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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][1] 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 trombeck@ljworld.com, or 832-7145._ [1]: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56482


Christian Hinton 10 years ago

I fail to see the connection.

Is the statistic about what couples rank as important indicative of a tendency by all, including those who have children, to undervalue their offspring, or is it rather indicating that more couples are choosing not to have children because they do not view them as important?

It seems more plausible that there are more people who don't value children as much who are simply deciding not to have children than that parents are deciding not to send their children to VBS because they do not think it is worth it. Furthermore, is the decline of VBS a decline in the religious dedication of families in general, or a decline in the effort parents are willing to spend on their children? What is needed are statistics over several years about percentages of couples with children who are(n't) sending them to VBS.

The connection above seems tenuous at best.

jonas 10 years ago

Maybe we've grown callous with the many people screaming that every selfish thing they do and control they make is "for the children."

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

It seems that a decline in vacation bible schools means that parents are caring more about their children now than in the past. Instead of sending kids away from home to camp to be babysat by a bunch of strangers, parents now might be spending more time with their children in summer activities.

chet_larock 10 years ago

This seems pretty pointless to me.

AslanTheLion 10 years ago

Frankly I think the decline is a good thing. Filling a child's head with nonsense fairytales will screw them up more in the long run.

fletch 10 years ago

WorldNetDaily isn't exactly an impartial source. They're the same people who pretty much claimed we're going to hell for letting a Hindu give a prayer on the floor of the House of Representatives.

white_mountain 10 years ago

(Lev 26:29 NRSV) God threatens to punish the Israelites by forcing them to eat the flesh of their children. (Exo 12:29 NRSV) God kills scores of innocent babies and children. (Ezek 20:26 NRSV) God allows the horrible sacrifice of babies to him so the people would know He is Lord. (Hosea 13:16 NRSV) God allows Jewish babies to be dashed to pieces and pregnant Jewish women to be ripped open. (Lev 26:22 NRSV) God threatens to have wild animals carry the Israelites children away. (Exo 20:5 NRSV) God unfairly promises to punish innocent children for the sins of their parents "to the third and fourth generation".

Parents, keep your children safe.

If you must send them to Bible school, at least warn them about the atrocities that God has committed against innocent children, so they are not terrified when they read about it.

hawklet21 10 years ago

Perhaps parents are simply opting for summer activities that have more relevance to the child's education and hobbies. There are scads of sports camps, music camps, Boy's state, Girl's state, etc. It seems like Vacation Bible School wouldn't be as useful if you've already got them in church every Sunday and Sunday School to boot. I'm with GitS, I don't really see much connection between any two topics in this article at all.

craigers 10 years ago

The general decline of programs for kids does reflect a lack of focus on their needs. It is good to teach children the truth instead of letting our society teach them the feels good, do it mentality.

purplesage 10 years ago

I think that the question misses the point. It isn't a question of "caring" about kids. I know that, in many towns, in times past, kids would go to several VBS programs in a summer. It provided a positive environment and gave them something to do. These days, there is a lot more competition.

Has anyone noticed the number of VBS programs that are not offered during the morning hours as they traditionally were? The women of the church have long been the primary teachers for VBS; they are not available during those hours anymore because a huge percentage are employed outside the home. Hence, the advent of evening VBS programs.

Some churches would offer VBS if they could. Older membership congregations often cannot raise the help they need for VBS.

irishdevil99 10 years ago

"WorldNetDaily isn't exactly an impartial source. They're the same people who pretty much claimed we're going to hell for letting a Hindu give a prayer on the floor of the House of Representatives."

Yes, and the Barna Group where they got their research doesn't exactly sound disinterested either. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Barna

kneejerkreaction 10 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jonas 10 years ago

No, and this referenced article does not do anything to suggest such a connection exists. In fact, reading it, the closest thing I could come up with for a comparison (with this article just taking two transitioning factors and mashing them together) is the rationale on Global Warming from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, as being caused by the annual decrease in pirates.

