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Wow. I just read some of the comments about churches with bouncy houses, go carts, etc...some of them every day! The church we attended for VBS that threw a carnival on the last night was a HUGE church that could afford to do that, but we weren't charged. And still, there wasn't that kind of activity every single day. My church would do an ice-cream social on the last night, so not very expensive (just the ice cream and different toppings to choose from). And still, this was not every single day. We do the curriculum in a box, usually from Lifeway, although this year they did the High Seas that someone mentioned. But still, they are paying for themed lesson plans, but not bouncy houses and rock climbing walls! Each day, or night, the children would rotate through snack, music, crafts, p.e., bible lessons, etc. There would also be a big group time (at the beginning and the end) with everyone in the sanctuary. The focus has not been on crazy extracurriculars, but on learning bible verses, learning the pledges, talking about missions, learning the songs and movements, and on having fellowship with others. And most importantly, on learning that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that He rose again and is always with us. Honestly, that is what I want for my children...not bouncy houses...

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Wow. I just read some of the comments about churches with bouncy houses, go carts, etc...some of them every day! The church we attended for VBS that threw a carnival on the last night was a HUGE church that could afford to do that, but we weren't charged. And still, there wasn't that kind of activity every single day. My church would do an ice-cream social on the last night, so not very expensive (just the ice cream and different toppings to choose from). And still, this was not every single day. We do the curriculum in a box, usually from Lifeway, although this year they did the High Seas that someone mentioned. But still, they are paying for themed lesson plans, but not bouncy houses and rock climbing walls! Each day, or night, the children would rotate through snack, music, crafts, p.e., bible lessons, etc. There would also be a big group time (at the beginning and the end) with everyone in the sanctuary. The focus has not been on crazy extracurriculars, but on learning bible verses, learning the pledges, talking about missions, learning the songs and movements, and on having fellowship with others. And most importantly, on learning that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that He rose again and is always with us. Honestly, that is what I want for my children...not bouncy houses...

 

:iagree:

 

Maybe these churches charge because it is really more like daycare option instead of VBS? I don't know. I don't get it.

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:iagree:

 

Maybe these churches charge because it is really more like daycare option instead of VBS? I don't know. I don't get it.

 

:iagree:

 

I don't get it either! I mean, then call it what it is, but it's not VBS! :confused: My daughter has attended things at other churches, like a music camp, that did have a charge. BUT, it was not VBS. It sounds like these churches are offering some kind of day camp, but that is not the same. And, I'm not saying that there isn't a place for this, because there is. But, it really shouldn't take the place of ministering to children with parents that cannot afford the luxury of a religious day camp! Our church went door-to-door, through some of the worst areas, trying to get children into VBS. Often, the selling point to the parents was #1 -It's free and #2 -We'll feed them. That may seem sad, but it's a reality. But still, those children deserve the chance to hear about Jesus.

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I voted yes, because back when they did hold it, they charged a minimal fee ($5). We don't have it anymore.

 

I think the difference is purpose. If the purpose is evangelization of children, then it should be free. If the purpose is to do a fun learning activity for the children of the church, then I don't have a problem with a small fee.

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I wonder if it has to do with how populated the area is. I have heard of daycare centers and families dropping their kids off at VBS's all around the metro area. Maybe the churches were getting overwhelmed? Charging a fee would certainly curtail that, but I do see what some of you mean about it being an outreach.

 

At the time, the only reason I was really annoyed is because my church did not say upfront that there was a charge and I told all my kids they could go and THEN found out it would cost me $100, plus gas, plus I volunteered for the whole week. :glare:

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I think in the case of the camp DS is attending, it's to help keep track of campers. There are over 900 campers in attendance. Each age group has a different brightly-colored shirt and it helps the counselors know which kids should be where when.

I can see where this would be helpful. It would seem to me, though, that the church could budget for this. If you were to order over 900 t shirts, you could get them really cheap, even if you ordered several different colors.

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I voted other b/c our church does not charge for VBS itself, but does charge $6 each for t-shirts which are "optional". I put optional in quotes because the last night of VBS they do a musical presentation that the kids perform and they expect the kids to wear the t-shirts; my kids would feel bad if they were the only ones with out *the* t-shirt up in front of everyone, so to me that ins't really "optional".

