Choosing the theme is the easy part.
Every year our team gathers with children’s pastors, VBS leaders, and volunteers like you to talk VBS themes. We show “Pinterest-y” boards of ideas, talk about which themes kids would like best, and tell all the ways to bring a fun setting to life. You buzz and bubble, exploring what a certain theme might look like in each person’s church.
Decorations, clever word play, thematic buddies…that’s a cinch.
Then we ask, “What are your kids facing? What are the kids in your church struggling with? What worries you about this generation?”
Hearts open. Eyes well up. You share stories, lives, heartbreaking events that have rocked your church and community. This is what matters most at VBS. The faith emphasis that kids explore during those five days will have lasting, transforming power long after the decorations have come down.
Here’s what we heard in our conversations with you:
“Kids are overwhelmed.”
“The kids in my church feel so much pressure to do and succeed and be.”
“We’ve had suicidal preteens in our church. They feel inadequate and hopeless.”
Our kids are being fed a big lie these days—one that sounds positive and affirming and empowering:
“You can do it if you try hard.”
“You can be good enough.”
All of this emphasis on “you” is having serious side effects. A professor at San Diego State University recently analyzed mental health in young people. Her findings pointed to a disturbing trend: Between 2005 and 2017, young people reported a significant rise in psychological distress, major depression, and suicide. This confirms findings in similar studies by the American Psychological Association and the American College Health Association.
Kids can’t be and do and succeed and achieve everything on their own.
They need Jesus.
In some of Jesus’ last words to his closest friends, he encouraged them with this:
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The Apostle Paul understood his need for Jesus’ power, when Christ told him:
“ ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Jesus knew the challenges and hardships his friends would face. He understood the pressure and the temptation to give up when things seemed overwhelming. And so he assured them that it was his power that would produce fruit. The pressure wasn’t on them to do it all…but on Jesus’ power in them.
That’s why Rocky Railway VBS focuses on Jesus’ power in our lives. Connected to Jesus, we can tackle life’s hardships and hurts. With Jesus’ power, we can find hope and healing, friendship and fulfillment.
Our prayer is that your kids find renewed joy, peace, and true empowerment as they realize their need for Jesus’ power to accomplish all that life holds.