Upstreet Underground


Summertime…sweet, wonderful summertime. Some things immediately come to mind when you hear that word….ice cream, swimming, cookouts, baseball etc., the list goes on and on. If you go to church regularly, chance’s are your list will eventually include a standard staple of summer church programming…Vacation Bible School.
Unless you started going to church after high school, chances are good you’ve attended VBS somewhere. Either your own church held one (if you attended church), or your parents dropped you off at one close to your home. (Or more than one, ’cause it was 5 hours of parental freedom!) You probably still have fond memories of those 4 or 5 days a year even now.
Well, guess what….I loved Bible school. I admit it…I enjoyed the music and the crafts and the hangin’ out with my friends. I liked the fact that, for at least a week, learning about Jesus was, well, fun! I wouldn’t tell you that then, of course, cause all my cool points would fly out the window. But I really did enjoy it.
I grew up Methodist and for a long time I just thought VBS was a Methodist deal, like reciting the Doxology every Sunday. It wasn’t until I was older, and driving I’m sure, that I began to realize that within a mile or two of my house there was about 6 vacation Bible schools being advertised. They were scheduled at different times…some at night, some in the morning, and almost all were on different weeks of the summer. Oh, and they weren’t just Methodist.
Now, drive around today and the numbers of VBS’s are amazing. If kids want to go to VBS, or parents want their kids to atttend VBS, there is no limit to the choices. “Hit The Trail”, “WipeOut”, “Surfin’ Safari”…the themes are varied as the churches themselves. And kids still love them…including mine. My two oldest kids will attend at least 2 different VBS events this summer. They start with my mother-in-laws church, which they are are doing right now, then move on to my parents church later next month. Again, they love it.
So, now for the million dollar question. If I loved them…and my kids love them…and most adults have such wonderful memories of them…and kids often get saved at them…then WHY IN THE WORLD DOESN”T MOUNTAIN GROVE DO THEM??? Well, quite simply, it doesn’t fit, and honestly, not necessary.
The history of Bible schools goes back to 1860, but the “modern-day” version traces to 1898 when a church leader in New York launched the idea as a way to keep poor and homeless kids off the streets for a little while each day while public schools were out. From there it grew into the version we have today….setting aside one week each year to focus entirely on kids. Little by little a common layout emerged for VBS…kid specific music for worship, and small groups of focused lesson/activities that tie into a large group lesson that attempts to show kids how 2000 year old scriptures are relevant in their lives today. Wait…what? That sounds very familiar??
About 3 years ago, Mountain Grove set out to change the thinking about kids and church. Instead of doing the minimal on Sunday to reach the hearts of kids, we would go overboard! We would turn Sunday mornings into events! We wanted church to be as exciting as any party the kids might attend the rest of the week. Ultimately UpStreet, was born out of this desire, and the choice to utilize a curriculum that maximized that thinking. Instead of 5 days of focused effort on kids….we chose to focus that effort 52 days a year. Or 10x the number of Bible schools.
If you aren’t familiar with the curriculum’s we here and explore 252 Basics.Every Sunday in UpStreet, our kids experience; kid specific music for worship, small groups of focused lesson/activities that tie into a large group lesson that attempts to show kids how 2000 year old scriptures are relevant in their lives today. The exact formula of virtually every Bible school program.
Since so many VBS events will take place elsewhere, we have chosen to abstain. Am I, or Mountain Grove, against vacation Bible school? Of course not. Am I bothered by that? No. Am I embarrassed that “a church our size” doesn’t offer VBS? Absolutely not. But for the purposes that we are focused, and with our current limited resources (fiscal and physical) vacation Bible school is not a priority. As the children’s pastor I welcome any and all questions or comments anyone may have on this (or any) topic you may have. I can be reached through the church office, or through email or find me in UpStreet any Sunday morning.

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