 

I don't really like the idea of the kids spending VBS time learning to perform in a muscial. Nothing against them, my kid are both in children's choir and DD did a musical theater camp this summer. I just think that Vacation *BIBLE* School ought to be spent learning about the Bible and what it says about Jeus, you know?

 

They also do a carnival after the musical where the kids get to spend tickets they earned during the week. You can buy more tickets and they sell 'carnival food' (hot dogs, nachos, frito pie, etc.) for a nominal charge.

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Ours doesn't charge but it requests a $5 donation per child. Nobody keeps track of who pays and who doesn't. I would be very offended if I saw a church charging for VBS. We send in the donation, so it's not that we don't have the money, but VBS should be something to bring kids and families who haven't been exposed to church into the church, and IMO, charging leaves a bad taste and is not welcoming. I agree with some of the others- if you want to charge for it and treat it like a camp, call it something else! The $5 donation doesn't bother me, but a fee that would require you to discuss your situation with someone in charge to get a scholarship or waiver is offensive for what has been a traditional outreach program. None of the churches around here charge either. Our church does have a day camp in the summer too, and we probably charge typical camp rates, but that is very different.

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Evidently.

 

When I was a kid, VBS was Bible stories, crafts, a cheap snack, and songs. It was enough! No canned music, no bought programs. Our nation is in a severe recession and this materialism/commericialism surrounding VBS really bothers me.

 

Totally! I am reading The Divine Commodity and it is blowing. my. mind. It's one of the best modern books about Christianity I have ever read, and this comment makes me think you might like to read it too! :)

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I'm wondering if I just crawled out of a hole :) because until very recently I've never heard of a VBS being something with a fee. I've heard of "church day camps" charging but I thought a VBS was a free ministry of the church. It's extremely possible that I'm 'out of the loop', so I thought I'd put the question out there!

 

Yes, we started charging a small fee a couple years ago as a way to keep down expenses. It's $10 per child, with a $25 max per family. It's free to people who don't go to a church regularly or to families for whom that is a stretch financially.

 

We would prefer not to do it, but it's less than a family trip to McDonald's for 15 hours of fun, crafts, snacks, etc. The $10 fee does not cover expenses, just helps with them.

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In this area, many working parents use VBS as daycare. It is not unusual to hear mothers openly talking about putting their children in a different VBS each and every week, "because it cuts down on daycare costs." Most around here now charge.

I am not sure about our own church, as - well, as others have pointed out - I have a huge issue with the consumerism around VBS. :tongue_smilie: I avoid VBS as much as possible!

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My children attend VBS at our church and at my MIL's church. There is a fee but I have no problem with paying it. At my MIL's church, there is a different theme every year but no canned programs. For the first few years, it was called the Jerusalem marketplace with lessons, crafts etc all guided towards the time period when Jesus was a boy. Last year, it was Paul and the Underground Church with lessons about Ancient Rome. This year, they did ancient Egypt and the Joseph story. What they learn is worth every penny and it is the highlight of their summer.

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We do not charge any fees for our VBS. We provide a light meal, craft supplies, and transportation. We meet for three hours a day for five days. I invited a good friend's child to come stay with us for the week (they live in another state) and my friend asked me how much it cost. I was shocked! She told me that all of the churches in her community charge a fee for VBS. I was totally floored. For us, it is an outreach that we work all year to prepare and provide for.

 

When I opened this thread I expected all the replies to be no. I am floored as well.

 

I have never in my life heard of a church charging for VBS. I am shocked. I don't really get what is so expensive that it would cost $50+ per kid? If the workers are all volunteers and you do dinky snacks and arts and crafts, is it really that expensive? Are these churches that are charging ones with really low budgets?

 

I've never heard of this either and I, too, and shocked.

 

We do VBS at night so the parents can come. We offer a free t-shirt, crafts every night, and a snack usually brought by the teachers. We also have a picnic on Saturday to close out the week. The church provides the main dish (chicken breasts, brats, burgers, or hot dogs on a large outside grill) and the church ladies bring a salad and dessert.

