To VBS and beyond!

Dear VBS Voyagers:

2019 Vacation Bible School (VBS) is now in the congregational rear view mirror. Once the songs are out of our heads and we’ve cleared up the glitter and glue from Fellowship Hall, we will start thinking about children’s programming for next summer; but before we pull forward to the TUXIS mission trip and Vacation Cross Trainers (VCT) coming up next month, I think it would be useful to muse over the experience. By the numbers, we were able to provide VBS without charge. Participant families were invited to contribute in any amount through the online registration process, and most did, but the bulk of the expenses were covered by generous VBS-designated gifts from FPCLG members.

Child participation was ‘off’ in 2019 when compared to previous years. There are lots of theories as to why attendance decreased: timing, reduction of days, synchronization with other children's programs, cultural shifts, sunspot activity... all we know for sure is that we had about 10 fewer kids for the same age group when compared to 2018. On the other hand, volunteer participation remained robust, with FPCLG members providing more than enough coverage for games, crafts, stories, movie time, daily registration, opening and closing exercises. A special shout-out to Abbey, Jovanis and Riley for their skits, music leadership and choreography. Thanks to Sally Powers, this year we offered VBS to preschoolers who participated in opening and closing assemblies but had their own small-fry program in Westminster Hall.

As for the themes and curriculum, the children (including me) seemed to enjoy the space theme and the power words—FAITH, BOLDNESS, KINDNESS, THANKFULNESS and HOPE—which seem to be retained by the children beyond Thursday’s hot dogs. I think children’s Christian education is a cumulative experience. Exposed again to the themes and stories through multiple encounters, we build our understanding of content and application over time. It's always my prayer that these little planted seeds are nourished by God’s Spirit into other experiences as young faith blossoms into adult faithfulness.

I remember one of my counseling center clients who, as a little girl, suffered great brutality at the hands of abusive parents. When she recounted the horrors of her childhood home, I asked her how she survived. She told me about an elderly couple that lived catty-corner through her backyard. The husband was a retired Lutheran pastor, and every summer they held a neighborhood VBS program in their yard. They hosted games, snacks, Bible stories and songs two weeks each summer. Because she lived so close, even after the program was over, she could go to their home, eat freshly baked cookies and relax. She told me those little encounters taught her that not every home was cruel; it gave her hope. She was little, and they were kind; that’s all she had to hang on through the dark years.

An extreme case, I know. We do not have the privilege to reveal what impact we make for the future. I only know that in a sometimes harsh, critical and callous world, some songs, Bible stories, simple crafts and snacks can make a world of difference. God calls us as adults to live before our children and community with faith, boldness, kindness, thankfulness and hope.

To Mars and beyond, I remain,

With Love,
Jonathan Krogh
Your Pastor