Yup...summers in Colorado, trekking each year at the urging of a friend or two to come to Vacation Bible School at a church or two or three. I vaguely remember refreshments. I remember breaks to play games. I remember singing simple songs with the piano. It was fun and simple. I got saved at one of these VBS...I spent all week reading and re-reading the gospel tracts they sent home with us, until Wednesday or Thursday night I got down on my knees in front of my closet and trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Things didn't change much when, as a high school student, our children's director asked me to take the 5th grade boys group for VBS. I don't remember much, but I do remember the simplicity of it all. It was also my first taste of children's ministry.
If I had instantaneously "quantum leaped" into the future, surely my reaction would have been "wow!" Of course, I would have missed the intervening years of cultural changes. I would have not been aware of the growing movement to relate to children as children. I would not have known how seriously publishing companies and children's resource networks were taking the business of capturing the culture, engaging the kids, and adopting the methodology of now without changing the timeless message.
But there were intervening years and I did get to see the changes. Those who insist on doing children's ministries using the same methods of 50 years ago have (in my humble opinion) underestimated what has been happening in our society. The needs of the children are the same, but their backgrounds, environments, and priorities have been radically altered. The kids I hung out with as a boy would have been "shell-shocked" by the VBS our church just finished. But even the most loyal, church going kids of today would be bored silly with the VBS of my childhood.
But now, as then, children's ministries has an impact. Kids are still getting saved in VBS, just as I was. And our teens jumped right in to help this year, perhaps planting a seed in their lives to enter future ministry. God bless VBS.