Vacation Bible school: is it a Biblical ministry model?

Discussion in 'Worship' started by Tim, Jun 20, 2011.

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  1. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Is vacation Bible school a Biblical model for ministry?
  2. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    If by "Biblical model" you mean supported by sound exegesis, then the answer would be No.*
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

  4. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    What do you mean by "a Biblical model for ministry"?
  5. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    I think VBS can be a good thing if you take the time to actually teach the kids something. Sometimes the cirriculum used, especially if it is from Lifeway, is very light on doctrine. Other cirriculum is better, especially the Answers in Genesis stuff. The only problem I have ever had with VBS was at one church where they gave all the kids cards to fill out that asked if they had received Christ into their hearts that week. At the end of the week, it was announced that something like 200 kids have been saved, based on a check mark on a card. Ridiculous.
  6. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    What in the world does this mean?
  7. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    No. There is no biblical example of any type of ministry like this. Usually, what I have found is that VBS is an opportunity for people who shouldn't be teaching to teach and also for regulations regarding worship to be ignored.
  8. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I think I need to clarify my OP.

    I know these are Biblical models of ministry because we are given Biblical example:

    1. Lord's Day services, lead by an ordained minister of the Word. The means of grace are provided to the people, and there is no age segregation.

    2. Discipleship in the family, taking place as daily family worship, lead by the father.

    In contrast, when I think of a "vacation Bible school", I often think of a week of morning activities, including Biblical teaching time, games, crafts, etc. It is not necessarily lead by a minister of the Word, and is often seen as a way to disciple children who don't attend Sabbath worship with the rest of the congregation. Please comment if you disagree with my description.

    What I am trying to consider is that although there is no Biblical example of ministry being conducted in this way, none of those activities mentioned above are unlawful, so I am unsure how to consider them. It seems to me that Bible gives examples of how ministry is "supposed to look" and that by following these examples (i.e., #1 and #2), we make use of the means that God has ordained to bring the lost to Himself, and disciple his sheep.
  9. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    VBS, like anything else the church does, can be done really well or very poorly.

    I see no problem with a church that hosts a well-structured, Christ-centered VBS. Just like I see no problem with a church that hosts a well-structured, Christ-centered Wednesday night program for its congregation.

    Actually, I think it is beneficial for a church to do such things.

    ---------- Post added at 08:48 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:39 AM ----------

    If you are arguing that the church should only be involved with ministries that are explicitly prescribed in the Bible, then VBS is just one of many examples where you'll find disagreement. Such as Sunday School, a weekday morning prayer group, a ladies' bible study, etc.
  10. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would also add the translation of the Bible into foreign languages. We do not see that in Scripture either. Obviously this ministry is necessary.
  11. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Freshman

    I more or less think back to the Pharisees pulling their donkeys out of the pits on the Sabbath--if it does genuine spiritual good, why not? It's no replacement for the primary means, and should never be, but nevertheless it's an evangelistic opportunity.
  12. but3leftsdo

    but3leftsdo Puritan Board Freshman

    My thoughts exactly. When we get nit-picky about things like this, whether or not we find the model in scripture, etc..., we risk being stodgy and legalistic to the detriment of these children. We need to remind ourselves of the target audience; no one expects them to receive a seminary degree in one week. Who can gripe if the kids are being fed sound doctrine? For many of them this is the most Bible they get all year.
  13. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm with Tim. My experience with VBS has generally been have a bunch of games for kids, show them some videos, give them snacks and teach them a bible story. Also it seems like churches do this less for the kids and more to get their name out there. For example, I usually see VBS put on to invite neighborhood kids to the church; it's not necessarily for the children from the church. Is the thinking that if the neighborhood kids have fun for a week, then their parents will start coming to the church?
  14. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Okay, let's slow down a bit. You have mentioned a number of activities that can be done correctly, in my opinion. What I am trying to do is investigate whether the description of a common vacation Bible school includes content and practice that potentially make it depart from a Biblical model.

    With respect, we do see this exact thing in scripture when the Septuagint is quoted in the NT.

    Sorry, guys. I am not trying to dismiss your replies, but I think some of what has been written is simplistic. The issue is not just about sound doctrine, but the manner in which things are being delivered. For example, a woman teaching sound doctrine to men is not allowed.

