The Value of Vacation Bible School
My church recently hosted a Vacation Bible School. If you’ve ever helped out with a VBS before, you know the drill. Hand out flyers in the surrounding neighborhood. Decorate the church building. Distribute prizes ordered from the Oriental Trading Company. Act crazy. And then take a long nap when the week is over, because, for whatever reason, VBS is exhausting.
But is VBS worth the time, the money, the craziness? Is it worth sitting in a room with 100 sweaty kids? I left this week of VBS thinking about several benefits that come from enduring the week.
1. VBS can be a means of developing relationships in your community.
Those hours spent canvassing, usually on a humid day in late July, are actually meaningful. These flyers reach the homes of real, live humans. And these humans live near your church, so they know that it exists. But they probably don’t know much more about it than that. Even if your church has been in the same location for years, neighborhoods change and old neighbors are replaced by new neighbors who know nothing about your church.
But handing out flyers isn’t primarily about building community connections or reaching a wide audience. Handing out flyers to invite children to VBS tells your community that they are welcome to enter your building. It may not seem obvious, but people don’t want to go somewhere if they don’t feel like it is a welcoming place. Although it logically makes sense that people are welcome to walk into any church, it doesn’t always feel that way, especially if you are from a different cultural or religious background than what you assume that church represents.
2. VBS can be a means of sharing the gospel with children.
Most churches that run a VBS have a mix of churched and unchurched children in attendance, and it isn’t the unchurched kids alone who need to hear the gospel. Without a doubt, there are churches that misuse this platform to get a conversion count at the end of the week, to get kids to promise never to drink or smoke, or simply to entertain children. Done rightly, VBS can be a means of sharing the gospel with children through lesson times, singing, skits, and personal conversations.
3. VBS can be a means of teaching children to enjoy.
During the summer, many kids spend the majority of their time being nannied by the television while parents are busy with their daytime responsibilities. Oftentimes children turn to the television, the gaming system, or a cell phone to find enjoyment. These things are not necessarily bad, but they often overshadow the enjoyment that children can have by participating in games with their peers or by making new friendships with children their age.
4. VBS can be a means of loving parents by loving their children.
A friend once told me that the most meaningful acts of love he has received are ones done for his children. He would often talk about the love that he would feel from people when they took the time to interact with his kids. In the same way, a church can love the parents of the children attending VBS simply by loving their children and by taking interest in their lives.
5. VBS can be a means of sharing the gospel with parents.
Some parents don’t typically desire to sit in a church or listen to God’s Word being preached. However, if their child is involved in the closing program of the VBS, that parent is much more likely to endure a gospel presentation.
Our church has a closing program, which involves a play that the kids are in, along with some song and verse presentations. At the end, the gospel is preached clearly and simply. It is not a long message, but it is a presentation of the good news of Jesus Christ.
6. VBS can be a means of cultivating a healthy church body.
A group of church members comes together each night for a week working together, solving problems together, laughing together, and dressing up in ridiculous clothes that they would be embarrassed to be seen in at any other time. VBS can serve to unite believers in the common call to minister the gospel to the community. Doing ministry together has a way of building friendships that last.
Not only does VBS serve to strengthen the relationships of the people in the church, but it also provides an opportunity for people to try something when they normally would be uncomfortable putting themselves out there. Whether it is learning to teach, acting in a skit, or leading singing, VBS provides ample opportunity to experiment with different skill sets, to develop already recognized abilities, and to affirm either ability or the lack thereof in a low-pressure environment.
VBS offers many benefits, but ultimately, VBS is one way to strategically build relationships in the community with the goals of pointing people to Christ and making God’s name known.