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U.S.: VBS drew 1 in 16 elementary age kids


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Vacation Bible School is huge. How huge? Almost 1 in 16 children ages 5-12 in America was enrolled in a Southern Baptist VBS, according to figures from 2006.

“The evangelism potential for VBS is unbelievable,” said Ken Marler, network partnership specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources, who led a session on the importance of VBS follow-up during the VBS Preview Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at LifeWay’s offices in Nashville, Tenn.

Vacation Bible School is a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention entity.

“We enrolled more than 2.9 million people in VBS [in 2006] and about 2 million of those were ages 5-12,” Marler said. “When you realize that there are 32 million children in America who are between ages 5-12, it’s staggering to think about 1 in 16 children in that age group was enrolled in a LifeWay VBS in a Southern Baptist church.”

Such numbers require VBS leaders to take responsibility for keeping up with the children following the week’s VBS.

Marler offered the following suggestions:


1. Set goals. Plan to follow up. First, decide quickly to make follow-up visits and then determine how many leaders should be involved. Second, set up teams. Finally, at each visit, have information about the church and Sunday School ready to give to each family.

2. Include adult class leaders and children’s department leaders. Before VBS even begins, enlist leaders to visit each child’s home after VBS. Not only should there be a plan for the children, but bring along adults from an appropriate class to visit with the parents.

3. Registration must be correct. Fill out an information card on every child who comes to VBS. Even the children who are regular church attendees need to have their information in writing. LifeWay offers VBS Tools Online as a simple way to keep all the information organized. Visit www.lifeway.com/vbstools.

4. Consider a VBS follow-up director. This person should be someone who is not heavily involved in the VBS week activities so he or she will be fresh when the week is over. He or she needs to select and enlist team members. Their job is to coordinate VBS family visits.

5. Report VBS follow-up efforts to the congregation. From the pulpit, enthusiastically report on VBS’ success to the congregation. Tell how many children participated and how many families benefited from the follow-up. Remember that some “follow-up” goes on all year long.

6. Establish a VBS prayer ministry, which can be active throughout the year, not just the month leading up to VBS. Make a VBS prayer calendar and distribute it to the entire church.

7. Adopt a “VBS Never Ends” emphasis. Throughout the year, remind people of the upcoming theme. For example, in January play a VBS music video. When the director is selected, introduce him or her to the congregation and let him or her remind church members of the VBS date.

8. Include testimonies and interviews. Throughout the year, let people who have been touched by VBS give brief testimonies of how they were changed. When those who received Christ because of the influence of VBS are baptized, tell the congregation.

9. Add a VBS Day in Sunday School. Distribute flyers that remind classes of the VBS theme. Place theme-appropriate decorations in the hallways. Begin VBS enrollment in the Sunday School classes where parents can sign up their children.
Compiled by Polly House, a corporate communications specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information on Vacation Bible School, go to www.lifeway.com/vbs.