 

Our church is located in a predominately hispanic neighborhood, kind of lower to average middle class. I can't imagine charging a fee for these families to participate.

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Yes ($10), but there are scholarships for those that need it. I think it accomplishes two things...1) it helps pays for supplies and 2) it keeps the VBS from becoming a babysitting service (there are those the send their child to EVERY church VBS in their area to "get rid of the kids" :( Unfortunately, some of these families end up complaining when their kid decides to become something other than the parents are (uhm, duh moment!). The family across from me has complained about how one kid was invited to stay half the week and they are trying very hard to convert them from their Catholic faith, every week with a family from a particular "cult" group that keeps coming to pick up a bunch of kids from our block. Then WHY are they sending the kids there?! Well, because "it's something for them to do" and they come pick up the kids. :mad: I keep my door closed and I think the people know to stay away from us. I have a feeling they know who we are though as we have in-laws in this cult-group (and yes, I call it a cult with good reasoning).

Edited by mommaduck
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Totally! I am reading The Divine Commodity and it is blowing. my. mind. It's one of the best modern books about Christianity I have ever read, and this comment makes me think you might like to read it too! :)
oh I am sooooooooo jealous!!!! I've wanted to read that book for months but NO ONE in our state has that book yet!!!! I love anything Skye writes/says....he gave an awesome sermon at Mars Hill a few weeks ago. Glad to hear the book is so good. Maybe I can find a cheap used copy on Amazon eventually :tongue_smilie:
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it keeps the VBS from becoming a babysitting service (there are those the send their child to EVERY church VBS in their area to "get rid of the kids" :( Unfortunately, some of these families end up complaining when their kid decides to become something other than the parents are (uhm, duh moment!). The family across from me has complained about how one kid was invited to stay half the week and they are trying very hard to convert them from their Catholic faith, every week with a family from a particular "cult" group that keeps coming to pick up a bunch of kids from our block. Then WHY are they sending the kids there?! Well, because "it's something for them to do" and they come pick up the kids.

 

I don't see this as a valid reason at all. I know it's hard on the volunteers to be inundated with kids, and to feel like they are being taken advantage of. But really!!! We are called to lay down our lives for people. If that means that we are treated as a free babysitting service then bring it on!!! Instead of focusing on the laziness/irresponsibility of the parents, be glad that you are able to influence so many kids!!!! How great that you are able to provide an alternative point of view to kids who might not otherwise get it.

 

It is an absolute disgrace to Jesus if churches are using money to discourage kids from coming to hear about him. It's one thing if their priorities are misplaced and think $$$$ for flashy versions of telling God's awesome story is what is needed. But it is an entirely different situation if churches are choosing to charge admission to keep out the unwanteds.

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Nope. Our church pays for everything.

 

We have a very small church..50 people at an average service.

 

Our VBS brings in 15 - 30 kids. We view this as a ministry..our main goal is to get these kids the gospel. Just the stuff for the "store" alone costs $200 - $300. Then there's the curriculum, supplies, arts/crafts supplies, snacks, T shirts, decorations/scenery, etc....

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No, we cut the church budget in other places and have fundraisers to keep VBS and the community Easter Egg hunt free as an outreach program. T-shirts are extra but we work very hard to keep VBS free.

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I don't see this as a valid reason at all. I know it's hard on the volunteers to be inundated with kids, and to feel like they are being taken advantage of. But really!!! We are called to lay down our lives for people. If that means that we are treated as a free babysitting service then bring it on!!! Instead of focusing on the laziness/irresponsibility of the parents, be glad that you are able to influence so many kids!!!! How great that you are able to provide an alternative point of view to kids who might not otherwise get it.

 

It is an absolute disgrace to Jesus if churches are using money to discourage kids from coming to hear about him. It's one thing if their priorities are misplaced and think $$$$ for flashy versions of telling God's awesome story is what is needed. But it is an entirely different situation if churches are choosing to charge admission to keep out the unwanteds.

