To VBS, or not to VBS


(Jay Nelsestuen) #1

As many of you know, I attend a church that is very YEC. I’ve been there for the greater part of my life, and couldn’t imagine leaving, as that’s where my family goes. For several years (most of my teenage life, really), I’ve volunteered for Vacation Bible School. The church used to use the Group curriculum, but more recently they’ve switched to AiG’s curriculum.

Last year’s was “Ocean Commotion: Diving into the World of Noah’s Flood.” I volunteered, because I was new to this topic and was open to being molded. To no surprise, I was left greatly wanting. Not only was the argumentation childish (in both the sense of being brought down to the level of children and the sense of being really bad), the whole seemed to tie the gospel directly to one’s view of the flood. The biblical teaching as such was not bad, but the science was awful (“they use the fossils to date the rocks and the rocks to date the fossils” was oft repeated; “billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth” was put into song).

I’m feeling somewhat conflicted. I know that if I volunteer, I’ll enjoy it, have a good time, and all that. But I don’t know if I, in good conscience, can promote AiG to these kids. It’s so woefully imbalanced. This year’s topic isn’t quite so blatant as the flood one was, I think, but knowing AiG, it’ll contain the same shoddy argumentation and false dichotomies as the other. Any advice?


(George Brooks) #2

@AdCaelumEo,

I would find a nice Presbyterian congregation, and relax.

Use any form of transportation you get your hands on … and Go!
:helicopter: :station: :blue_car: :speedboat: :airplane: :rocket: :helicopter:


(Jay Nelsestuen) #3

Lol. I’m pretty much a Baptist, though I suppose a Presbyterian church wouldn’t make me all that uncomfortable.


(George Brooks) #4

I knew someone who became a member of the Assembly of God… in hopes that God would work a miracle to cure his homosexuality.

How did it work out? Terribly, of course. What’s more, he met another dozen Creationists who were “destroyed” by what they learned at Seminary … that Creationism and related ideas are built on foundations of sand.

One by one, they either quit seminary … or they quit the Assembly of God.

Presbyterians are cool. I don’t know where you are going to find any Baptist congregations that don’t bind to Noah’s Ark.


(Christy Hemphill) #5

Some of them don’t even make you baptize your babies these days. :wink:

Baptists are a very diverse bunch. So are AoG churches. So are Presbyterians, especially if you lump PCA, PCUSA, and EPC together.

OK, let’s not diverge into a big denomination evaluation and stereotyping discussion.

@AdCaelumEo Do you know what the theme this year is? Not all AIG VBSes are focused on creation science, some are just more general apologetics. Not that their approach to Scripture is what I would recommend for teaching kids, but my children did the Spy Academy one as part of a childcare thing for our Branch Conference (that kind of thing happens when you let church groups volunteer to run childcare). It was not awesome in my book, but it was something we could deal with. A lot of the stuff that was objectionable to me went right over their heads and they just focus on the crafts and games and whatnot.


(Jay Nelsestuen) #6

Evangelical non-denominational churches are basically baptist churches with coffee bars and cool websites. If the stats are right, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that’s opted for evolutionary creationism. Often, though, and this is what I fear, that shift on origins is accompanied by other, more “liberal,” changes. The authority of Scripture is compromised, homosexual marriage is celebrated, women are allowed into the pastorate, etc. I’m still a conservative’s conservative, but for my view on evolution.

That said, I don’t really want to change churches anyway. I’ve got a church here at home and a good one in California for when I’m at school. Both are YEC, but I’m trying not to make that a deal-breaker. It’s becoming more difficult, though, as I am starting to dislike Answers in Genesis to the point of boycotting it entirely. Hence, my predicament. If I don’t volunteer for VBS, it’ll be weird and folks will wonder why, too. Bleh.


(Jay Nelsestuen) #7

“Operation Arctic.” https://answersingenesis.org/vbs/2017/

It might not be all that bad. It has to do with the authority of the Bible and so forth. I’m just turned off by AiG in general anyway. Maybe I’m being over-dramatic.


(Steve Schaffner) #8

I find that highly offensive. I belong to an evangelical non-denominational church, and we don’t have a coffee bar and a cool website – we have a cafe and a cool website. Totally different beast.


(Phil) #9

Jay, I feel your pain, but things are changing in many Baptist churches. Children are concrete thinkers, and I do not have a problem with concrete representations and explanations on creation, though the things you mentioned with AIG’s curriculum seems grossly inappropriate for VBS, regardless. This year may not be as weird. In any case, focus on why you are doing VBS, which is the bring children to Christ, and show them love. That can be done regardless of curriculum by you working there

If you have any influence with the VBS leadership, you might suggest alternatives that are well regarded, the Lifeway alternatives are not bad, our church used Orange, and there are many others. I lose my wife to VBS for the next 3 weeks or so as she has been very involved in it since a teenager, including a stint as children’s minister.
http://orangevbs.com


(Christy Hemphill) #10

:slight_smile: My church is covert Baptist (it’s there in the fine print, but no one advertises it much) and we have a cafe with a fireplace. When that remodel was happening, it was enough to convince some people that the church had got way too liberal. They didn’t even stick around to learn about the travesties of fair trade coffee and the banishment of styrofoam cups.


(Christy Hemphill) #11

Could you volunteer for a part that isn’t a teaching part? Like supervising playground time? Or overseeing crafts, or snacks or first aid or something else that is more administrative than directly related to the program?


(Jay Nelsestuen) #12

Usually what I am is a crew leader. I could try to be something else, but I’d have to look.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #13

Travesty? Now I’m offended. “Fair trade” must be in my church’s doctrinal statements somewhere … now I’m going to have to go make sure, and raise a kerfuffle if I don’t find it.

Edit: Does anybody know what “Fair trade” is in King James language? My concordance isn’t giving me anything, and I’m sure Elijah or somebody was all over that. Didn’t it narrowly miss being part of the trinity in the New Testament?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #14

If you end up teaching (and why shouldn’t you … it’s a loss for them if you can’t --but totally understandable too if it must go that way), I would just have a couple questions at the ready that would spur those who want to dig deeper to look into things Scripturally or scientifically a bit more. Not “head-on challenge” questions, of course. But “what if” kinds that invite listeners to delve deeper.

My guess is that regarding Scriptural authority themes you are going to get a lot more of the false dichotomy stuff again. When it comes up, having just one or two “I wonder” comments might be enough to set some of your older charges thinking and perhaps come back to you at a later point with more conversation about it in a different setting where you can share more.


(Jay Nelsestuen) #15

(Just to clarify: crew leaders don’t normally teach the kids, they just sort of lead them around to the various stations.)


(George Brooks) #16

@Mervin_Bitikofer

“Fair Trade”?

Isn’t it somewhere in Psalms?

“I am - that I am - going to raise up the regular tenth to the Temple to the heights of Heaven, and the lands of Gog and Magog will be utterly bereft, until they come to the Temple in sack cloth and rope on their head, and with all the gold of their kingdom!”

Triva: King James actually uses the phrase “Rope on their Heads” - - when the fairly well known practice of a noose or so-called “halter” around the neck was meant. I think the Hebrew would be “loosely”: “rope [round] their heads” !


(Curtis Henderson) #17

I’m leaning toward agreement with @jpm here. I think it’s more important to serve and provide an environment for kids to be exposed to God’s Word and God’s love. And as a bonus, there shouldn’t even be anything dead wrong with the teaching this year! I’m not an AiG fan, but I think the “big picture” of VBS is still a very good picture.


(Jay Nelsestuen) #18

Thanks all for your help. :smiley:


(system) #19

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