We started our annual Vacation Bible School this past Sunday night. So far, it has been a good week. More kids than expected showed up on Sunday, and it’s been growing with each night. We have enough workers to meet the need, which is always a fear for a small church like ours. The only technical hiccup is an A/C unit, but we’re hoping that is resolved today!
If you’ve done VBS for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve thought about the cost. VBS tends to be a budget line item in the church. It is seen as one of the major entry point for young families to a church. Also, the VBS tends to be one of the largest points of salvation (as well as youth camp) for a church. You can assume that many of the numbers reported to the convention as salvations came through VBS. So, we see the financial cost as “worth it.” Even if we don’t see many salvations at all, we say that one salvation is worth every penny of the One to Two (or more) thousand(s) of dollars spent upon the event.
I think an argument can be made concerning it’s effectiveness. I understand, it’s a golden calf for the church. It is unassailable, sacrosanct, untouchable amongst ministries of most churches. But, an argument can be made over any of our ministries (we’re an SBC congregation) when what we see is a decline in our churches. What exactly are “Salvations” that don’t result in Disciples? Is any thing we are doing, even VBS, really effective?
Now, to my point.
What about the hidden cost? The cost of working in today’s VBS, and how it impacts our families?
Granted, this is from a professional minister’s point of view. But many of our volunteers aren’t professional ministers. They are working a day job, and VBS is on top of their normal schedule.
You see, VBS is different now than days gone by. It used to be a huge experience, at times encompassing up to two weeks, for kids during the day. In an age that had many “stay at home” moms, there were many people who could put their full energy towards the ministry. Today, things are different.
Today’s VBS usually is at night. Most of our volunteers work during the day, and they are at the end of their energy level reserves when it comes to ministry time. As workers, we are on our last legs. By the end of the week, we will be totally exhausted. We have nothing left for our families, usually not even able to see them but in passing. You might as well be in a foreign country and Skype it in for all the time you are actually going to see your kids or spouse.
Oh, and lets not forget those families who have both spouses working in the VBS, and their kids are involved in it as well. Remember, VBS is for “young” children primarily. Sure, we have stuff for teenagers and adults, but it really is for little kids. We now have Vacation Bible Schools that go well past those children’s bed times. Most of these pre-K, Kindergarten, First through Fifth graders aren’t getting home until well after 9:00pm. If you are working the VBS, you (and your kids) are dragging in well past 9:00pm, if not 10:00pm!
Do you remember how important sleep is to a kid? Do you remember how important keeping a regular schedule for your young child is? Do you remember what it means to be a good parent?
Should your three-year old children really wake up tired in the morning, not fully rested because of a “ministry?”
Well, throw it all out the window for VBS. We actually sacrifice a week of healthy living for our children for this program. We actually sacrifice a week of good/responsible parenting for something that may rightly be questioned in effectiveness. Something that we do because we’ve always done it, and which we really don’t review. Something we don’t look at critically and say, “Is this really a good thing? Or, are we doing it because of yesteryear?”
There are so many things we sacrifice on the altar of ministry. I’m not so sure that it has to be our families, nor especially our kids.
You never know how “your ministry” will affect your children.
Perhaps we need to count the whole cost, even of things like VBS.
There has to be a better way.
So, have you thought about how your good intentions, even “ministry” may be hurting your family?