It isn't to "keep out the unwanteds" (and you have no idea the amount of city ministry we, as a family have been involved in, or the amount of ministry our church has been involved in in this particular city, so the accusation is unnecessary). Ministry should be towards the whole family, not something that is built in such a way that causes conflict within a family. As a former "bus kid" :glare: I can fully see the wisdom in this. The cult group that comes in is known to intentionally divide families, the kids they are "witnessing" to will always be "second class" in that church for a variety of reasons. Though that group may "take the kids away" for a bit, but they aren't there for the hard stuff. When it comes to assisting with food and unpaid bills, our church has helped those neighbours. When it's come to being there to give rides, to offer compassion and support during horrible life experiences, and even giving away a vehicle, we have been the ones there, not that group.

 

You want to talk about "the unwanteds"...I was one, my neighbours are those people, and my husband used to go into even worse places as part of a group that made it their intent to find out what needs there were and help meet them, both amoung the ghettos and the homeless. Please don't EVER accuse us or our church of trying to keep out "unwanteds".

Edited by mommaduck
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We do not charge any fees for our VBS. We provide a light meal, craft supplies, and transportation. We meet for three hours a day for five days. I invited a good friend's child to come stay with us for the week (they live in another state) and my friend asked me how much it cost. I was shocked! She told me that all of the churches in her community charge a fee for VBS. I was totally floored. For us, it is an outreach that we work all year to prepare and provide for.

 

 

Most of the VBSs in our community also charge, although there are several that do not. We sent our son to a free one near our neighborhood.

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In the past, our church has had a committee of curriculum writers that created VBS materials, but for the past two years, we've used curriculum from AiG. It's been fabulous, even if it was more expensive than the "home made" materials. We have wonderful craft ladies who create the crafts and the word is put out for donations of whatever's needed. Cookies, fruit, etc are donated from members of the congregation. For games and activities, we have a PE teacher who comes and brings all sorts of equipment: balls, scooters, cones, goals, parachute, etc. All the decorations and sets are created by the youth. On the last day, there's a closing program for the parents with a carnival. All the games are created by the youth. One family brings a snow cone machine and donates the ice and syrup. Other people bring tons of cookies.

 

It's really a lot of fun, everyone pitches in, it's not super-fancy and yet every year we have more kids who come, and every year several new families start to come to our church. It's a great formula and so far, there's been no need to charge for this.

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Yup, we charge although it is only $10 per kid, $25 for grades 5 & 6. Our church is another one though that has bouncy houses, pony rides and a full carnival/BBQ, so the funds help defray the cost of activities. I often wish it wasn't such a huge deal, but all the VBS's around here seem to be the same way, and they all charge a fee.

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I don't really like the idea of the kids spending VBS time learning to perform in a muscial. Nothing against them, my kid are both in children's choir and DD did a musical theater camp this summer. I just think that Vacation *BIBLE* School ought to be spent learning about the Bible and what it says about Jeus, you know?

 

 

 

Don't know if this was said because I mentioned a musical or if musicals were mentioned somewhere I missed. Just wanted to clarify my post- we are NOT having a VBS this year at all, but we are having a music camp. Totally different.

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I voted "other." My current church does not charge, but we only have 50-60 kids. At my old church, we would have close to 300 kids. We had to charge about $10. Of course, we would have never rejected someone if they couldn't pay, but putting on VBS for 300 kids gets quite expensive.

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My children attend VBS at our church and at my MIL's church. There is a fee but I have no problem with paying it. At my MIL's church, there is a different theme every year but no canned programs. For the first few years, it was called the Jerusalem marketplace with lessons, crafts etc all guided towards the time period when Jesus was a boy. Last year, it was Paul and the Underground Church with lessons about Ancient Rome. This year, they did ancient Egypt and the Joseph story. What they learn is worth every penny and it is the highlight of their summer.

 

Actually, all of those are "canned" VBS programs published by Group. Their stuff is always good, though.

 

 

Personally, if my church charged for VBS, I seriously doubt I'd even send *my* kids. I firmly believe it should be free. If I couldn't afford to give anything and I wasn't a member of the church, even asking for donations would be enough to make me uncomfortable. I'd "know" I didn't have to give, but I'd feel bad if I didn't.

