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Vacation Bible School: What stirs churches to do it?

NASHVILLE (BP) — Vacation Bible School is synonymous with summer in many churches — perhaps because it’s been around in one form or another since 1898.

Under its current moniker among Southern Baptists, VBS has been an evangelistic strategy since the 1920s. In kid’s ministry — which is often marked by trendy short-lived fads — VBS is a proven program with real staying power.

Here are three reasons churches turn to VBS year after year.

VBS is an effective evangelism strategy.

Based on Annual Church Profile (ACP) data, VBS is used by more than 25,000 Southern Baptist churches each year to reach more than 2.5 million people. Last year, these SBC churches reported more than 70,000 professions of faith as a direct result of VBS. Talk about impact!

If VBS were to suddenly disappear from these churches, what evangelistic strategy would take its place? VBS isn’t just about games, crafts and snacks. Its primary purpose is leading people to experience the life-transforming power of the Gospel.

God calls people to vocational ministry through VBS.

Many pastors, staff members and missionaries cite a VBS experience as the first time they personally felt God’s call to vocational ministry. In this sense, VBS can become a training ground for the next generation of church leaders.

Additionally, the missions component of VBS exposes children to the work of missionaries serving around the world. As kids learn about, pray for and participate in missions, God just might be preparing them to one day say, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”

VBS gives churches more time with kids and parents.

A traditional VBS structure involves three hours of church engagement a day for five days in a row. That type of interaction provides opportunities for evangelism, discipleship and relationship-building that could otherwise take months to accomplish based on typical church attendance patterns.

And when follow-up is made a priority, the relationships don’t end once VBS is over. VBS is the perfect opportunity for a church to connect with children and families who might not otherwise attend.

VBS is a fun and non-threatening way for kids to get exposure to the church. VBS gives kids an opportunity to develop a sense of ownership (my room, my teacher, my friends) that makes them want to return. Hosting a VBS celebration or family night at the end of VBS also allows parents within the church to make connections with parents outside the church.

Although VBS is flexible, dependable and fun, most importantly it has the opportunity to impact lives for eternity as kids, teens and adults come to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. That alone makes VBS worth it!

    About the Author

  • Melita Thomas

    Melita Thomas is VBS ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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