Taking your VBS to the next level

Vacation Bible School is an enriching time when various volunteers from all parts of the church join together to plan and lead a special event with one theme in mind—sharing the gospel with children. I was one of those church kids who accepted Christ as my Savior during VBS at age 9. I love VBS! 

Though fewer parents are taking their families to church on Sundays, many will bring their children to VBS. The week of concentrated Bible study, worship, missions, fellowship, and salvation opportunities continues to be the most “immediate practical way of increasing the Bible study time for our children,” Landry Holmes wrote in his 2018 book, It’s Worth It.

After 125 years planning, creating, training, sharing, fellowshipping, and teaching, what could take this evangelism opportunity to the next level of excellence? 

"Before finding a leader or director, purchasing curriculum, or recruiting teachers, enlist a prayer team of three to five people to lead the church in praying for VBS."

Prayer 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing.” The entire VBS experience needs to be immersed in prayer from beginning to end, from recruitment to follow-up.

Before finding a leader or director, purchasing curriculum, or recruiting teachers, enlist a prayer team of three to five people to lead the church in praying for VBS. Consider asking volunteers who cannot attend VBS to be diligent in weekly prayer. Explain to these individuals that prayer is one of the most important parts of VBS and their consistent prayers are needed before, during, and even after the event. 

Faith and salvation conversations 

Faith conversations could happen when a child, while walking from one activity to the next, asks a volunteer questions about God, church, faith, etc. The volunteer may comment on how God blessed the day with sunshine and warm weather. This one comment may begin a casual conversation about God and faith. Leaders need to be trained to become active listeners so they can purposefully converse with children in these casual faith conversations. 

Other times, children want to talk specifically about salvation. Sharing the gospel with children should be a part of VBS training for all leaders and volunteers. We should never assume adults know how to share the gospel with children.

Follow-up 

Follow-up is the icing on the cake, the bow on the gift, the finishing touches on a well-executed plan. Most people would not only say follow-up is important, but that it is the most forgotten part of VBS.

Follow-up with visitors may simply be sending an invitation to the family for future church events or leaving a goodie bag at their home. For non-attending members, a phone call, card, email, goodie bag, or other type of communication can deliver an important message: “We miss you!”

The most important follow-up efforts involve contacting families whose child became a Christian during VBS. An arranged, in-person visit from church leaders is most effective. This visit allows the leaders to talk with the parents and child about the child’s decision to follow Christ. It is also a good opportunity to discuss the child’s baptism. Perhaps the family does not attend church. This visit helps parents know they are welcome at your church and gives them a place for their child’s baptism. Follow-up matters. 

Bessie Fleming Chair of Childhood Education
Karen Kennemur
SWBTS
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