I love Vacation Bible School! There are many reasons why I think VBS is wonderful and I believe every church (no matter how big or small) should commit to making sure VBS is a regular ministry program. I recently read a George Barna Update on the state of Vacation Bible School and I was disappointed to read that there has been a decline in VBS ministries among American churches. So I decided to put together my list of why VBS is important to the life of your church. I encourage you to read Barna’s update and rethink the importance of Vacation Bible School, if it is no longer a ministry of your church.
#1 Child Evangelism
Vacation Bible School is not for the regular attendees of the church. Yes your children might attend, volunteer and they might enjoy the summer program but the goal of VBS is to minister to children who may not attend church on a regular basis. Most VBS programs are designed to teach the message of salvation and keep the message simple to bring children to Christ. This gives the families of the church the opportunity to bring visitors. The fun summer program of VBS is a much more non-threatening environment than perhaps they might feel attending a traditional Sunday morning service. It also brings members out of their comfort zones and to the community beyond the walls of their church.
#2 VBS: Organized chaos but only for 1 week- Volunteer!
Anyone who has led or volunteered for VBS knows it is chaotic and at times crazy but when you lead a program for children of all ages that is the reality. Many adults do not volunteer because they do not like the chaos but it is only for one week and you have to weigh the outcome verse the chaos. Children are introduced to the message of Christ and although it is exhausting to put on a ministry, that perhaps is a bit crazy and non-traditional from the day to day ministries of your church, it is one week out of the year (not too much to ask).
#3 Leave your theology at home.
Okay, this might be a bit controversial but believe it or not Christians can even debate about a program like VBS. We all have our beliefs on raising children and even how we raise children according to scripture. VBS is not the time to bring your theological debates into the mix. Vacation Bible School is about reaching children and families with the message of the Cross. When we bring our theological debates into the mix we turn people away and we make church uninviting.
#4 Don’t make it about money
There is a huge money market right now with Vacation Bible School programs. I tend to think many companies are losing sight of the importance of VBS with over-capitalizing on the curriculum. Nevertheless, as costly as it can be to put on a VBS program there are always cheaper avenues to pursue. Do not let money be a factor in hindering your church from putting on a VBS program. According to Barna research, “nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.” Please don’t make the program about money but make it about teaching the gospel to the youngest members of your community- a far greater investment!
#5 Church is fun
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I have always loved VBS is because it is fun. I can laugh and be silly with children of all ages and because we can transform the walls of our church into a child’s adventure. I think it is important to show others, especially children, that loving God is fun and the message of Christ is not all about an adult’s world but it is about being a community where loving God and faith includes children.