The Evils of VBS

glue smallIt’s VBS season. Whether you like it or not chances are your church is probably doing VBS. That means that the internet is blowing up with discussions about VBS. Some of these discussions are very constructive sharing tips on how to make your VBS the best it can be. However, some of these discussions are less constructive. Year after year I read the same complaints about VBS. I’d like to take a few moments to address some of the most popular complaints.

It’s just free daycare. Many complain because some parents use VBS as little more than free childcare. My response: SO WHAT! Many of these parents do this so that they can work. School ending leaves them without childcare during the hours that they work. If VBS is nothing more than an opportunity to serve the families in your community through childcare, then praise God.

How many of those new families ACTUALLY join your church? It’s true that in many churches the number of new families that visit VBS and end up joining the church is very small. My Response: SO WHAT! I am not saying that we should not have a desire to reach new families and to have them become a part of our church. But, if a child walks into your VBS, learns Biblical values and hears the gospel, but never joins your church, then I say the event was a success.

Are you reaching unchurched people? Certainly the desire to reach unchurched people needs to be ever present. However, I also know that sometimes it takes getting a kid out of there usual environment for them to really listen to what is being taught and maybe even be open to the gospel. If God wants to use VBS at my church to bring a kid from another church to salvation, then bring it on.

It’s so much work for one week. VBS is a lot of work. But is there any other event that your church does that has the potential to bring so many kids together at the same place and same time and gives you the opportunity to share the gospel?

It’s the same thing that every other church around is doing. Ok, so DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. There are lots of options when it comes to VBS. Find a curriculum that is not being done by the majority of churches in your area and use it. Or write your own stuff. If it really bothers you that everyone seems to be doing the same thing, then do something different. I understand this frustration and it is why I tend to use a different VBS from my neighbors.

It’s mostly for the church kids. Hmm. Not even sure I understand this one. So, we send all year teaching kids about Jesus and sharing the gospel in children’s church or other events, but suddenly this one week we don’t think that is good enough. Maybe this is the moment that the kid you have spent all year investing in comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

These are not the only complaints that people make. They also complain about the cost, the difficulty in getting volunteers and more. Come back tomorrow as I share my thoughts on what to do about these complaints and how to make your VBS meaningful again.


This post turned into a series aimed at helping us Redeem VBS. You below find a link to all of those posts.

Redeeming VBS – Free Daycare

Redeeming VBS – How Many Families Come Back?

Matt Norman

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“As you come to him, the living stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him.” 1 Peter 2:4

Let’s face it at one point or another pretty  much all of us have experienced rejection. This can be a feeling so bad that many of us will avoid certain situations that might put us at risk for rejection. Maybe we never apply for the job we want for fear of not getting it. Maybe we never chase our dreams for fear of not reaching them. Maybe we never as the girl we like out for fear that she’ll say no. Whatever the circumstances, we have all faced and experienced rejection. AND, no matter how hard we try, we WILL experience it again. But, we need not be discouraged by it.

It happened to Jesus. In the verse above Peter refers to Jesus as “the living stone – rejected by men.” The Jews had been looking for the Messiah for many years. There were many prophesies that pointed to who the Messiah would be and how they would be able to  identify him. Jesus fulfilled ALL of these prophesies. Yet, the Jewish people did not recognize him. In fact they rejected him and, in the end, demanded his death.

Why does this matter? It matters because Jesus is God. He lived a completely sinless life. He was the very person that the Jews were looking for and yet HE WAS REJECTED. I am not suggesting that this will take all the pain out of rejection, but sometimes it does help to know that you are not alone. The devil tries to tell us that whatever our struggle is we are the only one. He tries to get us to believe that no one else understands or has been through it. When it comes to rejection WE HAVE ALL BEEN THROUGH IT, even Jesus.

Be encouraged. There is some encouragement for us here as well. You see, Peter goes on to say that while Jesus was rejected by men, he was CHOSEN BY GOD and precious to him. This is encouraging because it is true of us too, if we have given out hearts to Jesus. Even as Jesus was rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious to him; so are we.

