I first attended Vacation Bible School at age seven months. While I can not tell you anything that happened that week I have a certificate that proves I was there. Dad signed the certificate as the VBS Director and mom was a nursery (babies-2s) worker.
There have only been two or three years since then I have not participated in VBS in some capacity. That means I have attended at least 56 Bible schools equalling 840 hours of VBS experience. I think by now I have a pretty good understanding of a traditional VBS. I’m sure you do as well or you wouldn’t be reading this post.
During my 11 years as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist I have been reminded and challenged that VBS must leave the walls of the church building if every boy and girl, teen, and adult in the community is going to be reached.
Please do not hear me say we should not conduct traditional Bible schools on a church campus. Far from it! Some unchurched families will only be reached through a Bible school held in a traditional church setting. But far more unchurched families will only be reached when we take VBS out of the walls and into the community. Reaching a community requires both a traditional as well as a missional approach.
I love telling the VBS story of Hillsdale Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee. Hillsdale typically has 1,000 or more people attend VBS each year. By anyone’s standards 1,000 in VBS is awesome! But four years ago children’s minister Tim Munoz became convicted VBS needed to leave the walls of the church building and flow into the community – especially sections of the community not being reached by any other church. In 2016 Tim led his church to conduct a traditional VBS on the church campus for 1,000 people, and 26 Backyard Kids Clubs across the City of Clarksville.
Tim and the Hillsdale congregation didn’t just leave the walls. They burst through the walls with an explosion experienced in every corner and pocket of the community. They reached families who would have never walked through the doors of a church building. They reached families who would have never been invited to a traditional VBS.
If evangelism is the purpose of VBS we can not be satisfied with a traditional VBS that reaches only the families willing to come to us. If evangelism is the purpose of VBS we must take VBS to the families who will never come to us. Isn’t there a Scripture that tells us as believers to “GO” into the world – or at least into our communities.
I believe VBS continues to provide our greatest evangelistic opportunity to reach the world, but we must go to the world.
VBS must leave the walls.