May 22, 2024

Vacation Bible School

To me, Vacation Bible School is one of those things that seems to have lost an ultimate purpose because of the change in society in culture.  Think I’m mistaken?  At one point, VBS was run two weeks during the day.  They were done as a series of classes and singing.  Now, they’re done for a week, during the evening, with an emphasis on activities, recreation, fun, and conflicted target for the lesson time.

Conflicted, because you do not know whether you’re trying to reach those that are without Christ (i.e. evangelism) or those that come to the church (i.e. edification). Churches have become very insulated– where we seem to want to do more edification than evangelism. Or, if we’re going to do evangelism, we don’t know how to get people in or what to do with our own kids when then get there.

To me, this ministry does need some more thought as to what purpose it should fill. For the past three years, I’ve encouraged my church to abandon VBS altogether in favor of Good News Clubs. The reason? Because I believe that our target was evangelism, and we weren’t bringing in anyone new. I think it’s better to go out into the world and reach them where they are, and then bring them to the church, rather than expecting the current generation of people just to come to the church of their own free will.

To me, I see the new purpose of VBS as a bridge between Good News Clubs and Sunday School. It gets people to the church building, seeing the facilities, the personnel, but it’s not a service. It’s less intimidating than “dumping” new converts into the service. It gives the parents a better feeling, and you can do this in such a way to build excitement and build on to what has happened in the Good News Clubs.

As for target, education wise, it should be geared to beginning discipleship. We should utilize our kids to help us in this task. They can help by learning along with the new children (by helping them with new concepts) or they can help through service. We should also have some sort of adult class (perhaps English as a Second Language if there’s demand) so that we can have something for the adults to do and learn from (another chance for evanglisation) while we have the children.

The longer the time period, the better we achieve this goal. Daytime would take a lot of commitment, so it would have to be something that we worked up to. The goal of this step, in my mind, is to get children and families comfortable with the church and try to break down the barriers (whether they be past religious experience (i.e. Roman Catholicism) or apprehension by having something for new converts or those seeking at the church building that is not on Sunday.

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9 thoughts on “Vacation Bible School

  1. Are you talking about the Good News Clubs that are done in the schools, in the after-school time slot? We don’t have any of those here in Spokane, but I know someone in Yakima who is involved in them. What an awesome opportunity!

    I think your plan has alot of merit. As you know, our family is heavily involved with Awana and I would add that the Awana program and material does an excellent job addressing both evangelism and discipleship. The key, I think, and it isn’t successful everywhere, is BRINGING FRIENDS (which is built right into the program – it’s a requirement for all clubbers kindergarten and up).

    Then, this post also begs the question, “how do you extend this concept to older youth?”

  2. Explain Good News Bible Clubs more please! I’m co-directing VBS again this year and am always up for great ideas…have been thinking of doing my own back yard Bible school here at the “ranch” for the many nieces and nephews I have running around the neighborhood (that are either unchurched or Catholic)…maybe the GNBC would be a line to pursue.

    I was surprised that our VBS last year, though great, didn’t really have a solid salvation message. We had to add it in. We usually attract all the same kids that come to our Awana program, probably a good 1/3 from outside our church. And we do it in the evenings so we can get the men and working moms to help… 🙂

  3. Our Good News Clubs would be better compared to VBS on the road. The first year that we did it, we found a couple of small housing projects or trailer parks and set up to do the same things that you would do for VBS in that area. Then we spent time going door to door to get the children, had our lesson, craft, snack and everything and then were done. We did different places throughout the week.

    Recently, we’ve been doing them once a month or once a week in one place, as recently as this past March we did them every Wednesday night. The point being: Meet them where they are, take advantage of what they have to offer, and see souls saved. Right now, I’m working with my church to figure out where to go from there.

  4. It sounds like a great way to minister to the neighborhood…thanks for explaining it better.

    We used to take our church’s puppet stage and set it up (with permission first!) at the town’s park…then our youth group kids would go door to door inviting children to come to hear the skit and songs and have cookies and kool-aid…the children loved it.

  5. A hearty ‘AMEN’ to your post, Min. For several years now my husband and I have been wondering where VBS was headed in most churches. Our church doesn’t even have it anymore which I find very sad. We are also very involved with AWANA at our church and AWANA has now started a summer program. We wanted to check that our further. These children, churched and unchurched need something during these summer months. I loved VBS when I was a child.

  6. Our church doesn’t do VBS either. Deborah, what is your church using for summer AWANA?

    Some may not know that this year AWANA came out with a soccer VBS curriculum. It’s my understanding that it may be used by anyone (doesn’t have to be an AWANA registered church). It’s 5 days, based on the 5 colors used in the wordless book and all that. Here’s the link: Awana Summer Evangelism Children’s Ministry.

    Our church hasn’t picked it up, mainly because so many of our kids are involved in soccer already, but I think it has alot of potential if you consider taking it into a park in a less privileged neighborhood.

    Just a thought.

  7. Rebecca…that soccer VBS curriculum that you mentioned is what I was talking about for AWANA this summer. No, our church is not going to do that either. I think everyone is just plain tired after the AWANA year. We also have a lot of our children playing sports over the summer.

    Good idea about using it in a park in a less privileged neighborhood!

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