It's Vacation Bible School week at our church. I love Vacation Bible School. I was thinking about it . . . I've either directed, taught, led music, and/or acted in some church's VBS every summer for the past 23 years! I think VBS is a great thing because it capitalizes on kids' love of fun and games and exposes them to the gospel in a creative way. It also reaches their parents and gives the church a great chance to work together.
This year at our church I'm once again the Bible story teller, which means I get to dress up in all these crazy outfits and teach kids the Bible. Even though it's a bit embarrassing to put on silly costumes, it's the easiest job of them all. I don't have to manage children, do crafts, memorize lines, or anything real hard - I just have to be gullible enough to dress up and act like a Bible character.
Here are pictures of two characters I've been so far this week. At left I'm Jonah just after his experience in the belly of the big fish, and below I'm Nashpenaz the repentant Ninevite. It's fun to get in touch with my hippie alter-ego.
As you can tell, our VBS this year is all about the book of Jonah. It's a great story about God's mercy.
The most fun thing about my role is that the kids get a big charge out of telling me that I'm really Pastor Mike. Then when I'm out of costume they think they're big stuff when they come up to me and say, "Hey, I know that was really you up there!!" It's fun playing dumb and acting like I don't know what they're talking about.
Tomorrow I have to be a worm. Read Jonah 4 if you don't know how that fits into the story of Jonah.
One of my favorite VBS memories goes back to my years as a seminary student in St. Louis. I was hired to be the student assistant to the pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church. The pastor asked me to revamp the church's Vacation Bible School program. Now this was a church with a rich history. Francis Schaeffer had been pastor of this church back in the 1940s when it was located in downtown St. Louis. In order to reach the kids of the inner city with the gospel, Schaeffer and his wife Edith ran a 4-week-long program they called Summer Bible School. Under Schaeffer's guiding hand the Bible School was enormously popular. He bused kids to the church from all over St. Louis.
Believe it or not, the church kept Schaeffer's 4-week Summer Bible School going every year even after Schaeffer left and the church moved to the suburbs. As time passed, it became more like a school than a fun summertime activity for kids. So when I took over I changed it to a 2-week program and some people in the church were aghast! We EVEN changed the name to "Vacation" Bible School, and made it (of all things) FUN! As people found out that we really weren't damaging the children, they got enthusiastic and we soon had a big VBS going with a new curriculum, music, games, crafts, and Bible stories.
And I've been a believer in VBS ever since.