Remember that. Next time you consider avoiding a situation because of fear of rejection remember that you have been chosen by God. Next time you experience the pain of rejection remember that Jesus did too. Next time rejection has you doubting your own worth remember that you are chosen by God and are precious to him.

Matt Norman

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GPS: Stop Yelling at Your Kids

Some time ago I started a series called Greatest Parenting Struggles (GPS). You can find links to all the previous posts HERE. To start this series I asked my Facebook friends to tell me about their biggest struggles in parenting. Here is the response that I want to address today:

 “Not yelling at them, when its the third or fourth time they have been asked to do a specific task.”

I can’t speak for all parents, but for me and my wife this is a serious struggle. We are much better about it than we used to be, but it still creeps up from time to time. So, how do we get away from this?

It doesn’t work. One thing that I have noticed is that when we yell often, it actually doesn’t get the results we desire. When we make a habit of raised voices, then there is no way for our kids to tell when a situation is of greater urgency. For this reason we actually don’t get the results we are looking for. There will be times when a raised voice my be necessary to get the attention of our children in order to make/keep them safe, but when used regularly it looses it’s effectiveness. 

Consider the consequences. We often think of abuse as something physical. However, verbal/emotional abuse can be as damaging, if not more. The wounds left by physical abuse heal over time, but the emotional wounds may stay for a lifetime. When we consistently deal with our children with a raised voice the eventual result is a hit to their self esteem. While it would never be our goal, this sort of treatment can cause our children to doubt their self worth for years to come.

Fear is not the goal. I can distinctly remember the look in my sons eyes at times when I have taken it a little too far; when I have become too aggressive in how I spoke to him. This look was FEAR. This is not something I ever want my son to feel from me. We must remember that we are no only bigger, but also more powerful than they are. They know this and can feel fear when we come at them too aggressively.

Acknowledge that there is a problem. I think the biggest thing that keeps us from address this problem, or most others, is that we don’t want to admit to ourselves that there actually is a problem. Be conscious of how you talk to your kids and consider how often you are speaking to them with a raised voice or an aggressive tone. If this is happening multiple times a day, or even just daily, then it is a problem. 

Discipline, don’t yell. In my house if I have to tell you a second time to do something then I consider it disobedience. Rather than yelling at your child multiple times in attempt to get them to comply move to disciple. I’m not gonna discuss what forms of discipline you should use as every child is different. Yelling rarely produces the desired effect and can be damaging to your child emotionally. So, skip it and go to what works.

A change of heart. I know I just told you to discipline your child, but I want you to consider something before you do that. The goal of discipline is behavior modification. At the end of the day, in my house, my children WILL do what they are told. If behavior modification is the only path to this goal then I will use it, at least for the short term. However, ultimately I want my children to comply because they WANT to. This requires them to experience a change of heart. For this we have to ask ourselves what is motivating their disobedience. This topic behavior modification versus heart change is something I am reading on right now (well once I get all my books out of boxes). So, stay tuned for more posts on that subject, but for now I say just be aware that heart change is much more effective, in the long term, than simple behavior modification.

Be sure to check out all the GPS posts HERE.

Matt Norman

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The State of YOUR Union

The Bible is clear that our most important relationship is with God. It teaches that to place anything, or anyone above this relationship is idolatry. It is also clear that our next priority should be the relationship with our spouse. In spite of this it can be easy for our attention to stray to other relationships, leaving our marriage to run on cruise control. This will damage our relationship and keep it from being all that it can be.

Our parents are important. One of the relationships that can detract from our marriage is that with our parents. I love my parents and still have a great relationship with them. In fact one of my favorite things is to have coffee with them on Saturday mornings. Jesus even modeled the importance of our relationship with our parents while hanging on the cross. In John 19:25-27 Jesus instructed John to care for his mother. He did this after being beaten and nailed to a cross and with a crown of thorns on his head. Clearly Jesus loved his mother.

