God Bless VBS Songs

by Meredith Storrs
My car speakers are on a regular loop this week that includes “Jesus is our Guide,” “He is The Light,” and “I’m Trusting You,” a song that opens with a growling lion and monumental drumbeat. While 20-something me would have rolled her eyes in musical elitist disdain, I could not be happier to learn the dance moves and sing along with my children about how God makes a way in the wilderness.

I added this year’s Cornerstone Kids Camp songs to a Spotify playlist I created after VBS 2019—enhanced of course with some Newsboys, 90s worship jams, and half the DC Talk Jesus Freak album because, well, necessary. The line between music quality and the rosy glasses of nostalgia has completely blurred for me, and I have no shame.

I was raised in the Bible Belt, although to be fair, I did not actually grow up on an exclusive diet of CCM. In fact, I only recently learned that this is an insider acronym for “Contemporary Christian Music” thanks to Twitter. My parents are both musicians, and my dad produced music for several country artists, so most of my CD collection was Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, and all their other friends in low places. I did, however, attend Christian summer camp and youth conferences, where we sang “Friends are Friends Forever” and “I Can Only Imagine” until our eyes were all red and our hearts full. I was the banner youth group kid in a town where we spent more time discussing which kind of Christian you were than whether or not you had heard about Jesus. Still, I prided myself on being “in the world” because I hung out with a handful of non-Christian theater friends. I had no idea how much I was being shaped by safely floating among the majority culture. I was a hot mess of self-righteous arrogance and wild-eyed insecurity, but a seed planted nonetheless, hoping to grow into spiritual fruitfulness amid various thorns and thistles of church-life at the turn of the last century. I was hungry, and God was so, so gracious.

While my childhood was saturated in Christian culture, my kids are having the opposite experience. They attend a school where they don’t know anyone else who goes to church every Sunday. Sometimes they are mocked. Often they feel a bit lonely. And every year my husband and I weigh our circumstances, family ministry opportunities, and their educational needs to see if this all still makes sense. We know God has called us to love the city of Los Angeles, and this is how it looks right now. They ended up as missionary kids right here in America.

The reality is that no city, neighborhood, or school option comes without both costs and opportunities. We each weigh these carefully and prayerfully to make choices in our families. For those of us parenting at Cornerstone, any school choice means regularly interacting with a Los Angeles culture that at best glorifies other gods and at worst, actively fights against ours. As my kids grow increasingly aware of their difference, moments to gather with the church family are more and more precious. Church is a place to exhale, a community who knows their lingo and joins them in song.

And so thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who invested time in Cornerstone Kids Camp this year. You made space for a bunch of little Angelenos to experience God—some maybe for the first time. You seeded memories that will one day be part of their testimony, a story of God’s work in this next generation that I cannot wait to watch unfold. For these kids, life will get crazy, wild and amazing, but thanks to all the mothers, fathers, and big brothers and sisters, over 80 of our kids are singing about how He is good.