The edgy and unusual Left Behind VBS was intended to breathe new life into the slowing brand. The program was tested in 14 churches, mostly in Pennsylvania, and involved realistic fear tactics.
At one point the kids huddled in a darkened room while sound effects made it sound like giant hail was ripping through the church roof. Noises also simulated fire, earthquakes and panicked people stampeding and screaming.
"It was very believable," says one teacher. "I knew it was fake and I was still scared."
They had to stop the CD and turn the lights on because kids began screaming. On another day the teachers had the children close their eyes, and when they opened them, half the group had been quietly led out of the room.
"That’s what it will feel like if you’re left behind when the Lord comes back," said a teacher as children sobbed.