MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

All In One Room or Multiple Rooms?

July 28th, 2007 Viewed 1879 times

There seem to be two prevailing styles of Vacation Bible School out there today– one that has the children in the same room for the whole week and one that has them switching rooms every day.

Each of these has benefits for the students and the teachers, but each of them also has potential downfalls.  I am personally in favor of having the children in the same room all week, but I believe that having them switch also has its place.

Having The Kids In The Same Room All Week

The biggest reason I believe that this is the most beneficial way of running a VBS is the bond that can be formed between the students and the teacher.  In one week, you will probably know the names of all the children in the group, you may have a good idea of their spiritual aptitude, if not whether they are saved, and they will know you.

The crafts can be more intricate, because you can spend multiple nights working on them.  The same can be said about helping them to memorize more verses, and to actually show an interest in their lives.

The problems can arise because there is more work needed on the part of the leaders.  You have to be interesting every night (which can get difficult near the end of the week).  You plan all of your crafts, instead of having a one-night easy craft.  You will also get compared against other classes and what they are doing.

Having The Kids In Different Rooms Each Night

The biggest benefit here is in “theme-ing” and lesson preparation.  Because you have a specific night, instead of 7 to prepare for, your theme can be very specific.  You also only have one craft to prepare, one lesson to memorize, and as long as your careful and don’t “peak” too early, it’ll still be interesting by the end of the week, and you’ll probably be ready for any question.

The downsides here is that you may never know the kids names, or reach them on a more than very superficial level since you only will have them for a short period of time, that you will not be able to really know what was taught before to be able to build on it, and that you’re more detached from the kids.

What have you done in your VBS, and how effective do you feel it has been?

Is Vacation Bible School Relevant?

July 24th, 2007 Viewed 2214 times

This whole week I will be helping out my parents with their church’s Vacation Bible School.  VBS is an interesting, yearly event specifically because I’m not sure exactly what role it has in the modern church.

At one point in time VBS was a time for children to be able to get Bible education during the summer.  It was held during the day and could even last for up to two weeks.

It was also during the time of the big tent meetings, of prayer in schools, and a general acceptance of God.  It was an outreach of a church, and it gave everyone a chance to hear Bible stories.

The current incarnation of VBS (at least those that I’ve been involved with) is different.

  • It reaches primarily those that already know– why should you go to VBS at a church if you’re not religious?
  • It reaches kids from like minded churches– it does not seem to be reaching new people, but parents who shuffle their kids from place to place to be entertained.
  • It does not have good follow-up for those new people that come.
  • Since it has an audience of mostly churched children, it is too elementary in the faith to actually promote growth.
  • It’s become almost formula, with multiple different “vendors” creating material in multiple different formats (same lesson through out the week vs. different lesson every night).

So, let’s not just talk about VBS and what it has become, but let’s discuss some of the challenges of the modern VBS, and take this week where I’m working at a VBS to suggest ways that our churches could do it better.

Looking for a Pastor

July 1st, 2007 Viewed 3120 times, 1 so far today

The Chapel
I found this at hairlarious:

Dear Sir

We do not have a happy report to give, as we have not been able to find a suitable candidate for Pastor of this Church, though we have one promising prospect. We appreciate all the suggestions from the Church Members so we’ve followed up each one with interviews or calling at least 3 references. The following is our confidential report on the candidates:

1)- ADAM: Good man but problems with his wife. Also one reference told of how he and his wife enjoy walking nude in the woods.

2)- NOAH: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic building projects.

3)- ABRAHAM: Though the references reported wife-swapping, the facts seem to show he never slept with another man’s wife, but did offer to share his own wife with another man.

4)- JOSEPH: A big thinker, but a braggart, believes in dream-interpreting and has a prison record.

5)- MOSES: A modest meek man, but poor communicator, stuttering at times. Some times blows his stack and acts rashly. Some say he left an earlier Church over a murder charge.

6)- DAVID: The most promising leader of all until we discovered he had an affair with his neighbor’s wife.

7)- SOLOMON: Great preacher, but our parsonage would never hold all those wives.

8)- ELIJAH: Prone to depression — collapses under pressure.

9)- ELISHA: Reported to have lived with a single widow while at his former Church.

10)- HOSEA: A tender loving pastor, but our people could never handle his wife’s occupation.

11)- DEBORAH: Female.

12)- JEREMIAH: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting things, and reported to have taken a long trip to bury his underwear on the bank of a foreign river.

13)- ISAIAH: On the fringe? Claims to have seen Angels in Church. Has trouble with his language.

14)- JONAH: Refused GOD’S call into ministry until he was forced to obey by getting swallowed up by a great fish. He told us the fish later spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up.

15)- AMOS: Too backward and unpolished. With some seminary training he might have promise, but has a hang-up against wealthy people — might fit in better with a poor congregation.

16)- JOHN: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn’t dress like one. Has slept in the outdoors for months on end, has weird diet, and provokes denominational leaders.

17)- PETER: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper — even has been known to curse. Had a big run-in with Paul in Antioch. Aggressive, but a loose cannon.

18)- PAUL: Powerful CEO type leader and fascinating preacher. However, short on tact, unforgiving with young ministers, harsh and has been known to preach all night.

19)- TIMOTHY: Too young.

20)- YAHSHUA: Has had popular times, but once when his Church grew to 5,000 he managed to offend them all and his Church dwindled down to 12 people. Seldom stays in one place very long. And of course, he’s single.

21)- JUDAS: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good connections. Knows how to handle money. We’re inviting him to preach this Sunday. Possibilities here.

Now, for bonus points, can anyone find the scripture that matches each of these statements?

Sunday School Contest

June 3rd, 2007 Viewed 5859 times, 1 so far today


One of the most intimidating things that a person faces as they progress in their new Christian faith is when it comes to the point where they have to actually go to a church building on a Sunday. There are many different reasons that people have a hangup on going that I’m aware of.

