I am always interested to hear the child’s view of Vacation Bible School. The child, after all, is the one who all the effort is primarily for.
Just the other day, I came across a very interesting post, called “An Introvert’s Internal Dialogue at VBS”. I must say, I found the post quite funny as I can personally relate to the introvert’s frustrations that were presented: wanting to enjoy an event, yet feeling unsure about all the unfamiliar environment; hoping to come across as friendly, yet not really knowing how to interact; wishing to show interest, yet not finding the words to share.
People who know me very well at all can attest to the fact that I tend to be on the reserved side. I have learned that I must continually lean on the Lord to give courage to my cautious nature. I have also learned that He will give me power to reach out!
Aubrygrace, the author of An Introvert’s Internal Dialogue at VBS*, seems to have a gift for presenting information in a thought-provoking way that engages her readers. Reading Aubrygrace’s post really got me thinking.
*Note: As of May 2014, Aubrygrace’s website, unfortunately, appears to no longer exist.
Vacation Bible School for any personality
I began thinking of some of the children I have shared a Vacation Bible School experience with. Certainly, there are many personalities represented. I honestly believe, though, that with experience, careful planning, and sensitivity, it is possible to have a Vacation Bible School where any type of personality can feel comfortable.
First and foremost, as Vacation Bible School leaders and teachers we must be connected and open to the Holy Spirit’s direction. While we cannot possibly know all the struggles and desires of the children’s hearts, He does, and He will teach us to interact with all kinds of personalities, one moment at a time.
The schedule matters
Careful planning of our Vacation Bible School schedule is important, too. One of the first things I did as a new Vacation Bible School leader years ago was to reconstruct the schedule. I saw many places where we could gain both minutes and sanity by simply rearranging the order of activities to limit harsh transitions.
You may evaluate your own church’s Vacation Bible School schedule, looking for times when an activity seems to always be rushed to a close or, conversely, when the children end up waiting around for the clock.
Similarly, as much as possible, when planning Vacation Bible School’s specific activities, try to make sure that each part is a contribution to the whole. Know your theme–your purpose–and reinforce that one point in everything.
One of the points mentioned by Aubrygrace in her post is the difficulty of the introvert in dealing with an onslaught of “high-energy activities”. It is important to balance the quiet times with the very active times in the day at Vacation Bible School.
An environment for learning
Personally, I believe that the quieter times should dominate–and not just because it suits my personality. In order for children to learn well, they cannot be physically “amped up”, so to speak–that is, they cannot be overly excited. Fresh air and sunshine are important to help get their blood circulating. This helps the children to be awake and alert, which makes thinking and processing new information much easier.
However, if the children are pushed into a state of silliness and lack of control, they are no longer thinking clearly; rather, they have begun acting from impulse. To follow Jesus is a vital decision that we hope all of the children will make at Vacation Bible School. The children deserve to know that following Jesus is not all fun and games–but it is all peace and joy!
In our church (and our family), we worship a bit differently than many do. We encourage reverent joy; we encourage the children to be children controlled by a Heavenly spirit. We sing cheerful songs. We incorporate some marching and some hand motions, but we leave out the wild dancing and yelling. We encourage singing with a strong voice, honoring God, but we discourage trying to be the “loudest”.
The importance of a friend
One final point I would like to mention is the fact that making new friends, while perhaps profitable, can be very intimidating to the introvert. It is probably safe to say that many children have thought about attending a local Vacation Bible School, but decided not to, simply for fear of not knowing anybody there.
How important then that we make a point both of inviting children that we know or come in contact with, and of encouraging children and other teachers at Vacation Bible School to do the same. That one familiar, friendly face may make all the difference in eternity.
Children deserve the best Heaven has to offer, for Jesus Christ died so that they might have it. All children deserve to be comfortable in His presence, free from the guilt of sin. They deserve to know that God made them, personality and all, and that He will use them in a special work to bring others to Him.
Yes, we all will have challenges to face because of our personalities, but our differences are part of what makes it so fun to be around each other. Vacation Bible School is a great place to learn to appreciate each other and work together for the most worthwhile goal ever–eternity with our Best Friend, Jesus, starting even today!
Thank you, Aubrygrace, for your insightful post!
What does your church do to help children of all personalities feel comfortable at Vacation Bible School?
How can we encourage our friends and neighbors to attend Vacation Bible School (or other outreach programs) with us?