A few weeks ago I shared that years ago Vacation Bible Schools were conducted for four weeks, then shortened to two, then one, and now we are beginning to hear of more churches scheduling three day schools. In the previous post I wrote that as we shorten the number of days and hours it becomes even more important to connect everything - including snacks - to the daily Scripture and Biblical theme. As we decrease time we must increase the intentionality of everything we do from promotion to continuing the connections after VBS. This goes for being intentional about relationships as well.
One of the reasons VBS has continued to result in a high number of professions of faith is the concentrated time spent over multiple days getting to know the kids and the kids getting to know the leaders. As relationships grow so does the trust factor that allows kids to embrace the Gospel.
This is why we traditionally reserve the Gospel presentation and opportunity for response to the third or fourth sessions. Although we may clearly present the Gospel during the first session (as we do in the Agency D3 resources) we typically wait until relationships have been established before presenting the opportunity to respond. We want to give time for the trust factor - both in the Gospel message and with the leaders presenting it - to develop.
As we decrease the days of VBS we also decrease the opportunity for relationships to grow. When you add this to a rotation process that often places kids with a different leader ever 30 minutes relationships become even more difficult. There is already some (inconclusive) evidence that Bible schools of three days or less result in fewer professions of faith then schools of five days or more.
So how do we meet this challenge? By making relationships a priority! From the moment families arrive at the registration table until they are back in their cars for the ride home we must concentrate on getting beyond the basic acknowledgement of their existence to truly establishing a relationship. Actually we must make relationships a priority far beyond the VBS experience but that is a topic for another blog.
This means the registration lady's job is to do more then get ink on paper and fill in every blank. Her first priority is to try (as best as time allows) to get the know both the kids and their parents. The snack team has to do more than pour lemonade and pass out cookies. They must also interact with the kids and try to get to know them.
This also means your church may need to enlist more volunteers with the primary assignment of getting to know the kids and their parents. The fewer days you conduct Bible school the lower the kids to worker ratio needs to be. This may mean creating smaller classes or it may mean enlisting more adults to travel with kids to each rotation and actually interacting with them during the rotation.
If VBS is the biggest evangelistic outreach of your church year you can't afford to sabotage the possibilities by decreasing the opportunities to build and grow relationships.