But then, as previous posters have noted, why should be expect anything less from WorldNetDaily? Such publications as it and Newsmax wear their ideology on their sleeve, and hide their perspective biases in plain sight.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 years ago

I would like to jump in here. I remember VBS when I was young (a while back). It was a large church denomination that is regarded as being pretty fundamentalistic, even today. I do not belong to that denomination now because of this fundamentalist leaning. But the thing that really concerns me is from the very Holy Bible itself. Some of the Ten Commandments speak of having no other gods before Me, and against making graven images. Yet today the fundie crowd continues to proclaim that the Holy Bible is absolutely true, exact, complete and the very Word of God. The book itself has become an object of unfazed worship. Any intelligent person who has given time to study the history of the Holy Bible and it's known origins knows that this is a great work. But also a flawed work. It is not the Word of God, it is the word of Man who claims to be inspired by God, and this is a great difference. The Holy Bible contains great truths, stories, and admonitions and should not be ignored. But to proclaim that every word is the exact truth, the infallible word of "God" is stretching a lot of wisdom, knowledge and common sense. I do not know how many people agree with my stand on this issue, but I suspect that a lot of folks are not really anxious for their childern to be exposed to religious zealotry. We have seen enough of that on 9-11.

Tychoman 10 years ago

A decline in Bible schools is a sign we DO value our children.

Diana Lee 10 years ago

The decline VBS is probably mostly related to the decline in church attendance at large rather than any move away from a focus on children.

I loved VBS as a kid, and as a younger adult I always enjoyed helping with it. But I can imagine that it is increasingly difficult to find adults who are able to help. I know I haven't been able to since I finished college.

manyblessings 10 years ago


The scriptures you quoted need to be read in context to be understood. For example, Exodus 20:5 does indeed say "....For I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those that HATE me, BUT showing MERCY to THOUSANDS, to those who LOVE me and keep my commandments." (NKJV, emphasis mine). So it is possible to break the cycle of the generations of family members who hate the Lord by someone deciding to love Him and thus recieving His mercy.

Anyway, as for not sending their kids to VBS, I suppose people have all sorts of reasons. I don't send my kids to VBS because they are already taught about the Lord at home and attend church and I don't feel it is necessary to send them to an extra "program" to learn about Him. I don't feel like people not attending is a statement about the way society sees children, though I agree that children are not valued the way they should be in general in society today.

white_mountain 10 years ago

I remember as a child being invited to attend a friend's VBS at his church. My parents figured it would be good for me, so I went.

The first day I was there one of the teachers scowled at me and said "you're not a REAL Christian! Why are you here?". You see, this was a Baptist VBS, and my family was not Baptist.

I never told my parents about this, but to this day I still remember it like it was yesterday.

davisnin 10 years ago

well white_mountain, today the kids with faith are told they are ignorant and stupid for believing. People from all walks are d@#ks

Ragingbear 10 years ago

Next article: Is the decline in bee population the reason why we have not yet landed on Mars?

Bubarubu 10 years ago

So WND (the credibility of which others have already taken up) says VBS numbers are down. The local paper does apparently very little to see if that trend holds in Lawrence, but asks if we still value our children? Not only does this article say nothing about Lawrence in re: the broader trend, but it serves essentially as an advertisement for the five churches holding VBS in the next two weeks. Where was this article last week, when First Presbyterian was running their VBS? First Southern Baptist, First Church of the Nazarene. and Central UMC ran in June, but were never mentioned. Why are Lawrence Free Methodist and Trinity Lutheran not mentioned for their VBS programs, both running next week? In four minutes, with just the first 2 pages of a Google search, I found more VBS programs in town than Rombeck could find. Sad that reprinting a WND article, getting a single phone interview, ignoring no fewer than 6 churches in town, and advertising for 5 others passes for adequate beat coverage.

geekin_topekan 10 years ago

Bees have no faith.Wrath of God has followed.

Crossfire 10 years ago

Tychoman A decline in Bible schools is a sign we DO value our children.

