Last week my kids went to Vacation Bible School. They did what any kid normally does at vacation bible school. There was singing, craft time, games and more. It was same ol’, same ol’ even in one part that I didn’t want to be the same.
You see last year as I picked our oldest up one day from VBS I was handed a letter. I opened the letter in our van and my heart sank to the floor. What could be in a letter that caused that reaction?
The letter informed me that on that day during what this church calls the Big Show, my daughter had accepted Christ.
I know what you’re thinking, “That’s great news! As a Christian, why aren’t you excited?”.
First of all it was because I didn’t want to find out that information from a form letter. Secondly, she had not said one word about it to me in the 20 minutes since I first picked her up from VBS.
As a christian, the day that I accepted Christ is the most memorable day of my life. I remember the call of Christ on my life and how I felt the second that I decided that I could no longer deny Him. There was a change in me and I am forever changed.
When you trust Christ with your life, you’re not going to breeze through life without pain or sorrow. Life is still life – it’s hard, rugged, torturous at times and even frightening. Believing in Christ doesn’t remove that, it simply gives you a belief that you’re climbing that mountain for a reason and most importantly, you’re not alone in it.
I’m not writing this to preach or make you conform to my faith.
I’m writing those words because I want you to understand that this is how much it means to me that my children accept Christ as their Savior. It is a life or death decision to christians, not a worldly life but an eternal life.
It’s not a choice that I can make for them or pressure them into. It’s a choice that they have to make for themselves and stand behind that choice for the rest of their lives, no matter the trials that come their way.
So you see, the last possible way I want to hear this news is in a form letter with a fake signature.
My daughter never mentioned one thing to me. Later that afternoon I asked her if she had gone up to the stage during the Big Show that day and she told me that she had. When I asked why she told me it was because all her friends did.
I threw the letter away.
This year I took them back to the same VBS because it’s the church where they go to Awanas and have so many friends there.
My plan was to talk with them on Thursday about the altar call and ask them not to go up but to talk to us instead if they had questions. I had my days mixed up and the altar call was Wednesday.
Once again I went to pick up my children and this year I was handed two letters, one for each of my older two girls. One of them being the one that received the letter last year.
I walked up to my middle child’s VBS room and my heart sunk. There standing by the door was the VBS teacher, holding a handful of letters – about one for every child still in the room.
She handed me the letter and said “good news! Your child accepted Christ today!”.
And this is what I most regret. My response out of anger at the situation (not at her) was “Yea I get one every year and I just throw them in the trash”. Her face fell. I still feel bad. Her intentions were good, mine were not.
That child still has not said one word to me about the altar call that she responded to and this is the child that we have considered bribing to stop talking in the past.
We left that room and went down a few halls and some stairs to pick up my oldest. Everywhere there was letters. Parents or children holding them, it seemed like they were papering the halls. Hundreds of letters must have gone home that day.
And for the second year in the row they handed me the same exact letter that I had received the year before saying my daughter has accepted Christ.
And for the second year in a row my heart fell ten stories.
This year I threw away two letters.
It probably is easier to hand out letters to make sure every child’s parent is notified since some come with friends. However they do have the phone numbers of every child’s parents. Why not call or better yet do more to reach out to people face to face?
A letter instructing them to set up an appointment to talk about their decision further is not follow up or counseling on the issue to make sure they understand the depth of their decision – it’s an out. It’s a way to say “there’s too many but we did our best and the ones that truly meant it will call and take action”.
My fear beyond fear is that many of these children will go through life believing that they have given their life to Christ yet in truth they just followed everyone else and truly never knew what they were doing. They never actually made their decision and will become bitter at Christ for not doing all the things that VBS promised them He would do if they just say the prayer.
It’s not just reciting words to a prayer that someone leads you through – it’s SO MUCH MORE.
Let me say that they people that volunteer and help with VBS have hearts of gold. They do plant seed and do so much in the lives of these kids to help them make that choice for Christ. They’re there for the right reasons and they are so successful at loving these children and showing them the light of God.
Honestly I do not believe the leadership is doing it in ill will, even when they know that kids are simply following each other forward during the altar call. They love kids and they want to see them make the right decisions. They’re just going about it wrong, in my opinion.
Animal hoarders want to save all the animals. They don’t want anyone to hurt an animal or abandon one so they take them in. They feed them and care for the the best they possibly can. Until one day they realize that it’s out of control and their 15 animals are now 100 with many starving and very sick animals. It’s not because they didn’t love or try, it’s because they got so caught up in their mission that they forgot to occasionally take a truthful look at the situation.
This church has to stop and take a truthful look at the situation.
Kids are making emotional decisions based on other’s actions that will follow them the rest of their lives. Yes maybe there are kids really truly giving their hearts to Christ and that’s amazing! But how many more are being lead to believe that because they repeated words with no true meaning in their hearts, they are now saved forever?
How many are being lead astray by good intentions?
I did email the children’s pastor and asked a few questions, including how many letters were given out. He has offered to meet with me in person to talk about why they do it this way but he did not answer how many letters were given out that day. I might take him up on his offer, I honestly have not decided right now.
At this point we’re not sure if our daughters are going to continue any involvement with this church. But if they do – if they do go back to VBS next year with this church, which they love and adore – Than I hope more than anything that there’s a change.
I hope there’s no more letters. More than anything I hope they’ll focus more on making sure the child’s heart is understanding before they lead them through a life and eternity changing decision.
Sorry for all the heaviness. Don’t worry – there’s a great story how to spill concrete all over the place coming later this week. I just truly feel passionate about this issue and hope that there’s a change in the future.
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