You Lost Me at “Totally True”: Some VBS Hand Wringing

My job at VBS this week is to tell kids some of the “amazing, incredible, and totally true adventures” found in the Bible.

Actually, I’m leaving off the “totally true” part. What better way to ruin an adventure than to insist on its veracity? I don’t believe all of the Bible to be “totally true,” at least not in the sense that this curriculum wants kids to understand that term. Besides, what does “totally true” mean to children who are being treated to dramatized gimmicks like trying to create an iPad out of thin air (you know, the same way God created the world)?

My little editorial decision points up a quandry: progressive churches that run this summer programming staple must either invest scads of time and energy writing their own curriculum or else purchase one from an evangelical publisher like Group or Lifeway or Standard that almost certainly will need to be edited for both theological and pedagogical reasons (see iPad example above).

Don’t even ask about the denominational curriculum.

My church has chosen the latter. There is real value in a themed package with a narrative arc that incorporates music, crafts, games, and Bible stories, even if we never buy any of the little trinkets that go with it. And we don’t take the thing so seriously as to lose sleep over things kids will hardly notice, especially if we take the little time required to adapt it.

But we do wonder about alternatives. There’s a church nearby that runs a Peace Camp for kids in the summer, which they state clearly is not VBS. I’m intrigued.

Does your church do VBS? How are you negotiating the theology of most VBS curricula with your church’s posture?

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