I have often had church leaders tell me volunteers are no longer interested in training. Declining numbers at many training events on the surface gives credibility to the idea. But I’m not convinced. I believe the opposite is true. Actually, I believe people crave training more than ever before.
Book stores and the web are filled with thousands of volumes and videos that provide training for everything from how to core an apple to quantum physics. Surely Vacation Bible School fits in there somewhere.
For 45 years LifeWay, along with a vast network of state and regional associations of churches, have conducted VBS training events that have sharpened the skills of millions of Bible school workers. Training has been provided on every aspect of VBS from the duties of a director to serving as a parking lot attendant and greeter.
VBS is predominately a volunteer led and staffed ministry. It is also a ministry that has launched thousands of first-timers into ongoing and vocational ministry. Many of those who have received training have continued to return year after year even though they knew the work inside and outside. They return because they understand the value of training events is not just for the sharpening of skills, but also for the reviving of enthusiasm and passion.
It is true that many VBS training events have experienced a decline of attendance in recent years, but it may not be due to people not wishing to be trained. The decline may have much more to do with the training events themselves. People want to be trained but they might not be available at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening or 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. People will also stop responding when training no longer seems relevant or engaging. Many training events have fallen victim to complacency.
I believe people want to be trained, but we must provide training that is appealing, provided in many different formats, and inspires as well as sharpens the skills of VBS leadership. There also appears to be a direct link between the number of workers trained nationally and the number of professions of faith. Some of our western states such as Nevada, provided statistical information several years ago that reported for every one person trained there was 1.1 professions of faith. We compared the same numbers nationally which showed one profession of faith for each person trained. Is training important? These stats say YES!
VBS must provide training.