VBS vs. The Local Church

I recently opened my front door to find a flyer from one of the local churches advertising their upcoming VBS (Vacation Bible School). I quickly dismissed the brochure and continued on my task of mowing the lawn. While I cut grass, I thought more about this practice of inviting the community to your church’s VBS and whether or not I, as a father, should support sending my children to one of these.

Of course, the answer to the last question is no. I have no desire to send my children to another church for their Bible teaching. But why?

The church I previously attended did have VBS, and my family heartily endorsed and supported that event every year. So one might think that it’s not the idea of VBS that I have a problem with; it’s just anyone else’s VBS is not up to par. However, I don’t think that is it either.

The issue is one of Ecclesiology or Church Membership… and also of Catechism.

If I were to send my children off to another church for instruction in Christian teaching (a fun week of VBS), I would inadvertently be catechizing them (teaching them) another lesson. I would be teaching them that an a la carte view of Church membership is normal and good.

An a la carte view believes that it is perfectly fine and good to get your sermons from one source, your children’s sermons from yet another, and any “services” that are missing from your local church body may be outsourced to the nearest box store mega-church.

I have had actual conversations with real people who imbibed this belief. They asked why we needed to go to an actual church building when all they did was listen to the sermon and then leave. They could do that online. Then they could have fellowship with their friends down at the nearest sports bar. And after all, they could all shepherd one another just as well as elders.

Let me just say… wrong!

We are called to be part of Christ’s Body. You may think that this merely means to be part of the Church universal, not necessarily the church visible. That sort of thinking leads to all kinds of problems and confusion. Do you mean all Christians who believe in the Trinity? Or all Christians who merely profess they believe in Jesus? The Mormons believe in Jesus. So do the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A belief in this minimal level of mere Christianity will lead to union with darkness and accepting false teachers as brothers. And if you are the sort of Christian who is OK with this state of affairs, then I suspect you are also OK with female “preachers,” LGBTQ+ “Christians,” and the woke agenda that says my original sin is that of my white maleness more than my being in Adam.

Instead, I want my children to grow up being fiercely loyal to our local church. They should know and understand that we are to submit to our elders because they are responsible for the care of our souls (Hebrews 13:17 ). This submission includes understanding that whatever “services” are not available at our local church is deemed by our elders as unnecessary. My children should grow up learning that this body of believers, with these names and faces, with this unique set of problems and sins, with this unique set of gifts from the Holy Spirit, is the body of Christ to them.

Teach your children to serve and be served in their local church.

All the Caveats

Since this isn’t “No Quarter November,” I would like to say that, of course, there are caveats.

I have no problem with the concept of VBS. In fact, I’m even willing to concede that for many churches it is a great outreach to bring lost children and their lost families into an environment that will expose them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which has the power of salvation (Romans 1:16). In fact, if your church has a VBS then I think you should support that effort as much as possible.

I also don’t want to disparage valid para-church organizations, of which there are many. They often provide extremely valuable services that are a blessing to local churches. I think it is wise that the elders of your church are aware of these and are offering wisdom as to their utilization.

Cover Image by Cary Nagler from Pixabay