Last Thursday night we finished up another week of Vacation Bible School. The last night of VBS always seems to bring with it a great sense of relief. Months of preparation and planning and a week of dealing with high-energy children comes down to that final night, when you are just glad that you made it through. VBS is one of the most exciting times in the church year for me. This year, our church had almost 60 children participate. For a church whose children’s ministry usually runs in the 10-20 range, those numbers represent a tremendous success. However, even if the numbers were far less, I still get jazzed up about Vacation Bible School.
In recent years, I have heard of churches that are moving away from VBS. Honestly, I think this is a sad move. I have heard some say it is for financial reasons, and I will not argue that VBS can be costly. I have heard some say that the VBS format is not practical for families and culture today. In some communities, this may be the case, though it has not seemed to be the case in our community. Whatever the reasons, though, I still believe that Vacation Bible School, in some format is still a worthwhile part of any church’s ministry.
- Outreach. The whole purpose of Vacation Bible School has always been to share some of the basic truths and stories of the Christian faith with children throughout the community. Vacation Bible School just seems to have an open atmosphere behind it that rarely causes anyone to ask “Can I invite someone else to come?”
- Connection. Summer can become a time when children fall naturally into cliques, hanging out only with the children in their neighborhood or the children at their pool or the few children they call close friends. Vacation Bible School becomes an opportunity for children to interact with other children beyond their typical social, economic, and racial groupings.
- Fun. Kids get a chance to see that God likes laughter and joy. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit! Children get a chance to see adults singing songs, playing silly games, and just generally having a good time right alongside of the kids.
- Mentoring. VBS provides some great training ground for teenagers in areas of leadership. They can be partnered with other adults or, as they get older, allowed to take sole leadership of certain areas, all the while having other people close by to lend a helping hand when necessary.
- Focus on children. For one week (or however long you do your VBS), the church tends to place a huge emphasis on children’s ministry. So often children’s ministry becomes babysitting. VBS reminds us that Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of Heaven belongs.” VBS calls us to minister to children, to share Jesus with children, not just keep them out of the way for a couple of hours while the big people do “real church”.
Maybe I am just old-fashioned (which seems kind of ironic to type into a blog entry), but I think VBS still is one of the greatest tools for ministry and outreach the church has. My thoughts and prayers are with those churches preparing for VBS later this summer, and for those who have already finished: put your feet up and take a good rest!
As our world continues to change, I believe that VBS methodology may change with it. However, it would be a shame to see it gone. I agree, VBS is one of the best times to reach out to kids in our communities. We’ll reach kids that are never taken to a Sunday morning service. This may be the only time they get to hear the story of Jesus, for the whole year!
Sure, the methodology may change. It has changed to some extent. But that is ok. As long as parents are looking for free childcare for a few hours during the day/night, then we will always have kids coming through our doors in the Summer for VBS.
Now, getting those same parents to get their child up on a Sunday morning for a 9:45am lesson…that may be next to impossible. 😦