Tuesday, January 22, 2008

VBS and Church

My sister-in-law's church held Vacation Bible School last June and she was in charge of refreshments. In the past, people brought brownies and stuff, and the adults stood around in the kitchen, talking and drinking coffee. When it was time, someone took the food to the classrooms.

This time, the kids came down to the kitchen to make their own snacks. The snacks corresponded to the lesson, so they were a teachable moment. The adults, however, were upset because they didn't get to continue their tradition of being together and drinking coffee in the kitchen. They had forgotten that VBS is supposed to be about ministering to the kids, not the desires of the adults.

I thought that is a perfect picture of many churches today. They continue in the same ways of "doing church" that they had in the middle of the last century. As the culture around them has changed, they have remained stuck in the past and either been unable or unwilling to change.

It's so easy for us to stick with what is comfortable, what has worked in the past. I have heard many times, "Why can't we just go back to what we did when the church was growing back in the 1980s?" The problem is that what worked in the past does not work today. Yes, there are pockets around the country where some of the old things work, but for the most part, it is a new world. What worked in a culture that had at least a memory of Christianity will not work in a culture that has no idea.

We need to fulfill Jesus' command to go out and make disciples in the twenty first century. To do this, we need ways that fit today, not yesterday. As missionaries study the culture they are going into, we need to study this culture and give the gospel in a way that is relevant.

Like the VBS adults, we need to remember that we are to be about ministering to others, not ensuring our comfort and benefit.

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