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Column: Vacation Bible School, church music sure have changed since I was a young’un
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

For many years in this space, I have expressed my displeasure in the pre-packaged Vacation Bible School.

A few days ago, I was driving through rural Georgia around 6:30 p.m. and I passed a small church. It was one of those red brick churches that looked like it was built in the 1950s. Atop the building was a steeple. 

On the front walkway, there were about 40 kids who were lined up to march in. I haven’t seen a VBS marching line in years. It made my heart feel good. 

Marching does not make you a better person or a better Christian, but it’s the way I remember Bible school over 50 years ago. That makes me feel old.

I guess kids today have a shorter attention span than we did. You have to have something moving and flashy to keep them engaged. 

I was in a church Sunday and the preacher reminded us that there are some people who like things the way they were in church years ago. He said that the people who like contemporary worship, which includes him, will share the attitude of dinosaurs like me. I still like the great old hymns. They have beautiful poetry and reverence. 

There are some verses that I like from the King James Bible. It doesn’t matter that King Jim has been gone for 400 years, I still like parts of it.

But the young preacher reminded us that the bottom line was the worship of the Lord and leading others to it.

I’ve known this guy for a long time. He is my nephew. It was 38 years ago this week that I held him in my arms. I’m glad neither of us wanted to re-enact that.

I remember learning about how God made and loves all the animals. We made birdhouses. My dad cut them out and we nailed them together at Bible school.

One year, we learned about Joseph and his coat of many colors. A lady brought her portable sewing machine and sewed strips of cloth together for our coats of

many colors. They were more of a vest of many colors but I remember it well.

At snack time, we had butter cookies with a hole in the middle. We put them on our pinkies and had a contest to see who could take the most bites without the cookie falling off your finger. Out of sight from our teachers. We would take a tiny bite and show it to the others by opening our mouths. You can’t get that in a kit.

If searching for Jesus in a spaceship, submarine or a worn-out Edsel helps teach kids about him, then let it be. 

If songs about Jesus that sound like you're singing about your boyfriend is your cup of sparkling water, then sing on.

As for me, I’ll be down the hall with the rest of my old tribe singing the great hymns and listening to God’s Word. If your kids want to come, tell them it’s Jurassic Church. A room full of dinosaurs.


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.