Why do I care about Vacation Bible School? Kids and their parents need to hear the gospel and about thirty-percent of the families who attend our VBS are unchurched.
Pastors, make Vacation Bible School a priority. I recognize that it may seem old fashioned and some of you have actually changed the name or maybe you’ve settled on a sports camp or art camp. Regardless of what you call it or what the tag line is, most churches have some sort of Bible School-type event for kids this summer.
According to my children’s minister, one of the most important keys to a successful Vacation Bible School is a supportive pastor. As pastors, we lead our churches and our churches will follow where we lead. Here are some steps to growing the influence and impact of your Vacation Bible School (or whatever cool name you have applied to your summer camp this year):
- Pray for VBS. If we believe what we say we believe then we know that we need the Holy Spirit of God going ahead of us. We need God to be in the details of the planning and in the efforts to contact potential participants and we need his Spirit going ahead of our efforts by preparing the hearts of children and parents to hear the gospel.
- Budget for VBS. VBS preparation does not start in March, it begins when your budget season begins. Quality events cost money. Have you worked with your finance committee and advocated on behalf of VBS to get the event fully funded?
- Make safety and security a priority. Nothing will ruin your effort to impact your community with the gospel faster than losing a kid or having one get hurt by negligence. Start today by requiring background checks and injury incident reports.
- Support VBS publicly. Things that matter in your church get attention from the senior pastor standing at the pulpit. If you want VBS to be successful, your church needs to see you supporting it publicly. They will give value to the things you value.
- Support VBS privately. Your VBS leaders need to know that you are on their team. I buy ice cream for our teachers and support our leaders behind the scene. Give priority to VBS in your meeting time and in use of your church facilities. Also, see point 2 above.
- Keep looking for ways to engage parents. This is hard, most parents like the baby-sitting aspect of VBS and have no desire to hang around for a Bible study, but don’t stop trying to share the gospel just because it is hard. Set up a table and pass out Bibles and tracts. Offer a parenting class or a finance class. Try a parent’s coffee or send home sermon CDs. Get creative—parents need the gospel as much as their children.
- Do family night well. For many churches family night is an event of a bygone era, but for us family night is one of the most important nights on our annual church calendar. We will have a full sanctuary with many people who do not regularly attend church (about 30% of the families who attend our VBS admit to being unchurched). Share the gospel well on family night. We reduce distractions by keeping the kids out of the sanctuary until the gospel has been shared with parents. Family night is planned around the presentation of the gospel, not around a performance by the kids. Make the main thing the main thing.
The difference between an “OK” VBS and a great VBS can be counted in a few dollars and a whole lot of effort. The difference is in the details, but pastor, you can make all the difference. Your church will follow your lead. Identify a strong VBS leader, give him or her your full support and watch it blossom into a living organism where the gospel of Jesus can be shared with children and their parents and the kingdom of God can be advanced.