After months of planning and volunteer gathering, put on your cowboy boots and head to the ranch or swab the deck for a high-seas adventure?it’s time for Vacation Bible School.
While the themes of VBS may vary, this weeklong ministry to children remains after many years a valuable summertime endeavor where children can learn about the gospel.
“More people come to know Christ through VBS than any other outreach event of the year. That’s why it’s so important that we reach out to our communities through VBS,” Jeff Slaughter of Lifeway Christian Resources said. “It could be the most evangelistic outreach of the year for your church.”
“Kids are out of school and look forward to it. Summer provides a great opportunity [to reach kids],” said Zack Hudson, children’s minister at First Baptist Church of Watauga.
For a few hours a day?morning, afternoon, or evening?children go to the church and learn about Christ and grow in their relationship with him. Whether it’s worship time, Bible story time, crafts or even snack time, the theme is woven into every aspect of the day.
VBS can serve as an “in-reach” time for children in the church or as an outreach. It is also an opportunity for church members of all ages to be involved in the ministry of VBS.
“Volunteers tell me ‘we love VBS ? it’s my favorite time of year,'” said Stephanie King, elementary children’s minister at RockPointe Church in Flower Mound. “It brings church members together and builds community in the church.”
Church teenagers serve as assistants and learn the value of teaching and discipleship in the church, King said.
Volunteers and church leaders agree that the months of preparation and hard work are worthwhile when children make decisions for Christ.
“It’s exciting to teach kids about Jesus Christ and the Bible,” Stephen McEndree of First Baptist Church of Watauga said. McEndree taught a third-grade VBS class this summer. He shared the gospel every day in class and one evening after the gospel message was shared, one boy asked him how to talk to God.
“I talked and explained ? he bowed his head and prayed,” McEndree said.
Another boy told McEndree that he had prayed in his bed and told God that he wanted to be with God.
“It’s tiring but it’s fun. It’s worth it when one child comes to know Jesus Christ,” McEndree said.
“It is important to think about kids outside of the church,” said Hudson of FBC Watauga. At VBS this year, the Watauga church estimated that 30 percent of the children who attended VBS were non-churched children in the community.
“VBS hinges on what else we are doing in the community,” Hudson said. “Kids coming out of the community without church homes, you’re changing them and you’re changing their home.”
“I still think God uses VBS. It’s an effective way to share the gospel and opens a lot of doors in the community,” said Ron Holton, pastor of RockPointe Church in Flower Mound.
At RockPointe, out of about 350 children, 124 registration cards indicated a “no” answer when asked if they have a home church. Holton noted that VBS provides a way to connect with families and children in the community who are not attending a church.
Both RockPointe and FBC Watauga end the week with a special celebration and fellowship time serving as an opportunity for parents to learn what the children learned all week.
“Statistically, most people who make a decision for the Lord make them sixth grade and under. That statistic alone should show the importance of things like VBS,” Hudson said.