Sunday, August 26, 2007

10-Minute VBS in the Park

Many of the people who heard the open-air preaching in the park last night were children. Unlike many VBS efforts, this did not cost me or my church a penny. I didn't have to purchase a kit that focused more on entertaining children than making sure they understood the Law and the Gospel. It didn't take weeks of planning and a staff of dozens of volunteers. It didn't take 5 days to conduct. It was simply 10 minutes of presenting the Law and the Gospel in the park. And, unlike many VBS programs in which parents drop off their children at church, this 10-minute VBS in the park afforded me the opportunity to present the Law and the Gospel to parents, too.

This is not an indictment of all VBS efforts. But might there be a more effective way to share the biblical gospel with children and their parents?

Listen to my conversation with Gracie (11) and Destiny (9). Surrounding them is a small crowd of children. All heard the proclamation of the Law and the Gospel.

Please pray for Gracie, Destiny, and everyone else who heard the Law and the Gospel in the park.


Anonymous said...

Your presentation to the children is wonderful. You held their attention, you got them involved, you presented the pertinent facts, and you obviously made them think. I praise the Lord for those efforts and that specific conversation, and I'm sure our Lord is pleased.

One thing I'd change: Your introduction is saturated with not-so-subtle disdain and unnecessary sarcasm toward VBS efforts, in stark contrast to your disclaimer statement.

Our small crew rejoiced in the fact that 7 of "our" kids made professions of faith this past Summer... Wouldn't our Lord be pleased in that, also?

Tony Miano said...

Sorry, Anonymous, that you were offended by the introduction. The point I was making is that there is a simpler way to present the gospel to children: simply share the gospel with them.

While I rejoice with you that children came to faith in Christ during your VBS (and, of course, the Lord is pleased if children came to genuine repentance and faith), the reality is that many VBS-type programs do not present a biblical gospel and are decision driven. Meaning: at the end of the VBS children are often encouraged to pray a prayer and ask Jesus into their heart (something the Bible does not teach). They are sometimes told that they have a God-shaped hole in their heart that only Jesus can fill (something else the Bible doesn't teach). They are encouraged to raise their hand if they want to know Jesus. So, they raise their hand, whether or not they truly understand repentance and faith, because other children are raising their hands, and the church counts them as conversions.

I harbor no ill-will or disdain toward any biblical presentation of the Law and the Gospel--whether it comes by way of open-air preaching, one-to-one conversations, or a VBS program. If you church is presenting the biblical gospel to children by way of VBS, and your church has the resources and volunteers to put on such a program, then I applaud your efforts. :-)

Part of what motivated my introduction was this. I know of church's that have discontinued their VBS programs because they cannot get enough volunteers to work VBS. The programs become so labor-intensive and time consuming that church's stop doing them. So, my suggestion for those churches would be to simply go to the parks in the area, where children (and their parents) congregate, and share the gospel with them. You can reach as many (if not more) unchurched, unsaved childred with the gospel, without needing a line item on the church's budget.

Thanks for sharing your comments. :-)