Roger Shouse on VBS

Psalm 32:11 “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, your righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”

We are running our VBS this week. Last night was the first night. I thought of this verse as I saw all the energy of those kids. Smiling faces, excited and singing to their fullest. What an amazing job our folks did in bringing alive the burning bush and having a “real” Moses. Then to close with those great VBS songs, such as my favorite, Roll the Gospel Chariot. Great memories. These are the things that will stick in the kids minds for years and years. It was great seeing so many kids.

It is those kind of impressions that stick and can make a difference years later. Many of us can remember the impressions of a VBS years ago. For some of the children that came, especially from the neighborhood, it may be one of the few times they will ever truly hear a Bible story told accurately with application. God bless those teachers that pour their hearts into teaching events such as these.

Impressions—they are formed as a child and they can be the thing that years later keeps one close to the Lord. I have met many, many people who remember as a child worshipping God but something happened down the road and they quit. Sometimes it was family issues. Sometimes it was the person going off to college and they felt too intellectual to be going to church services. So they quit. They grew up, started a career, got married, had kids. As they watched their kids grow, they saw something missing in those young lives. These grown people remembered in their past going to church, or attending a VBS, they remembered those passionate teachers, and the great fun they had singing and learning about Jesus. They realize that their children are missing that. Something sparks a desire to check out a place.

Impressions. Some think back and can remember the first preacher in their life. He spoke to them. He bent over and shook their hand and made over how they looked. Maybe he pulled a piece of candy out of his pocket and gave it to them. They remember his kindness even though he seemed a hundred years old.

Impressions. Some can remember sitting with mom and dad during church services, singing and praying together. Years later, mom and dad have passed on, but those are pleasant and good memories.

It is so important that we see beyond ourselves as we worship God. First and foremost, worship is about God. Those that do not get that, have turned the church into a circus. They fail to realize, from lessons such as Cain and Abel that God not only may reject a worship, that very worship may insult God and injure our relationship with Him. Some congregations have spent too long fussy among themselves, arguing about things that really do not matter and leaving the impression upon others of stale, stuffy and mean people. Those lasting thoughts affect people years and years later. They may be the reason some quit and never come back to God.

As our verse today brings out, there ought to be an excitement, a joy and a passion about God. It fills our worship. It is how we sing, pray and praise God. The energy is not just emotionalism, rather it is a heart that believes, loves and wants to honor God. Lifeless singing, dead preaching, tired prayers, sleepy worship services spell boring. Those impressions are remembered. Put thought into what you are doing. Practice. Give God your best. What we are doing carries on longer than just that one service. We are making impressions. There are times in which a worship service can become a lifelong and life remembering impression. When a member passes away suddenly and a congregation changes the “normal” schedule of classes and devotes the time to recognizing the shortness of life, the everlasting nature of the soul, the goodness of God, the lessons from the valleys, people remember. The sorrow they feel can be used to honor a God who loves us. Impressions.

We must see beyond the “do worship and we are done” mentality. We are honoring God and we are making memories and leaving impressions. Those that lead in worship must think about that. Care and effort must be given to what they are doing. The rest who participate, you leave impressions. Years later, the kids grown up, will remember the guy who always slept or the lady who sang so loud, or the old guy who always patted them on the head and smiled, or the kind elder who high-fived them. Good memories. Lasting impressions.

Several years ago I returned to the church building I grew up in. It was the first place I ever gave a lesson. I was back to preach. I went to the basement where I had so many Bible classes as a child. The basement seemed so small as an adult. But walking down that hallway was a walk down memory lane. I thought about all the kids that were in my Bible classes. Some of them are walking mightily with the Lord today. A few are serving as shepherds in congregations. Some dropped out and I have no idea where they are. Some show up now and then when I preach and it’s great to see them again.

Impressions. You make them and leave them for others. Don’t be the one who is remembered as being grumpy all the time. Don’t be the one who never has a smile on his face. Take time for the little ones. Get to know their names. Make a big deal about them. They may come to you when they are a teenager, and want your advice. They may drift away, but the memory of you and of worship and of what they learned about God may lead them to walking back into a church building some Sunday. Look for those folks. They show up all the time. They are a little scared. They have a memory that was pleasant and they are hoping that they can rekindle some of that once again. Something is missing and they remember having it as a child. Be kind to the visitor. Don’t fuss over how they are dressed. Be thankful that they even showed up. College towns especially deal with this. Sunday morning and here shows up a kid with messy hair, wrinkled clothes, but a heart that is looking for Jesus. Something somewhere caused him to show up. Make a great impression. That can make it or break it with him. The atmosphere, the singing, the sermon, the warmth—all leave impressions. Don’t be so focused upon “us” that we forget about “them.” Them, being the visitor. Them, being the one who came with a heart full of great memories and a desire to find a loving congregation.

VBS—it’s more than just now, it’s a later thing as well. We are making impressions. If you are in the area, drop in and check out how our folks do it. They are amazing. It’s great to see a congregation pour their hearts into something like this. They are teaching. They are making impressions. It’s awesome.                                                             


Those who walk with God always reach their destination.

Make each new morning the opening door to a better day than the one before.

Life is learning how to live victoriously in times of trouble.

Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.