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Is decline in Bible schools a sign we don't value children?
Is the decline in churches offering vacation Bible schools another sign that couples don't place as much value on children as they once did?A story on the site [WorldNetDaily.com] makes that connection.You might have heard about a recent study by the Pew Research Center that said sharing household chores, having enough money and a good sex life were among the top keys to a successful marriage, according to couples. Having children ranked eighth out of nine factors the Pew Research Center asked about.The WorldNetDaily story links that with a 2005 study by the Barna Group, which said there had been a 15 percent decline in the number of churches offering such summer programs between since 1997. The study said that meant 38,000 fewer churches with VBS programs.I have no stats for Lawrence, but it seems like this must be the season for vacation Bible schools. When I typed up the weekly Faith Briefs last week, there were at least four churches (First Christian Church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Lawrence Wesleyan Church and Eudora United Methodist Church) that had VBS programs this week, and another (Clinton Parkway Assembly of God) with one next week.The national decline has some children's advocates concerned. John Ross, an advocate for the creation of a national Children's Day, issued a press release calling for the church to "reaffirm its commitment to children by initiating, continuing and expanding VBS.""Now more than ever, children need the church to step up to the plate," he says in a press release. "Children are in dire need of spiritual and moral guidance. VBS reaches beyond denominational boundaries. It's a great tool for spiritual formation and community outreach."Randy Beeman, pastor at First Christian Church - which is hosting a VBS with the theme "Avalanche Ranch" this week - attributes the decline in churches offering Bible schools, in part, to fewer stay-at-home parents who can take their children to churches during the day, when many VBS programs are offered.Beeman also thinks many churches don't really know why they have the programs, so it's easy to cancel them."I ... think that it is a great outreach opportunity to our neighborhoods," Beeman says. "It also gives the adults who are at home during the day a great chance to reach and teach kids. Lots of new kids come to First Christian because of VBS. They see we love kids of all sizes, ages, shapes and color."But fewer stay-at-home parents also means fewer volunteers."I think that VBS will continue to face challenges," Beeman says. "I think it will grow if we consider night-time VBS programs as well as keeping the daytime programs strong for those churches who can."_ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by religion beat reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at email@example.com, or 832-7145._ : http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56482