Keep them kids away from that Kool-Aid and Oreo's. ...Jonestown VBS.

white_mountain 10 years ago

davisnin, eventually the kids have to grow up and be told that the fairy tales just aren't true. however, calling children ignorant is very wrong.

blue_daisy 10 years ago

Wow, I am appalled at some of the comments on this article and am glad that my kids go to VBS and are learning the truth about Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. Now I understand why we pray for our country, cities and schools on a daily basis.

"For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." John 3:16-17

The Bible taken out of context can be used to anyone's purpose and that is exactly what Paul taught against and warned Christians about in the New Testament. Maybe some of you should attend church and find out for yourselves...we'd love to have you!

trombeck 10 years ago

Two quick points of clarification

Machiavelli - This blog is only intended to spark discussion, which it did. The opinions in it aren't mine - they're from another site and from a local pastor.

Bubarubu - I simply wrote those were among the churches with VBS programs this week. I can only know about the ones that churches have informed me of. There are a lot of churches in town. I always encourage churches to send in their news for the Faith Briefs, but not all do on a regular basis.

  • Terry Rombeck

white_mountain 10 years ago

Hi blue_daisy. I'd like to see the "context" that justifies these terrible things that God did. Can you help provide it?

(Lev 26:29 NRSV) God threatens to punish the Israelites by forcing them to eat the flesh of their children. (Exo 12:29 NRSV) God kills scores of innocent babies and children. (Ezek 20:26 NRSV) God allows the horrible sacrifice of babies to him so the people would know He is Lord. (Hosea 13:16 NRSV) God allows Jewish babies to be dashed to pieces and pregnant Jewish women to be ripped open. (Lev 26:22 NRSV) God threatens to have wild animals carry the Israelites children away. (Exo 20:5 NRSV) God unfairly promises to punish innocent children for the sins of their parents "to the third and fourth generation".

geekin_topekan 10 years ago

Duetrenomy 5;12-14"And God DID find wrath in the wayward bees.And he DID create unto them Seven hives Fire.

Bubarubu 10 years ago

trombeck begs absolution with :"I simply wrote those were among the churches with VBS programs this week. I can only know about the ones that churches have informed me of. There are a lot of churches in town. I always encourage churches to send in their news for the Faith Briefs, but not all do on a regular basis."

The fact that every church does not choose to inform you, personally, of every single event they host does not relieve you of responsibility for accurate reporting. Your "blog" post still consisted of the following structure: repost finding from wildly biased source with sensationalist headline, interview a single local pastor, and advertise programming for a select few churches. As I said in my first post, the smallest investment in reporting would have yielded more local results and you consciously chose not to investigate the relation between the national story (however dubious) and the local trends. Additionally, it could be that the search is incomplete, but I'm not finding any mention of VBS for any of the five churches you listed in the most recent Faith Briefs online (June 30, 2007, feel free to point me to a correction). I do, however, find VBS advertised at Centenary UMC and Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church in the June 9 Faith Briefs, neither of which is mentioned in your article. It looks like Stull UMC advertises one of the evening programs that Rev. Beeman is talking about, which are becoming increasingly common among local churches, something that a few more calls would have revealed for your "blog". Stull UMC advertises their program in both the June 9 and May 5 Faith Briefs. May 5 also has an advertisement for the VBS at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. In other words, the source you're claiming in the paper you write for has much more information than your column. In two posts, two and half hours apart, I've identified 10 VBS programs you chose not to name, four of which advertised their programming in your paper. Seriously?