  • They are used to having the day off.
  • Giving up a day is a big commitment.
  • They used to attend a different denomination and the fact that they are going to a different church building is a big thing with their family/friends.
  • Fear of the unknown.

If we’ve taken the time (as suggested in the previous post on this series) to bring them in on non-Sundays via a Vacation Bible School, they should not have as much problem coming on Sunday. However, I believe that one thing that we could do to provide a smooth transition is to integrate VBS into the Sunday School hour for a defined period with the goal of providing a welcoming, external facing, atmosphere for which to get people at ease to the transition.

Vacation Bible School

May 20th, 2007 Viewed 5941 times, 2 so far today

To me, Vacation Bible School is one of those things that seems to have lost an ultimate purpose because of the change in society in culture.  Think I’m mistaken?  At one point, VBS was run two weeks during the day.  They were done as a series of classes and singing.  Now, they’re done for a week, during the evening, with an emphasis on activities, recreation, fun, and conflicted target for the lesson time.

Conflicted, because you do not know whether you’re trying to reach those that are without Christ (i.e. evangelism) or those that come to the church (i.e. edification). Churches have become very insulated– where we seem to want to do more edification than evangelism. Or, if we’re going to do evangelism, we don’t know how to get people in or what to do with our own kids when then get there.

To me, this ministry does need some more thought as to what purpose it should fill. For the past three years, I’ve encouraged my church to abandon VBS altogether in favor of Good News Clubs. The reason? Because I believe that our target was evangelism, and we weren’t bringing in anyone new. I think it’s better to go out into the world and reach them where they are, and then bring them to the church, rather than expecting the current generation of people just to come to the church of their own free will.

To me, I see the new purpose of VBS as a bridge between Good News Clubs and Sunday School. It gets people to the church building, seeing the facilities, the personnel, but it’s not a service. It’s less intimidating than “dumping” new converts into the service. It gives the parents a better feeling, and you can do this in such a way to build excitement and build on to what has happened in the Good News Clubs.

As for target, education wise, it should be geared to beginning discipleship. We should utilize our kids to help us in this task. They can help by learning along with the new children (by helping them with new concepts) or they can help through service. We should also have some sort of adult class (perhaps English as a Second Language if there’s demand) so that we can have something for the adults to do and learn from (another chance for evanglisation) while we have the children.

The longer the time period, the better we achieve this goal. Daytime would take a lot of commitment, so it would have to be something that we worked up to. The goal of this step, in my mind, is to get children and families comfortable with the church and try to break down the barriers (whether they be past religious experience (i.e. Roman Catholicism) or apprehension by having something for new converts or those seeking at the church building that is not on Sunday.

Godly Husband: Do You Do Too Much?

January 4th, 2007 Viewed 5216 times, 1 so far today

olderhusbandandwifeheader.jpgHusbands, let’s be honest, there are many times when we have our priorities out of whack. There are a lot of things we as guys would like to do, some we need to do, and some we just plain refuse to do. But the reason that we use to determine which category life’s tasks fall into is often how it impacts what “I want to do” or “what I feel like doing” rather than is it what is best for our families.

This is closely coupled with where the request is coming from. If it’s a request to do something in the home, I think that we’re much more inclined to say we don’t want to do it or it is someone else’s job than we are to step up to the plate and do it. However, for some, if it’s from the outside (say a boss, a pastor, etc.) we’re more inclined to take on responsibility that takes away from time with our family.

I’ve just come off a three year stint as Deacon in my local church. When I started, we were expecting our second child, and I asked the pastor just how much time the job would entail. He told me that they have a monthly meeting and occasionally a meeting on a weekend if there was something important to discuss.

That was before the pastor resigned, the church split, I had to take over as pulpit committee chair, and then got picked for deacon chair and have had yet another controversial issue come to the front. All the while, one meeting a month became one meeting a week, and the meetings ran from when I got out of work until when my kids were in bed.

When it came time for nominations, I told the pastor that I was not willing to to be on this year because I needed a chance to clear my head, and because of the soon arrival of our fourth child. Young children, as I’m sure you are aware, need a lot of time and attention if you want to bring them up in a godly home.

I say all this to illustrate that men naturally (or should have) have a sense of duty and honor that makes them want to step up to the plate and complete the task. Well, you stepped up to the plate on your wedding day and said that you’d be with your wife in a lot of different conditions– and that included doing the tasks in the home that you may not want to do. It also included not taking on too many responsibilities that keep you out of the home.

Paul talks in the New Testament about the glories of the single life, and the big one that he mentions that relates to this topic is that he says that the married person has to be concerned with how he ministers to his wife, rather than the single person who can be totally consumed with his ministry to God.

Godly Husband, do you do too much to be of good use to your family? If so, it’s time to start practicing saying “no.”

Legalism

September 14th, 2006 Viewed 2528 times

GavelI often wondered if the Christian life would be a whole lot easier if God would just give us direction for everything that we were to do. If we could pray and receive an e-mail telling us exactly what to do, where to go, who to meet, etc. (the reasoning goes) then it would be a whole lot easier to obey Him and we wouldn’t wonder if we were doing the right or wrong thing.

I think this is legalism’s appeal. Throughout the centuries many religions have formed that have told people exactly what they must and must not do. Roman Catholics have requirements about church attendance, prayer beads, and other traditions and formalism that tells them exactly what they must do. In tribal communities there are sacrifices to gods that must be done in certain ways. Jehovah Witnesses have a certain number of hours that they must be reaching out to get more converts.

In some ways, Fundamental/Evangelical Christianity is one of the less stringent forms of Christianity, and I believe that this is why it has a tendency to become legalistic.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.