Our kids are important. Many would agree that kids are a gift from God. As such we should care for them. In Mark 10:13-16 Jesus shows the importance of children as he REBUKES the disciples for running the children off. I know he is not talking about parenting in this passage, but it was parents that were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing and he received them with open arms.

Leaving mom and dad. The first reference to marriage in the Bible is in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother…” This is in reference to the relationship between Adam and Eve. For the sake of the relationship with his wife a man will LEAVE his parents. As I pointed out earlier this is not to say that we are to end the relationship with our parents, but it does mean that our spouse now takes a higher priority. While this passage only mentions a man leaving his parents, it also applies to the woman.

Becoming one flesh. Genesis 2:24 goes on to say, “…and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” I’m not gonna discuss what it means to become one flesh. However, I think that it is important that we acknowledge the significance of this passage. If husband and wife are now ONE FLESH, then what does that mean for our relationship? Consider what it means that your arm and hand are “one flesh”. Consider what would happen if you arm could decide to stop sending blood flow to the hand. Suppose one arm decided that the other arm was more valuable than the hand. Eventually if the hand did not receive the blood flow and nourishment that it needed, it would die. If husband and wife are one flesh, then the same thing will happen if one or the other allows some other relationship to become more important than your spouse.

Where your treasure is. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is true of our relationship with our spouse. Do you invest more money is your hobbies than in your spouse? This same principle applies to how we spend our time. Do you have a regular golf date with your buddies? What about a regular, scheduled date with your wife? Do you get all dressed up to go out with your girl friends, but put little effort into getting ready to go out with your husband?

Think about it. Each year the United States President does a speech titled “The State of the Union.” I think that we need to regularly take inventory of the State of OUR Union. Take time to REALLY consider the condition of your marriage. Talk to your spouse. As them how THEY feel about the condition of your marriage. Take a weekend away with just you and your spouse. Use this time to reconnect and to evaluate the state of your union, together.

Regardless of what you do, the bottom line is not to neglect your marriage. A healthy marriage will not just happen. It requires work and the results are worth the effort.

Matt Norman

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How I Got Here

CompassMany of you have followed the journey that has brought me to FBC Tallassee. Along the way I have learned some valuable lessons. This may not be ground breaking, but it is something that I had to learn and I think it was a turning point for me in this journey.

Stop seeking direction. Praying for direction is something many Christians do, especially those in leadership. In and of itself this is not a bad thing. After all, if Jesus is the Lord of our lives, then we should ask Him for direction in our life. Makes since. However, if we are not careful we can become so focused on seeking direction that we miss what is really important.

Seek Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” When we seek direction we are looking for the way God wants us to go in a given situation. If Jesus is THE WAY, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should seek him?

How I figured this out. My journey has been filled with a fair amount of frustration. This frustration came to a head two or three months ago. At that point I decided I was done trying. I was done searching for where God was sending me next. It was then that I was invited to attend a conference being held by the local Southern Baptist Association. In that conference I attended a session about vision. The speaker talked about how to seek vision. I decided that I was gonna do what he said and see what God had to say to me about my future. A few days later I was at a local nature park with my Bible, a notebook and a pen.

You see what this speaker recommended was to take your Bible and read. While reading pray that God would speak to you. As you read, when you feel God saying something to you, right it down. This is what I did. I would read, pray and write what God was saying. After about an hour I looked back over what I had written and asked what God was saying to me. This went on for a few hours. At the end of the day I looked back over the several pages that I had written and asked “what is God saying to me?” As I did this it was clear that God was telling me one thing: STOP SEEKING DIRECTION AND SEEK ME!

Seeking directions isn’t bad. In an of itself seeking direction is not a bad thing. However, when we pursue direction with more passion that we pursue Jesus, it becomes a big problem. My experience through this has been that so long as I continue to pursue Jesus, he gives me direction. There will come times when we need to seek direction, but we must be diligent to ensure that this never takes the place of seeking Jesus.

Matt Norman

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