Up post. Three pastors were a part of this roundtable discussion about their thoughts on Pastor Rhea’s article as well as their perspectives on VBS.
We started by asking, Do you think we should teach giving during VBS? Here are a few of the replies to this question pastors gave us.
Greg Fine of 1st Higginsville said, “I thought giving was already woven into the fabric of VBS. We have always promoted an offering during VBS that went to some special needs. It provides the opportunity to promote generosity even among the children and helps them focus on others. Sometimes we have also collected school supplies for the fall or items for a local food pantry or women’s shelter or the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. There are numerous ways to teach giving and not all of them must be a cash offering.”
Dennis Gard of Central Eureka said, “I like the idea. I think we need to teach our children all areas of scripture and Christian principles. Giving is one of those principles. If we do not teach children to be givers, they will not understand its importance.”
Brad Delaughter of First Desoto made this comment, “Yes. We should teach giving during VBS because giving and stewardship are part of the life of a healthy disciple. We teach what we value and if we truly value giving as a spiritual discipline that both leads to spiritual maturity and is evidence of spiritual maturity, we should teach giving/generosity at the earliest levels. One of the pedagogical principles in education is modeling. If we model for our children the generosity of God, they will not only see it, or hear it, but experience it. Building principles of giving into VBS is easy and fun. Building principles into VBS is also in line with the purpose of VBS. VBS is designed to help make and build strong disciples of Jesus. Part of the life of a healthy disciple is stewardship and generosity. When we teach generosity in VBS we are teaching biblical discipleship principles.”
What were your thoughts about the article Richie Rhea wrote on VBS?
Dennis Gard said, “I agree with some of his points. We encourage giving by having the kids bring money to support the mission efforts at our church. We make it a competition between the girls and boys. Typically, the gender who collects the most money (by weight) gets to throw a pie, spray a worker with water, or some other crazy form of celebration. Our hope is to show the kids how God can use their gifts to bless others. The mission money is then given to needy children at Christmas time, and the kids who attend our church get to help make the care packages. This gives us another opportunity to demonstrate what their gifts are used for, and another opportunity to demonstrate the importance of giving.”
Gard made this comment about manipulation, “If making the giving a competition is a “cheap manipulation trick” then I don’t fully agree with his observation. I think celebrating the gift and having additional opportunities to demonstrate ministry is just as important as encouraging giving. If the kids don’t see it as fun, then they may not see results.”
Brad Delaughter had a good view of Rhea’s warnings about manipulation by saying, “There is no reason to use manipulative tricks. Honestly, though, this will be more subjective to each person and church. What is a “trick” to one church may be a fun way to encourage giving to a missions project to another. Be intelligent and wise. Use reasons that will help build a desire and rationale for lifelong giving and not just a gimmick for one-time investments.”
Greg Fine said, “I enjoyed the article and would agree with the points made by Richie. I do believe children need to learn generosity for that is the nature of God and His love for us. I would admit that I need to be more intentional to help children connect the dots of our giving to God’s generous nature. I am guilty of promoting the offering to meet a specific need without painting the bigger picture of generosity. The article has challenged me to think through that aspect of our VBS Rally more carefully.”
Finally, please give us a couple of sentences on whatever you might feel is important to other pastors about VBS? What are you trying that is new? What are you changing? Etc.
Greg Fine commented, “We conducted VBS last year but to much smaller numbers. We are praying that we will see more children respond this summer to our VBS. We aren’t making dramatic changes but returning to what we have done in the past (no masks) and seeking to engage relationally with children and families through our VBS outreach. VBS is still one of the most effective outreach events for the church. One thing we have done in the past that has been well received is hosting a Pool Party at our Community Pool the Sunday night after VBS. Families have turned out better for that end of VBS event than our Family Night on Friday night.”
Dennis Gard said, “We run a fairly traditional VBS. I believe VBS is an opportunity to show kids that God is fun. So often church can appear stuffy or boring, but VBS is an opportunity to learn about God and have fun doing it. If giving to God is exciting, it might help church be exciting. We can share the gospel and have joy in our hearts while we do it every week.”
Brad Delaughter summarized many of the views expressed by pastors by saying, “If a church does not desire to support VBS through giving there are some deeper issues at the church than a lack of a desire to support VBS. For most churches, VBS is the single largest community outreach, event, and/or children’s program they have. We can do a better job of utilizing VBS for its intended purpose. I want to encourage you to think not just of the hectic week of VBS, but think of three months past VBS. One of the things I encourage our staff to do for any event is to think three months past the event. What will we invite the VBS parents and children to next? How can we use this event to connect with the people who are not connected to the church? How can we use this event to disciple now and past this event those who are members of the church? How can we use this event to discover the needs of our community? Begin to think about events past the event and you will begin to plan differently and think more strategically.”
Thanks, pastors for taking the time to share your thoughts on VBS. Would you like to participate in our next Missouri Pastors Speak Up series? We would love to hear from you and put you on our list. Your views and opinions are valuable to your fellow pastors and us. Reach out to Rob Phillips at email@example.com.