Upon exiting the church last night after VBS, we were treated to a remarkable mix of colors in the sky as the sun set. Jess tells me that I am obsessed with taking pictures of the sky. I have always been fascinated by sunsets and the vast expanse of sky over the farms of central Illinois serve well to further foster this fascination. Here are a few pictures from last night.
Tonight will be the last night of regular programming for Vacation Bible School since Friday night is the night for the parents to come and enjoy a cookout with their children and the VBS workers. As a result, we will have some type of invitation for the children in closing service tonight. I am still thinking through what exactly that invitation will look like (which is part of the reason I am writing about it now; I tend to think more clearly when I write out what I am thinking). There are a couple of challenges for me in a time of invitation like this one. The first is just trying to speak to children in a way that they will understand. This is a real challenge for me since I have so little experience speaking to kids, especially in large groups, and I really don't have much of a clue about how to communicate in a way that will make sense to them.
The second challenge will be the nature of the invitation itself and connecting it to the worshipping life of our church community (or at least some church community here in town, if the child's family already attends somewhere else). In other words, it would be all to easy to have an altar call where the kids who want to come to the altar, pray a prayer and that is the end of it. Instead, I hope to emphasize to the children that any decision that they make tonight is only the beginning of a very long journey. I want them to understand (again, without making things too complicated) that this decision that they make is not just a one time thing. If they really want to journey with Jesus and love God and serve others as they have been learning about over the past week, then it means becoming a part of the community that lives and teaches those things. Of course, this is not really a decision these children can make on their own and so it will mean speaking to their parents about the experience that their child has had and encouraging them to come to church or at least allowing our vans to pick them up. I truly hope that the time of invitation tonight can be more than a prayer soon forgotten. I hope that it can be a prayer that becomes a way of life for these children.