    Please, let us interact with the description I provided about VBS and why it may or may not be Biblical.
  15. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I forgot about the Septuagint and it being quoted.
  16. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    No problem, brother. :D
  17. black_rose

    black_rose Puritan Board Freshman

    I have been attending a Baptist Church my whole life, and I have thus taken a part in VBS in some way, shape, or form my whole life. At this point, I've been helping out with VBS for about 6 years. I've been a "go-for", an assistant teacher (didn't really teach, just helped make sure the kids behaved and such) and, this year, I got my first teaching job as Worship Rally leader and Music teacher. I hadn't really thought about how un-sound some of the doctrine really was until this year because I'm so new to Reformed theology and this is the first year of VBS I've attended since I became Reformed.
    My friend Weston (who is a member here and who introduced me to Reformed Theology) attended as a helper for the last three days at VBS at my church. As a tradition, of sorts, on the "ABC" day of the VBS week (Wednesday) we get our pastor to teach the children about Salvation and its importance. Weston was practically cringing when our interim pastor presented them with the "gospel" that day, and I was a little too.
    Also, all the teachers we use in the classrooms are people who have actually taught classes like Sunday School and such and, being a very small church, I've had nearly every one of them as my teacher at some point.
    Being Baptists, no, they are not always doctrinally sound. And, as I said before, neither is the interim-pastor.
    Also, not all the material is completely doctrinally sound either. Weston was analyzing each song to see how sound it was, and only one song, at just one place, did he refuse to sign or do the motions because of the line "I will lay down my life for the gospel of Christ to a world that needs to know what they're worth." He believed the underlned part of that gave the wrong implications.
    All of that said and done, VBS isn't the greatest tool to use, no. (This whole thing is Lifeway's VBS, btw.) If you have the right teachers teaching sound doctrine, and pastors who preach sound doctrine, it can be a better tool, but it is still not the best tool, nor a great one.

    (sorry if I ranted far too much. ^.^')
  18. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    I don't understand how the activities I mentioned differ from VBS. Are you saying it is not possible for VBS to be done correctly?

    I can't speak for what the "common" VBS includes, because I only have first-hand knowledge of the one my church hosts. There's nothing unbiblical about it.

    ---------- Post added at 10:12 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:06 AM ----------

    The only VBS I'm familiar with includes some of what you mentioned. There is teaching, singing, games, and crafts. Most of the children attending are from our own church, though there are some visitors as well.

    I don't see how any of this is unbiblical.
  19. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I can't speak for all of the hype and nonsense that may accompany some VBS programs, but consider the following:

    1) A bunch of people from near by (or even a small distance) show up.
    2) Some divine truth is taught.
    3) A light meal is served.

    This rough model appears in John 6. Now we can argue until the cows come home about some of the smaller details and who does or oversees the teachings. I prefer qualified men doing the teaching and entertainment being kept to a bare minimum. I also prefer the event held outside or not in the normal Sunday meeting area and arrangement, so there is no confusion made about what is expected of people when they gather for worship on the Lord's Day. :2cents:
  20. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Daniel, do you consider games and crafts to be a Biblically valid form of ministry?
  21. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I believe there is biblical warrant for teaching the congregation on days other than the Lord's day; however, I have never seen VBS accomplish this. This is what is familiar to my experience: Bad VBS Theme Idea - The Sacred Sandwich
  22. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior


    I know, I know...I'm pretty worldly. I'm one of those who thinks it's fine and good for children to have some fun at church.

    But I'm more than happy to change my stance if you can show me anything in Scripture that even hints that it might be wrong for children to have fun at the church's property on a Monday morning.
  23. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am not the biggest fan of VBS, but I can't deny that God's word is taught to the children during the week.
  24. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I am not saying you are worldly, brother, nor am I suggesting that is wrong to have fun on church property. Please remember that this was not my original question. My question was whether it should be considered ministry.
  25. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    Absolutely. Ministry does not have to be absent of fun.
    Community groups can be a great form of ministry, and that can include a time of eating and casual conversation. Fun for adults.

    Now if a particular VBS is all fun and games, well, that's another story.
  26. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Admittedly my experience is limited to the Southern Baptist church I was raised in. Like Shannon, I helped out in VBS for several years. The link I provided is so dead on, it is not even funny.
  27. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    All right, then. I think it is a fair at this point to pose the question: what is your Biblical warrant for making the statement that ministry per se may include games and crafts.
  28. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    We have the RPW, not the RPM. I believe that ministry can and should be creative.

    If you do not think that VBS should be considered as ministry, at least consider it an act of charity. Many parents are given a few hours to just relax without their kids pulling them in a hundred directions. Think of VBS as Mother's Day Out for school aged kids.
  29. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    My biblical warrant is the lack of a detailed prescription of how ministry must be done.

    Now that doesn't mean that we are free to do whatever we want, however we want. Wisdom and discretion is necessary.

    Our church has decided that a well-structured, Christ-centered VBS is an appropriate form of ministry. Likewise, we have decided that it is appropriate for our youth to go on annual retreats that combine fun group activities with biblical teaching and devotion.
  30. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    The Biblical warrant would be that there is no Regulative Principle of Ministry and that you are unBiblically (and without any warrant) binding the conscience of the Christian and the Church. Unless you can find a warrant for what actions‚Äč the Church may take or not from Scripture and Church history, your founding premise is found lacking.
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