Summer is here that means that everyone is advertising their church’s Vacation Bible School. I have never liked VBS, even as a kid growing up. I always felt like it was too cheesy. It was the same stories, year after year. Or at least, that’s what it seemed like to me. The VBS curriculum has changed a lot over the years but has it gotten better?
What occurred to me as I was thinking about this is that the authors of the VBS curriculum probably create their material to appeal to those children who do not attend church regularly, so they make it as simple as possible. But, I think that does a disservice to the children who attend church on a regular basis. They’re getting the same watered down, milky lessons they have heard over and over and over again.
We have seen a trend in American education that has a lot of people upset and concerned and that is how the educational system has restructured how children learn and now we’re dealing with schools that are dumbing down its students because they don’t want to make those who don’t learn as quickly as others feel like they’re stupid. So, instead of the teachers working to pull those students up and encouraging them to work harder so that they can catch up, they dumb down the curriculum thus causing those students who are quicker learners to become stagnant.
Unfortunately, over the past several decades, even the past century or so, the Church has been guilty of doing the same thing the educational system has done, and that is dumb down the Bible. I, for one, like being challenged especially when it comes to the Bible. The milky VBS curriculum that I was exposed to bored me to death! I truly believe that pastors and other church leaders short-change the kids in their churches. They probably feel like they don’t have the capability to know or understand deeper Biblical doctrine. Granted, you can’t go in and start feeding a child who hasn’t been exposed to the Bible some of the “meatier” parts of the Bible at the beginning. You WILL need to start with the easy stuff. But, to continue on feeding them the easy stuff and never moving up to the solid doctrine just stunts their growth and they end up getting bored and either go looking elsewhere for more solid Biblical teaching or they quit altogether. It’s not for a pastor or teacher to decide what the kids can or can’t understand. They are to just teach and preach what the Bible says and let the Holy Spirit give understanding as He sees fit. Isn’t that where we gain our understanding from as adults? So, why should it be any different with children. Back during the times of the Puritans, the children were taught the heavy stuff of doctrine as part of their upbringing. I have no doubt that children back in those days had a more deeper knowledge and understanding of Biblical doctrine than some adults do these days. And it’s all because the Church felt it necessary to dumb down the Bible.