It is VBS* (Vacation Bible School) season & I am gearing up to craft with young children in a few weeks. I love to craft. And I thought this would be a good place to spend my time & energy, especially if our kids will be there all week.
But I am also reminded of last year’s VBS season. As I mentioned before, our church as we knew it was falling apart. We were on a search for a new church. So, we signed Logan up for 2 weeks of VBS at 2 different churches. We knew he was a challenge. Who would be able to support him? AND us?
We had been attending services at a nearby church for a few weeks. The building was new, the music was good, the congregation was full & people were friendly. But I knew on several levels, this would not be the church for us.
#1. Many ladies wore long skirts and bonnets. They were lovely and I do agree that it’s respectful to dress up for church, but my God takes me as I am, and I don’t wear bonnets.
#2. Many of the children dutifully sat with their parents, quiet as little mice. Awesome! I wish my kids could do that. Mine can’t. You can judge my parenting skills, but I think God takes them as they are too.
#3. They lost my child in the nursery. He wasn’t actually missing. He was “hiding.” But they didn’t know it, and when I came to pick him up, he was no where to be found (hmmm…I guess he CAN be quiet).
#4. But the final indicator was VBS week. By day 3, they had called me to come and get Logan. They could not manage his behavior. I had to leave my full grocery cart at the market, with tears in my eyes, to pick up my son. Now, in their defense, I did tell them they could call me if there was any trouble and I would be happy to pick him up. Except, when I got there, they had sent me home with the walking papers…his name tag, his crafts…it was clear that I shouldn’t bring him back.
Now, I don’t tell you this so that you will feel sorry for me, or Logan. We are Christians. Our faith has not been shattered because of this incident. But what if we WEREN’T Christians? What message does that send if ALL children (all people) are not welcome in church?
Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
At the time, I did not know Logan had a Sensory Processing Disorder. I didn’t have all of the information I have now. I did my best to offer advice to the people who would be caring for him, but to be honest, I couldn’t manage him all the time either.
Afterward, I called the second church. I explained my situation to an understanding woman over the phone and asked if they would accept us. I mentioned I would do whatever it took to make this a positive experience, even if it meant I had to hold his hand myself. She assured me they would never ask a child to leave the church. I have come to realize that this church accepts people as they are. And we have been attending this church ever since.
My point, friends, is this: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you’re a VBS volunteer this summer, please have compassion for the kids who might take a little extra effort. My advice would be to have extra volunteers on hand, in case you encounter a kid who might need some individual attention. Don’t be afraid to modify your plans, if you see a kid who has more difficulty “going with the flow.” The reality is, as a VBS volunteer, you have one week to really make an impact on a child’s life. What kind of impact do YOU want to make?
*Many churches host a week long summer program called VBS. It is geared toward elementary aged children, where they learn about God through Bible stories, crafts & songs. Many of them are free, but some may charge a small fee.