VBS thoughts on competition

Overall, we had a successful VBS this year: 4 teens saved and 3 other children received reassurance of their salvation. So Praise Our Heavenly Father!!!

Vacation Bible School is a mixed bag of thoughts and emotions. On one hand it is an opportunity to share Jesus with children that may not have heard a clear presentation of the Gospel & an opportunity to encourage christian children to witness and show them how to be a witness for Christ. Then there is the other side of VBS: the hoards of children, some of them unruly; the long hours after an already full day; the noise, oh the incessant chatter; and the picking on each other (the children, not the teachers haha). But the one thing that I get hung up on every year is the competition. Boys against Girls. And the Noise that comes with that! Aye! The children are excited, bouncing in their seats yelling the appropriate responses, “who’s going to win tonite’s penny offering?” “Giiiiiiirrrrrrrrls!” “Booooooooooyyyyyyyys” And the kids go wild!!! You can’t help but smile at their enthusiasm; but you can’t help but notice the looks of unbelief on the ‘other side’ yep, the losers, the looks of defeat, the looks of jealousy. Hmmm….makes me think. Now I am not of the ‘lets not keep score so no one is offended’ crowd. If one team plays better ball than the other, guess what? They win! But, why are we setting these children up in this situation? It is not just the competition with the penny offering (which in itself is a good thing….all the ‘pennies’ go to one of our missionaries and it is usually $1000-1500…a blessing to the missionary, no doubt), it is competition with everything we do with the children except games, crafts, and snacks. Points are awarded for each memory verse recited, attendance, bringing a visitor, bringing your bible and a few other events. Points are tallied and prizes/accolades are doled out accordingly. Because THE POINTS determine who wins daily and for the entire week, THE POINTS become paramount….not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where is the line between creating fun and excitement for the kids without putting too much emphasis on the POINTS. I dunno. Some teachers emphasize memory verse recitation for comprehension & precision…quality. Some teachers emphasize the quantity of memory verses because that is how the children can rack up points. I think that is wrong and treating the Scripture superficially. We had children that recited 10-15 verses a night! A night! I can’t even think how the teachers had this much time to devote to one child. I obviously have some teaching techniques to learn.

If the points/competitions are eliminated, do the children still come? Do they come but are bored and apathetic? If some points are eliminated….which ones? If it is just a competition with the penny offering…then does it appear that VBS is all about the money?

So there is my rant on VBS POINTS. What is your ‘point’ of view, your insight, your experience?

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5 Responses to VBS thoughts on competition

  1. Tresses says:

    Good points, Sheri. (Pun intended. :p ) Our VBS has a point system, also. Each of the kids is assigned to one of three teams when they register. They earn points for everything from helping at home/in the community/at VBS to Scripture memory and knowing the anwers to questions, etc. The competition is strong, but not fierce. Our offering is taken separately during the night and has nothing to do with points. At the end of the week, everybody gets a goody bag, but the gifts differ depending on whether your team came in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Then we give extra prizes to the 3 kids with the highest scores of the week.

    All that said, here’s my take on it: The points are a means to an end. Kids thrive on competition. Granted, you have to take some care as to how you manage the competition, but look at the outcome: A bunch of kids left VBS knowing Scripture they didn’t know before. The points motivated them, but the verses plant seeds that they would not have taken the time to plant otherwise. God’s Word will not return void.

    I see VBS as a fun time. The kids have a blast while they learn the Gospel, sing songs, play games, make crafts, etc. They soak up so much more than we realize. I can’t remember what I had for lunch last week, but I can tell you the songs I learned in grade school. 🙂

    My 2 cents. 😉

  2. I don’t like that part of competition either, however, I also think that it is part of what keeps them coming back~~the unchurched ones I mean~~.

    I also think that the leadership can tone it down….keep the competition…but tone it down to where it isn’t AS big of a deal.

  3. Elaine says:

    I haven’t been a part of a VBS in a few years so my thoughts aren’t very current.

    I’ve struggled with the same thing for a long time. Recently a young lady in our youth group shared something with me. This deals w/SS not VBS but I think it correlates. I taught this girl in nursery, kindergarten and 1-2 grades. In K I began keeping a treasure box w/little things that I thought the kids would like. Each unit/month they would have a memory verse to learn. My rule was that if they could learn it and say it to me (as they grew and learned my standards increased 😉 ) then they could get a prize from the box.

    Well this young lady told me that she still has many of those items (nail polishes and crocheted scrunchies) and that she still knows those verses. She told me that I had given her reason to memorize and the verses have come in handy as she’s entered high school. She might not have learned them if I had given her insentive.

    I would encourage you to look at this as planting seeds. You may have to wait until heaven to find out what the kids do with what you taught them but I think you’ll be surprised at the seeds sown. 🙂

    Keep the Faith. God will use all that we do to His Glory.

  4. Sheri says:

    I suppose I will always have an issue with points and like all my ‘issues’ take them to the Lord and leave them there. Right? Right.

    I just asked my boys if they remembered any of their verses. They recited the theme verse, 2 of the daily verses, and an extra verse. Not too bad, since it has been 4 days since we’ve even looked at those verses.

    Hidden in their hearts.

  5. Tresses says:

    Not bad at all, Sheri. :thumbsup:

    I have one more thought. Is there any chance that the “losers” wouldn’t take their loss quite so personally if the teams weren’t determined by gender? Maybe I’m psychoanalyzing this too much, but maybe if they were divided into two teams, Red and Blue (feel free to be more creative, but you get my point 🙂 ) they might not feel like the loss is somehow related to their personal identity?

    Thus ends Beth’s touchy-feely moment for the day. 😉

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