Time to reevaluate VBS?

Vacation Bible Schools are in full swing already and will go on through the next several weeks. Even so, I wonder if we aren’t missing the mark on VBS.
Before I go on, let me say I’m a big fan of VBS. I think VBS is a fantastic event on multiple levels. Primarily, it’s a great way to reach out to kids who don’t normally go to church and to teach them the basics or foundations of who Christ is and what He means to us. Often, those kids will then turn around and either teach their parents what they’ve learned in church or they may even get their parents interested in church. In my book, that’s a win/win situation.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe VBS used to be held by every church on the exact same week in many communities–in general, that is. Every church did the same VBS then as many do now, but they were all doing it at the same time. Kids went to their own church, and invited their friends who didn’t go to church to go with them.
And it worked.

It was a great way to get new families involved in churches.

The problem as I see it now, though, is that VBS is spread out over the summer, and for the most part, many of the churches are doing the same VBS. What happens is that “church kids” end up attending several different VBSs, often getting the same programs.

Sure, they still invite some of their friends, but many times those friends are kids who are already members of a different church.

Essentially, VBS has become just a sheep-swapping event. Or a glorified babysitting service for the church families.

I have heard it said that the churches now alternate weeks because it is just a “courtesy” thing. Maybe I missed it, or maybe it’s simply semantics, but I didn’t realize that VBS was intended to be a courtesy thing. I never really looked at the church’s responsibility of getting people into the church (and hopefully, eventually “saved”) as courtesy. Since when did stepping on the toes of our neighbor churches take precedence over the eternal salvation of kids?

Why has it become more important to take turns doing VBS than to get non church members interested in attending church?

It seems to make better sense if the churches would all get together (don’t most communities have some sort of ministerial alliance for this thing?) and pick a single week for VBS—a single week for all churches to do VBS—a big massive push for the same VBS program, and then have our kids go out and invite kids who have no home church.
Maybe it’s just me – and that’s okay, too, I’m not unaccustomed to being a lone voice in the woods.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Time to reevaluate VBS?

  1. Lee

    The problem with VBS is not for courtesy thing. It is competition. It is a race to see who can do it the first week after school is out, so we can feel good about doing God a favor and getting it out of the way so we can go on about our summer. We don’t do the same VBS because VBS is big money to publishing houses such as LifeWay, Cantaberry, Group, etc.

    Just a thought from a former fighter

  2. Clayton

    Well my brother, we differ here. I think that if a child has several opportunities to hear the gospel…..even repeated over again, AMEN. It takes adults hearing the Word many times in order for them to respond. I understand the babysitting issue too. But V.B.S. remains the greatest tool of evangelism in our So. Baptist churches today. Week before last, we had 118 children and adults in V.B.S. On Thursday during the evangelistic message, we had 2 children accept Christ personally. On Friday, we had 14 more children during Bible Story Time pray to receive Christ as their personal Savior and on Sunday we baptized 11 of our church members’ children. Three other children attend local churches with their family and we’re waiting on the other 2 children to be baptized. This past Sunday, Father’s Day, one of our youth helpers from V.B.S. was baptized as a result of our evangelistic efforts. So, even if our system is ailing, it’s still presenting Christ and His love to our children. We had a low attendance this year because 4 other local churches were also doing V.B.S. the same week. All I know is that as a result of what we chose to do this year, I now have 17 new brothers and sisters in Christ. “To God be the Glory, great things He HAS done!”

  3. BJ

    We should always continue the “fight” for our Lord Jesus Christ…even when we feel weak/discouraged. I agree with Bro. Clayton. We should always be witnessing every opportunity that we are given. VBS is just one of many ways to witness…not just for the children but to those helpers, parents, community, etc. You never know who or how you can positively impact anothers life…so lets go out into the world and share God’s word! Never giving up the “fight”!

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