 

IMO, if your VBS is so expensive that you feel like you have to charge, the church is spending too much money on it. I'm not too crazy about how so many churches seem to be trying to do the biggest, flashiest VBS. I don't mind having fun, but you do come to the point of diminishing returns. If a church is blowing its budget, over-stressing its volunteers, and giving kids so much flash that Jesus gets lost between the bounce houses and the snow cones, I think it has reached that point.

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Wow, I'd never heard of churches charging for VBS.... we do have a donations jar out but it goes for the "mission of the week", not to our programming. In the various places we've lived, we've been members of Lutheran and United Methodist churches, mostly small, and have NEVER seen anyone charged to attend VBS.

 

We currently go to an United Methodist Church. VBS is a ministry of the church, and an outreach to our community. It is in the church budget. We buy a "canned" curriculum but enhance it, and don't buy everything that goes with it. The focus is on teaching about our faith. We don't provide dinner but do provide snacks. I'm just in shock that there are churches that charge for VBS... some of the programs sound more like camp than VBS but that's a whole different thread, imo.....

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For years we went to one that was $25, with a T-shirt, worship CD, themed snacks, huge VBS (600 kids).

 

This year, due to budget constraints in the family we went to one that was free. They liked it better overall. Know why? They memorized Bible verses, and had water gun fights for fun. Go figure. Good old fashioned VBS.

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Our church charges 35 for each child. And I'm pretty sure that doesn't even begin to cover the costs involved. Nearly 2000 kids come every summer and if it were free, you'd see so many the church wouldn't even know what to do with them. Highly populated area. I know there is a good argument you could make for this being an outreach... but an outreach to children, specifically (without their parents present) requires alot of supervision, planning, hard work... and money (when dealing with large numbers). If 2000 families showed up, well, by all means bring them on into the grassy lawn and start using a microphone! You could make it work! But with 2000 kids, without the parents, it gets really really tricky. There are insurance considerations and legal requirements (ratios) and many of these families would be using it for free childcare. Even if a church charged 100 for the week, it would still be a bargain compared the going childcare rate around here. So I'm hesitant to judge our church of charging. I get why they feel the need. It also helps to get a more accurate number of who is actually coming. When people pay, they are more likely to show up. :)

 

Even after all that rationalization, just paying for my 2 kids took a lot of budget juggling. And I could have asked for a scholarship... I'm sure they accommodate if needed. I just felt it was worth saving and scrimping for. If I'm willing to save and scrimp for school supplies and academic books... well, isn't this worth throwing money at too? If I'm looking for the perfect, easy, engaging and fun Latin program for my kids during the school year, and I'm willing to pay for it... shouldn't I see this VBS material as a form of supplemental education? (Obviously not the only introduction to the salvation message, but from a different perspective (not a mom!) and with so much creativity and energy?) Isn't that worth paying something for, if I can manage it?

 

I don't know. I'm just blabbing. I wish it could still be free. I think in smaller towns, with smaller congregations and a smaller pool of children to pull from, the volunteers could manage on their own (with much courage and prayer!). Make all the snacks, prepare all the crafts, etc., etc. I just don't know how they would manage it here, in such a big city without charging. And I do SO love the VBS message.

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Yes. $15 per child with family cap of $40, includes music CD but no t-shirt. We generally ask families to pay about half the cost of the programs we offer. The other half is paid for out of the general parish budget. We do the same for Sunday School and 1st Confession/Communion preparation. A small amount of monetary investment usually encourages to show up regularly because they paid for it and want to get their money's worth, even though it's a small amount of money. :) Free everything often leads to a lack of repsect for the hard work others put into the programs.

 

But of course, if someone asks for a waiver for financial hardship or if they volunteer in a leadership role for VBS/RE, then tuition is waived, no problem.

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Don't know if this was said because I mentioned a musical or if musicals were mentioned somewhere I missed. Just wanted to clarify my post- we are NOT having a VBS this year at all, but we are having a music camp. Totally different.

 

Every year, growing up, we learned stuff in VBS to do the last day, for the parents. Kids LOVE getting up in front of their parents and showing off.

