VBS: If you’re not a little insane at the end, you’re not doing it right.

Okay readers, I’m back.  I had to take a hiatus due to moving, getting married, settling into married life (you know, just a few small life changes).  I am happy to report that married life is pretty wonderful so far.  Resolving to love and respect my husband in a godly manner – to go from a single life to a shared life – is challenging but rewarding.  What makes it so much easier is when I remember Jesus’ command to love each other just as He loved us (1 John 4:10).  If Jesus was willing to die a horrible death because He loved us, I can definitely then clean my husband’s laundry and make him orange juice out of love.

But I don’t want to delve too deeply into Christian marriage in this post.  Oodles of other articles on that topic, written by Ph.D.s with decades of experience, already exist.  This post is to psych up myself, and many others out there, for working at Vacation Bible School (VBS) this summer.  VBS programs can vary from church to church – morning, evening, or all-day; mixed ages or divided ages;  divided genders or mixed genders – but all programs take a great deal of dedication and hard work on behalf of the adult volunteers.  Our church will host VBS in the evening, and children will be divided into group according to age.  Now, in the summertime heat, after a long day at work, it can be difficult to show up every evening with a smile on one’s face and maintain a fervent, cheerful attitude while working with children riding high on the wave of summer vacation.  Crafts, games, music, and snacks are used to keep the children engaged, but the main point of VBS is to teach children more about God.  But kids won’t learn much of God’s love if the leaders do not show it themselves.

Thanks be to God, my husband and I came across a trio of verses that are perfect for motivating VBS workers to have the right attitude.  First Thessalonians 5:14 reads, “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”  From past experiences as a VBS and children’s ministries worker, I have encountered children who are idle and disruptive, disheartened, and weak.  And God knows I’ve needed extra helpings of patience while teaching Sunday School and working in the toddler nursery.  I just love how this verse encourages me to be a friend to the kids but not to withhold my “mom voice” if I need to use it.  First Thessalonians 5:15 continues with, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”  With God’s help I will see any negative behavior quickly and “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife would say.  I will encourage the kids to learn more about each other, and cooperate, and – oh, I hope and pray – avoid tattling.

Striving for peace and harmony among the kids is a great and godly goal, but keeping a loving attitude towards other workers is just as important.  First Thessalonians 5:16 states, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Holding grudges or bickering is difficult when you choose to rejoice, pray, and give thanks with your fellow VBS volunteers, especially when you do so in all circumstances.  Is it raining?  Thank you, God, that the kids won’t get sunburned tonight.  Are the microphones not working?  Thank you, God, that the children will need to listen extra hard.  Are you wiping up juice that was spilled on the kitchen floor?  Thank you, God, for this awesome arm workout.  And thank you that we have safe drinking water for the kids instead.  Are you waiting by the bathroom door while a six-year-old is taking an ETERNITY in there?  Thank you, God, for indoor bathrooms.  (When my mom went to VBS as a kid, her church only had an outhouse.)

God is good to give us words of encouragement when we need them.  To summarize, these verses in First Thessalonians have motivated me to work at VBS in the following way:

  • Give equal attention to all the kids, but give particular attention in certain cases: warnings or correction for idleness or disruption; extra kind words and encouragement to shy or upset kids; respectful support to children with disabilities or other limitations.
  • Encourage cooperation and friendship among the kids.
  • Rejoice, pray, and give thanks with other workers.

If you are working at a VBS program this summer, thank you for your efforts, and God bless you as you show God’s qualities to the children that He brings your way.  When parents see you with cheerful hearts and faces despite the long hours you’ve worked and the commotion around you, hopefully they will see that you’re not insane, just strengthened by God.  (Okay, by Friday, you might be just a touch insane :).

Photo credit: http://www.churchplanting.com/how-important-is-children%E2%80%99s-ministry-in-church-planting/#axzz4AiGRTkdr