Years ago - 10 years before I came to LifeWay as VBS Ministry Specialist - LifeWay's VBS team made the decision that the curriculum they created and published would be evangelistically focused. The decision was made to unashamedly make an evangelistic message the centerpiece of the VBS week.
I am proud to say that 21 years later that conviction is stronger than ever. It only requires a brief look at the five Bible studies of LifeWay's VBS 2017 Galactic Starveyors to know that each day provides a very clear opportunity to tell boys and girls, teens, and adults that God desires to have a relationship with them. Each lesson is based on one of the following five points:
- God Rules
- We Sinned
- God Provides
- Jesus Gives
- We Respond
During my 11 years promoting the ministry of VBS and the resources provided by LifeWay, I have been reminded over and over how easy it is to allow VBS to become evangelistic-lite by failing to take advantage of the great opportunities of the VBS week. Too often VBS leaders - usually due to a fear they might not know the answer to a child's question or due to a lack of evangelistic conviction in their own lives - miss tremendous evangelistic opportunities.
At most the VBS week is 15 hours, and many churches have cut the week to 10 or fewer hours. Each hour is a precious opportunity that disappears in the blink of an eye. The nine-year-old boy who attends on Monday may not return on Tuesday, and the 10-year-old girl who attends Tuesday might not return Wednesday. Each day of VBS is potentially the only day a child, teen, or adult will have to hear that God loves him and the world so much He gave is Son as the ultimate sacrifice that he might have forgiveness of his sin and eternal life.
Do we really want to waste the gift of a day by focusing on anything other than an evangelistic message? Can we really afford to squander an evangelistic opportunity that may never come again? Every aspect of the VBS day - including recreation, crafts, and snacks - should provide an opportunity for a boy or girl, teen, or adult to learn how they can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Studies have revealed that unless a child makes Jesus his or her Lord and Savior by the age of 12, the probability of doing so later is extremely slim. Are you willing to recklessly waste a day of VBS by doing anything other than giving a clear presentation of the gospel?
Too often I have had a VBS leader tell me that his VBS did not result in any professions of faith because all of the kids attending were churched kids. My only response to this statement is someone obviously forgot to invite the unchurched kids. What a tremendous waste of time, dollars, and volunteer resources.
For years I have told VBS leaders if their Bible schools are not going to be intentionally evangelistic they should take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's for a night of fun then call it a day. I have never agreed with that thought more than today.
VBS must be evangelistic.