by: Rhonda VanCleave
VBS Publishing Team Leader
I have a cousin who is an interior designer. I am not. She posts tons of Facebook photos of how her home changes to reflect the seasons. My home reflects the season changes based on what is dumped on the dining table or what shoes pile up by the back door. Yes, I indulge in a bit of home décor like the dollar store “Welcome” sign on the front door or an occasional what not, but that’s about it. Is my cousin’s home better than mine? Am I a slacker? No to both questions! The truth is, we have different personalities, priorities, and preferences. Both of us have homes that are places to be with family, gather with friends, and do life. It’s the same way with our churches. During the course of our marriage, my husband and I have lived in four states and been part of six different churches. And, guess what, they decorated differently for Christmas, for Thanksgiving, for Easter, and most assuredly, they decorated differently for VBS. Were any of them “wrong” or “better”? Of course not! Here’s what I’ve discovered first hand about decorating for VBS:
- Decorating is as much a use of talents and gifts as any other act of service (teaching, music, etc.). When those who are gifted are allowed and encouraged to use their gifts, they blossom and grow, and the church benefits. Not only that, but it frees up those who are not so decorating-inclined to focus on that with which they feel most comfortable.
- Not every church has someone who loves to go all out with decorating. Embrace that fact. If God wanted that sort of person in your church, He would have provided it. Use pre-made decorations, keep it to a minimum, and look for what God HAS provided for you. Maybe your church has an amazing snack team, or energetic recreation leaders, or really engaging Bible study leaders. Thank God for your strengths and don’t allow the enemy to focus your attention on comparing your church with someone else’s.
- Even classrooms can vary. Some classrooms may look like Pinterest exploded. There are kids who will thrive in that environment. Other classrooms may have nothing more than items from the teaching kit. However, kids who struggle with overstimulation may find this peaceful environment perfect. Make each teacher feel appreciated and successful. And if you do notice a “beyond expectations” room, invite that person to help with your overall decorations next year!
- Budgets can limit decorating options, but again, if you have a person or people with this talent, money is not usually an issue. One of our churches had a lady who could do amazing things with cardboard appliance boxes and cans of “goof” paint from the hardware store. Others can rummage through supply closets and imagine things I totally miss. Decorating shouldn’t consume the bulk of your budget, which may mean putting the brakes on some who are overzealous.
- Kids rarely comment about the stage decorations or things they passed along the hallways. But they will often talk about the people who talked with them, who made them feel special, or who made the experience fun. Kids are usually more into what they are able to do, rather than what they see.
The bottom line is that we should look carefully at the people God has placed in our church and encourage them to serve God in their sweet spots. My pastor often teaches that one of the best ways to discover your gifts is to pay attention to what you enjoy the most and then think about how you can serve God with those gifts. Serving God with the gifts and abilities He has given us is rewarding. We are not in competition with the church down the street or across town. We are serving God where He planted us. Sometimes that means smoke machines and light shows, and sometimes it means cardboard and paint. But I can guarantee you this—regardless of our efforts, when a precious soul responds to the gospel, that’s when heaven rejoices.