 

This is totally legitimate, IMNSHO

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In this area, many working parents use VBS as daycare. It is not unusual to hear mothers openly talking about putting their children in a different VBS each and every week, "because it cuts down on daycare costs." Most around here now charge.

I am not sure about our own church, as - well, as others have pointed out - I have a huge issue with the consumerism around VBS. :tongue_smilie: I avoid VBS as much as possible!

 

 

Heard this awhile ago too...some people hit every church in the county, and, as you said, 'get free daycare' almost all summer, at least for a few hours! And I get the consumerism too...the canned programs are almost like home-school out-of-the-box curricula. Is it really VBS if you just use a canned program? <obtuse reference to the other thread regarding 'homeschooling versus PS at home - trying to be funny>.

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No churches charge around here.

My girls have attended 5 different VBS programs already this summer.

 

Only one had t-shirts and those were given to them for free.

 

BTW we live in a pretty small town (12,000 population). I have noticed the start of fees in larger towns-but that could just be my observation. :)

 

:thumbup: VBS.

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The one my children used to go to did charge $99 PEr child. BUT it was a full day program that included daily fieldtrips. They are attending their 2nd one already this summer and both have been free, the one next week is too. The difference is all of these ones are only 3 hours long, no fieldtrips.

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I have NEVER heard of charging for VBS!! I am appalled. Absolutely appalled.

 

IMO if the church cannot afford to do VBS without charging they should not have it. If it is not in the church budget and they really want to have it they should fundraise for it.

 

VBS has always been an outreach. If that is no longer the case, RENAME it.

 

Unbelievable.

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Fee is $14 per volunteer - dd14 is volunteering this year. I think that is for the T-shirt they wear, and some snacks.

 

He had to pay to volunteer????????????????????????? Wow!

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I always thought the Gospel was supposed to be given freely.

 

Charging a fee makes it daycare. Or daycare with a uniform.

 

JMO. Throw tomatoes if you will, but I think it's a bad practice.

 

ETA: I understand that there are costs involved. But I expect that a portion of my regular giving (and that of other church members) is dedicated to this annual program.

Edited by AuntieM
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IVBS has always been an outreach. If that is no longer the case, RENAME it.

 

Ours is definitely not an outreach program. There are nowhere near enough spaces to cover even the kids enrolled in CCE and the parish school, let alone kids who don't belong to the parish. It's just a fun summer activity while CCE is over for the year.

 

ETA: I don't think they'll rename it, the VBS concept existed for too long before Catholic parishes picked it up. I think they offer it so that parents aren't pressured to send their kids to Protestant churches because VBS is so common and kids want to do what their friends do.

Edited by chiguirre
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Ours is definitely not an outreach program. There are nowhere near enough spaces to cover even the kids enrolled in CCE and the parish school, let alone kids who don't belong to the parish. It's just a fun summer activity while CCE is over for the year.

 

ETA: I don't think they'll rename it, the VBS concept existed for too long before Catholic parishes picked it up. I think they offer it so that parents aren't pressured to send their kids to Protestant churches because VBS is so common and kids want to do what their friends do.

Ditto (only Orthodox).

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Our church charged $15 per child...no t-shirt and no discount for being a teacher.

 

Same program at another church is $20.

 

Church up the road is $30 a child.

 

My oldest is 12....and it it doesn't matter whether the church is Protestant or Catholic....they have always charged.

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Our church charges $30/child, and it includes the t-shirt. I've sent my kids a couple of times, but it was really stretching my budget to do it, and the last two years I just said forget it. I don't think it necessarily has to be free, but I think $10 would be a lot more reasonable. I don't know if other churches in the area charge (ours is a Catholic church).

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When I was a kid, VBS was Bible stories, crafts, a cheap snack, and songs. It was enough!

 

That is how ours is every year. We are in the middle of ours this week and we have had a huge turnout (I live in a small town) of 100 kids. We do have a fun band of teenage church members. It's been a blast! And we just do a small snack, water balloon games, a story and a craft (popsicle sticks and foam stickie-type things).

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