergarten through 8th grade. It is a good plan, for good reasons.
I had always taught the 5th and 6th graders, could manage with the 7th and 8th, and could muddle my way with the 3d and 4th with help. Kindergartners and 1st and 2 graders? Um..no way! My helper and I cut a deal; I would teach the 3d grade on up, and she was going to do the kindergartners, and 1st and 2d graders. It was a workable plan.
Okay, now on to the actual story!
God is turning me into a silly fool apparently, as one of the most fun things I get to do all year is dress my role based on the theme for VBS. Last year was “Camp Courageous,” which was a camping theme. Last year, I was “Ranger Wally” for a week. Heck even the older kids looked at me as if I had no sense. Hat, boots, shorts, walking stick, and even a little park ranger badge.
Monday through Wednesday(3d grade through 8th) went without a hitch, and I thought I was off the hook, as only the kindergartners and 1st and second graders were left. Not my circus and not my monkeys, so to speak.
At the appointed time, 6 kindergartners filed in, took seats, and prepared to be entertained(um…taught.) All is quiet on the Western Front at this point in time. Understand that the classes are 45 minutes long to properly understand the following events. We established order, and my helper began teaching, and all seemed well. God has no sense of humor? God doesn’t test us? Things don’t always go as planned? You bet. 10 minutes into a 45 minute class, my helper quite obviously wound down, turned my way, and said words that turned my heart into an ice cube:
“Well, that’s all I have for you all tonight. Ranger Wally, what would YOU like to add?”
Despite my intense, fervent prayers that I be instantly whisked to heaven on a chariot, that failed to occur and something had to be done, and fast! Kindergartners apparently have the attention spans of fleas.
We put little stickers in their books. That took 2 minutes
We colored some bible pictures. I now know David was purple. That took another two minutes.
The fleas began to drift.
We did what any self respecting campers would do. After stern warnings about the need for quietness so as to not wake up the bears and other hungry wild animals in the other classrooms, we took a hike! We hiked up and down the hallway, and even outside in the drive. That used a bit of time.
We hiked to the creek to get some water. That would be the water fountain. We dashed to the woods because a couple now had to….um…..go. The woods, of course, were the bathrooms. We used yet more time.
Finally, we returned to our campsite were we sat around the tent(real) and fire(fake) and ate the marshmallows which were only supposed to be for display. And we told a campfire story. Our story was about a God who loved them, and who came to earth as the man Jesus because He loved them. We told a story about Jesus who would teach them and comfort them and be with them always.
The fleas began to drift again, and class was close to being over, so another hike seemed in order. Since the young ones had had just about all of the quiet they could bear it was obvious their need for noise had to be exploited. So we dashed out the door and had a quick class on not just hiking, but marching in cadence. As in One, Two, Three, FOUR! (The Four being delivered loudly by the group of kindergartners.) In our defense, classes were almost over, so we didn’t really disrupt too much!
So, we trooped down the hall, calling cadence the whole way. Several doors were flung open to see what the ruckus was, but overall the looks were fairly benign as those classrooms were filled with young people and their teachers. As we entered the fellowship hall, where the adult class was being held, the looks got somewhat sterner to say the least. Then, in our grand finale, we trooped into the sanctuary and took our seats for the music portion of the evening.
Usually, I have a point, related to some Bible lesson here in my posts. Not so much this time. This lesson is easy.
Loosen up! A little fun won’t kill you!