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The Worst VBS I’ve Ever Seen

 —  July 15, 2014 — 8 Comments

Two of Casa Caro’s current inhabitants recently experienced a Vacation Bible School that missed every box on the “how to run a solid VBS” check list. Small churches, you can do better than this! (and don’t worry – this church won’t see this post. Trust me.)

-Permission slip for parents to sign? Nope.

-Medical info on each child? Nope x 2 (and one of mine is a diabetic).

-VBS info on their church website? Last update was 2012

-Theme from one of the major publisher’s? R u kidding me?

-Songs learned? Hallelu/Praise ye the Lord, The Lord said to Noah, I’ve got the Joy, Rock/Sand song-circa 1960.

-Opening worship? In sanctuary where they all had to file in one by one in total silence.

-End of the day release? Open the doors and let them run out.

-Follow up? How could they – they never took names or addresses in the first place.

…and yet my two loved it! Couldn’t wait to get up to go each day (and these are kids that only experience “church” at my house). Climbed into the car SO excited to tell me what they learned, ate, did. They felt loved and accepted. They begged me to come the last day to hear their songs.

Later that final afternoon, the 6-year old was sitting on the bench in our front yard.”What are you doing?” I asked. “God provides so I’m asking him for something I need.” “Did you learn that at VBS?” “Yes.” “What are you asking for?” “A kitten.” Yikes. That’s gonna be an interesting carry-on for the plane ride home.

Stephanie Caro

Stephanie Caro

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Stephanie Caro has been involved in ministry to youth and youth workers in the local church since…well, a long time – 30+ years. Her humorous, straightforward style keeps her busy presenting and coaching at conferences, training events, camps, mission trips, retreats, churches, etc. Her latest books are, “Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches” and “99 Thoughts for the Smaller Church Youth Worker,” published by Group/Simply Youth Ministry. Stephanie is a contributing author to several youth ministry resources in addition to her regular column “Smaller Church Youth Ministry” in Group Magazine. Stephanie is Senior Consultant for Mark DeVries’ Ministry Architects and the director for their Small Church Ministry Architects division. She and her hubby, Steve, live in Houston, TX. All 7 kids are grown and out – praise God!

8 responses to The Worst VBS I’ve Ever Seen

  1. The VBS” checklists are great but it’s always about the LOVE with the kids :-) Great article!

  2. Sounds like they didn’t miss “every box.” :)

  3. Most small churches can’t afford a theme from Group, RBP, Lifeway or Go Fish Guys. When the pastor is bi-vocational to help offset ministry expenses. The most important thing is your kids felt loved and cared for. I’ve been to churches who “check off every box” and that is as spiritual and loving as they get. There’s a really good chance that this was done by people that volunteered and who work 40 hours a week, minimum, at someplace other than the church.

    They probably don’t have a paid children’s ministry staff like my church does. Lighten up. You’re sounding like a pharisee in the way you run them down for not doing it “to the letter.” Love conquers all. Sounds like your kids learned more from this ad-hoc VBS than all of those big themed ones at the big church.

    • Stephanie Caro
      Stephanie Caro July 24, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Howie – Did you make it down to the last two paragraphs? Love was the point. My kids felt cherished. Although the checklist is a great one for many reasons, the fact that they were excited, had a great time, and got the God point was the takeaway.

    • Umm… did you read all the way to the end. It was at the end that you see how God works despite an imperfect Children’s Ministry team checking off every mark. That was the point the writer was trying to make!! And the writer made the point quite well if you read it all the way through. Yes, those checklists help protect our children from predators, medical mishaps, and from having an empty experience, but Only the Lord can fully protect from all of those in the end, and obviously, we should still strive to make sure those checks are taken care of-but if a church is running very “old school” someone, anyone, can pray for protection and provisions-and the writer obviously showed how that is true. Great story :) read in its entirety

  4. We recently experienced this in our Weds kids program. A woman in her 70’s came up with a curriculum that told a story from the gospels, had kids in simple costumes acting out each story, and had VERY old songs (Tell Me the Story of Jesus). Kids loved it.
    It’s not what I’d recommend, but it worked.

  5. Always fun to see that despite weaknesses in programming, follow-up, advertising, and being relevant: People still impact people. Sounds like your kids had some great takeaways! Although I strive to do “great” programmatic things, the latter rewards of kids growing in faith trumps the “checklist.”

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