This whole week I will be helping out my parents with their church’s Vacation Bible School. VBS is an interesting, yearly event specifically because I’m not sure exactly what role it has in the modern church.
At one point in time VBS was a time for children to be able to get Bible education during the summer. It was held during the day and could even last for up to two weeks.
It was also during the time of the big tent meetings, of prayer in schools, and a general acceptance of God. It was an outreach of a church, and it gave everyone a chance to hear Bible stories.
The current incarnation of VBS (at least those that I’ve been involved with) is different.
- It reaches primarily those that already know– why should you go to VBS at a church if you’re not religious?
- It reaches kids from like minded churches– it does not seem to be reaching new people, but parents who shuffle their kids from place to place to be entertained.
- It does not have good follow-up for those new people that come.
- Since it has an audience of mostly churched children, it is too elementary in the faith to actually promote growth.
- It’s become almost formula, with multiple different “vendors” creating material in multiple different formats (same lesson through out the week vs. different lesson every night).
So, let’s not just talk about VBS and what it has become, but let’s discuss some of the challenges of the modern VBS, and take this week where I’m working at a VBS to suggest ways that our churches could do it better.