When you plan for months and then pour your heart and soul into a week’s worth of VBS, you’ve might sometimes ask yourself, Is it worth the effort?
Well, I attend Lakewood Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and my church’s VBS was held this year from July 16-20. I was assigned to work with 5 year olds, so I started out on Monday morning with 9 well-behaved students. But because there was an abundance of 4 year olds, my class was quickly adjusted. Five of my 5 year olds were “promoted” to the kindergarten room, leaving me 4 of my original students, but then I received 10 more 4 year olds. As the week went on, we picked up two more students. Three of the younger boys were pretty rambunctious, and they required constant attention. With only one other teacher (and an additional one, at times), this did not make for the perfect teaching situation. However, we did have fun, and the kids learned a lot about the Bible and how Jesus takes care of us in all that we do. But there were still times that I asked myself, Why am I here?
The Reason for VBS
VBS is the biggest and best evangelistic outreach event in the life of most churches. LifeWay’s curriculum is designed so that each day’s activities will help girls and boys learn more about God and Jesus. Through Bible stories, VBS encourages children to understand the Bible and apply those Bible truths to their lives, making God’s Word both real and meaningful. But VBS also provides many unexpected benefits.
Unexpected Benefits of VBS
The Church Becomes Unified
During VBS, lots of workers are needed, probably more than any other single event at church. Through this one event, teachers and students get to see the church functioning as the body of Christ that it was meant to be. All participants have a different job; all do their job; and in working together, the lives of children are changed.
Men Volunteer for VBS
At our church, men who are retired or work alternate shifts are eager to volunteer. This has proven to be a positive thing, especially for our school-aged boys, many of whom do not have positive male role models. Whether teaching, leading crafts, or overseeing recreation, men seem to make an impact on the lives of kids at VBS. This year, men even organized and ran our teacher’s lounge (where teachers enjoy “snack” at the same time as their kids, but in a separate location).
New Leaders Are Discovered
Adults and youth who have never held a leadership role will volunteer for VBS because it is a short-term commitment, and it allows them to work with children on a trial basis. Many excellent Sunday School teachers and leaders of other children’s ministries have been discovered through VBS.
New Prospects Are Discovered
VBS provides an outlet for meeting new children and families in your community, whether they be unchurched, looking for a new church home, or already church members elsewhere. Every year, it seems that new families are added to our church at the conclusion of VBS. However, follow-up is essential to keep these “jewels” from slipping through your fingers. People need to know they are needed and feel welcome when they return to your church for other functions.
The Ultimate VBS Benefit
You may not think your job at VBS is very important, but when all is said and done, the research numbers are staggering. We have not yet received statistics from VBS 2012, but here are the results from VBS 2011: 24,941 SBC churches reported that they conducted VBS (a 496 church and mission increase from 2010). Their enrollment of both students and workers was 2,832,379 (a 74,403 person increase from 2010). There were 79,876 professions of faith, with 2,281 decisions to pursue a vocational ministry. There were 231,213 prospects discovered and 39,390 prospects added to Sunday School programs
(a 6,092 person increase from 2010).
So, you see, VBS is not only "worth it," it is essential to the life of a functioning, growing church and community. I, myself, came to know and serve Jesus Christ as my personal Savior as a 12-year-old at VBS, so it is extremely important to me. My prayer is that as long as there are children and summer vacations, there will be VBS and the freedom to attend. And I thank God for allowing me to do the kind of work I do and partner with Him to change the lives of children now and forever.
“Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16, HCSB®)