When I was a kid, VBS was magical. There was a big room with story sets all round and each day a bible character would come and tell their story. My imagination came alive! It was so real! The lion from Daniel in the lion’s den TALKED to us! And the music! The songs were so much fun. Each year had a theme. Sometimes we made up dances to them and people in the congregation played instruments. We used shakers and waved ribbons. It was really a time when I felt I could be creative and free and the whole community was involved.
The VBS I recently helped at also had a lot of people involved in a community. But, at the same time it was much more packaged. In particular, my problem was with the singing time. When it was time to sing a song the screen would come down and display a music video of very fashionable kids doing a choreographed dance and singing. Kids either sat and watched or imitated what was happening on the screen. Basically it is what I am calling VBS much music.
My concern is this: kids are going to do this anyways. They will get to the age where they are going to watch music videos passively on the couch, or try and dress like the actors and imitate their dance moves. Why are we getting YOUNGER children to do the same thing in church?
Singing as a community is very different: it invites participation and ownership in several ways. Kids can help in the leadership and use their creative skills. They build relationships with the adults who are teaching and facilitating the creative process. The result is a totally different message. I expect children’s programing at church to be counter-cultural, otherwise we can just turn on the TV at home.