Bubarubu 10 years ago

As an addition, Central UMC did advertise their VBS in the April 14 edition of Faith Briefs. That brings to five the number of VBS programs that did advertise in the LJW that you didn't report on. For anyone keeping score at home, those five are Centenary UMC, Central UMC, Cornerstone Southern Baptist, St Margaret Episcopal, and Stull UMC. Three other churches (First Presbyterian, First Southern Baptist, and First Church of the Nazarene) did not advertise and were not mentioned when their VBS programs had passed. Two churches (Lawrence Free Methodist and Trinity Lutheran) did not advertise and were not mentioned, though their programs take place next week. Ten churches shorted by the LJW religion reporting.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years ago

Reading some of these comments makes me realize that the bumper sticker is right; Kansas really IS as bigoted as you think.

jonas 10 years ago

Kam-Fong: Which side are you referring to? I see a few brands of potential bigotry (if you wish to use the word) running through this thread.

white_mountain 10 years ago

Yes manyblessings, I have already heard the "needs to be read in context" dodge.. still trying to figure out what "context" could possibly justify these terrible things!

You seem to conclude that if we just worship this jealous God, then no innocent babies and unborn children need die. Yet you have nothing to say at all about whether or not it's right or wrong to kill innocent children in the first place. You seem to feel it's okay, so long as it's God who's doing the killing. Am I right?

I think it's terribly wrong, and I don't see how anyone can justify this immoral behavior. These kinds of lessons don't seem to value our kids at all.

Christian Hinton 10 years ago


To take issue with such a blog post on accuracy or thoroughness of "reporting" is a waste of time.

AslanTheLion 10 years ago

@ Marion- WHat does a dead dog have to do with this article or the comments??? Plus...you shouldn't jack w/ Zevon. That is just wrong!

This was a silly article and the fact that it is in print shows how worthless LJW can be. OMG....kids aren't going to brainwash camp, what a shame!

purplesage 10 years ago

It is a sad commentary that people who would give their time to try to pass on the truth of the Bible to children of the next generation are equated with terrorists! This kind of undiscerning generalization is inevitable, I suppose, in a culture where everything has become relative and all is up for negotiation. Some of the comments reveal minds that are deeply opposed to ANYTHING of a religious nature, which is sad. What happened to discrimination, and the ability to discern things for one's self. A children's program, run by members of a local church, to teach about the love of God for humanity as expressed in the gift of His Son, Jesus is NOT in any way congruous with an Islamic training school for suicide bombers - but some of you seem to think so.

It is unfortunate that insensitive remarks like those related to not being a "real Christian" are made. Please know they are not the way all Baptists think. I remember the same kind of remark being made, except it was directed to my parents, who were Methodists, by a Baptist layman. I remember it, too.

Christian Hinton 10 years ago

Anyone who professes to call himself a Christian and then thinks he can discern who is and isn't Christian clearly has a false understanding of what Christianity is and what Christians are supposed to do (or not do.)

Deuteronomy 1:17: "Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God."

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years ago

I've always loved the sound of "Vacation Bible School" as pronouced by a southerner. That will probably be my most meaningful statement of this day. I'll also state that adding "Vacation" to "Bible School" seems a bit like a marketing ploy. The Bible is no vacation. School is no vacation. Bible School sounds more like a vocation than a vacation. We could promotel Bible School better by calling it Candy, Pop and French Fries Pool Party Bible Bash, I suppose. It wouldn't have the same ring as VAYeeKAYshin BOBul SKOOwul, though.

By the way, I can almost understand the relevance of Marion's "Dog is Dead" post in this thread.

Ragingbear 10 years ago

Bible school, ensuring that future generations have crazy religious ladies and Fred Phelps wannabees since 1799.

Crossfire 10 years ago

"I'm in the Lords Army." "Onward Christian Soldiers" "Take you sins to the Watery Grave of Baptism" ...not what I want to teach my children... http://www.worth1000.com/entries/241000/241193KPrO_w.jpg

Crossfire 10 years ago

"And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?" "Because people are sleeping"

John Spencer 10 years ago

Ahhh Bible school,,, Take one camp of repressed youngsters, add naive bible beating counselors,, mix gently at night and well you know.... good times ,,, good times.....

acg 10 years ago

I don't know about the rest of ya'll but it would be a cold day in Hell before I would drop my children off to be tended to by a bunch of religious leaders.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years ago

acg, If the church basement is air conditioned, you might want to take that back!~)

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