We just finished a week of Vacation Bible School here at First Chinese Baptist Church. Every year I struggle with the expense in money, volunteers, and energy needed to provide a week of singing, cooking, sets, and story time. I ask myself: is it really good stewardship? Now before you shoot back any emails here is my reasoning.
Most of the children already go to another church. So if one goal is to bring more believers into church, its not working. Honestly, around Fresno there are some tremendous VBS ministries provided by huge churches. They have multi-staff, beautiful playgrounds, huge budgets and we just can’t compete. We do add a cross-cultural aspect to the curriculum so that helps bring people that would not ordinarily come.
Some of you might be thinking, “But pastor it brings the community together, provides a safe place for the children, forces us all to think about our walk with the Savior.” Yes you are right. But is it worth it?
I was leading the Bible Experience one evening. I was retelling the story of Peter and how he ran away from the Savior. The point was to discuss forgiveness. During the time together the children were invited to dip their fingers into some red water color and place a fingerprint on the cross and make a comment about their personal walk with Christ. Struggling with the question, “Had they ever ran away from the Savior?”
All of the older children did the task. But, for most of them was just one more activity until the bell rang and thy could be released. Until the 4 and five year olds came into the classroom. They listened, I mean really listened, to how the rooster crowed. They saw a volunteer come in dressed as the Apostle Peter and he looked exhausted, stressed, and shed tears over the fact that he did not stand with Jesus. No, he ran away and knew in his heart there would never be forgiveness for him. They heard me read from the New Testament about an angel that told visitors to the tomb to run and tell the good news, also to Peter the runner, about the risen Savior!
Then all the little ones dipped their fingers in the paint. Placed their print on the cross and stood there looking, looking all the way to the top. Now get this! They bowed their heads and said, “Jesus, I’m sorry. Forgive me.”
So, to answer my own question. Yes, it was worth the time, the trouble, the anxiety, the tears and the dollars. To have the opportunity to stand together and look at the cross. To say together, little ones and adults, “I am sorry Jesus.” Then to know yes to know we are forgiven!
Dear Savior, creator of it all. Help us to shine, to radiate your love and forgiveness so others might not see us but see a little child resting in the shadow of the cross.