We're celebrating 90 - that's 90 years of providing the very best VBS curriculum, resources, and training - by going to the archives for ideas and advice that is just as relevant today as the day it was first printed.
WHAT ARE YOU MISSING?
We no longer think only of children when we think of VBS: we think of families. Churches who become aware of needs in their community and implement strategies to meet these needs find a great tool in Adult VBS. Most churches conduct VBS, but not every church conducts Adult VBS. What are they missing? These churches are missing:
"A teacher preparation tool for those teaching children, preschoolers, or youth in VBS," says Brenda Columbus, St. John's Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. Brenda directs VBS in her African-America church and personally benefits from Adult VBS. She has four children, ages 14-17, and uses the theme of VBS beyond the church to teach them Bible principles all summer long.
Brenda attributes the success of Adult VBS in her church to four elements: 1. To the pastor (Bennie C. Thomas) teaching the adult sessions; 2. to LifeWay curriculum, which offers new ways of teaching the Bible to adults, 3. to the themes which encourage a casual atmosphere for teaching-learning; and 4. to fellowship over the five-session event.
"A reinforcement of family responsibility," answers John Long, minister of education at First Baptist Church, Belleview, Florida. John's church schedules events and strategies with the family in mind, and has conducted Adult VBS for 10 years. The church uses direct mail to send VBS information to families in their community and greets everyone who attends. Parents are reminded to attend Adult VBS while their children participate in age-level VBS.
John's church averaged 50 in Adult VBS and five were new adults reached through VBS. John and his pastor, Ronnie Walker, recommend Adult VBS as a tool to help parents understand that they have a primary responsibility for the spiritual development of their children.
"A nonthreatening environment that encourages adults to study the Bible and at the same time observe firsthand their children being impacted by the same Bible principles," states Kyle Felts, minister of education at Town East Baptist Church, Mesquite, Texas. Kyle says his church uses Adult VBS to reach people who often cannot be reached through ongoing Bible study.
Charlie and Alisa Ragan are testimonies of what Adult VBS can do. Alisa brought her two daughters to VBS and was invited to Adult VBS. She attended and made a commitment to Christ during VBS. Later her husband, Charlie, committed his life to Christ. The Ragans moved to the state of Washington and became involved in a Baptist church there. They have been in lay inistry in their new church in ways that were not available to them at Town East.
Kyle recommends Adult VBS as a tool to reach lost people and an excellent way to show your community that you care.
"Another avenue to reach senior adults," is one thing people are missing, says Kenny Hoomes, minister to adults, First Baptist Church, Prattville, Alabama. First conducts Senior Adult vBS every year, and 60 seniors were enrolled in 2001. One person impacted by First's VBS is Jo Yeargan. She attended First Baptist the first time through Adult VBS and now is an active member of Sunday School. Hoomes recommends Adult VBS because many adults find it easier to attend Bible study during the week than on Sunday.
"A curriculum that helps inmates prepare for parole,"a unique benefit shared by LaVern Inzer, Baptist Mission, Carlin, Nevada. Inzer is mission pastor of a minimum-security prison and enjoys the outline of Adult VBS materials, plus the fresh and different approach to Bible study.
Reaching adults, encouraging parents to develop their children spiritually, training VBS leaders - are these needs in your church? Consider Adult VBS as the tool to help you accomplish what has been missing!
Written by Mary T. Willis and originally published February 2002 in The Sunday School Leader. At the time she wrote this article Willis was Director of Single Adult Ministries, First Baptist Church, Trussville, Alabama.