For me a conversation about local church ministry does not take long until the subject of VBS (Vacation Bible School) comes around. It is no surprise to anyone who knows me and my story, that I am a huge fan of VBS.
I came to saving faith through the ministry of VBS and love to tell how thousands of lives are transformed each and every year through this powerful outreach. I will always say “Yes” to VBS.
But if I put my bias aside and attempt to critically, analytically evaluate the benefits of VBS, I have discovered that this ministry does some things that other ministries simply do not. VBS has some advantages, strategically, that most ministries in the local church don’t even compare to.
1. VBS is highly intergenerational. Meaning all age groups, both young and old, and everything in the middle, interact and spend time together for one week. They worship together, study together, fellowship together, and serve together. What other ministry effort joins hundreds of volunteers from all ages for one week and structures an experience where they get to know one another and serve as one big, happy family? I can not think of anything we present have that creates intergenerational connections as much as VBS.
2. VBS is very collaborative. When kids ministry leaders attempt to pull off a VBS week, it requires significant time planning, collaborating and communicating together. There are various teams, such as preschool, crafts, music, food, administration, follow-up, etc, all working together to make sure all the details are managed. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds talk and share ideas together about what they should do and what they should avoid. I would have to believe this week is the most collaborative ministry event on the church calendar.
3. VBS is intentionally evangelistic. It goes without saying that VBS far outpaces most other ministry efforts when it comes to intentional evangelism. I have heard a leading VBS expert (from my SBC tribe) say that for the past 30 years there has not been any other ministry effort even come close to the number of salvations that VBS has seen. Not revival meetings, not disaster relief, not food and clothing ministries come close.
4. VBS is one of the remaining creative outlets in the church. With the ending of the Easter pageants and Christmas plays, there are not many outlets left in church life where Christian people are encouraged to use their artistic gifts. There are not times when sets are built, rooms are elaborately decorated, costumes are pulled out and put to use, paint brushes and construction paper fly wildly. The Creator God has created us to be mini-creators, but there are not many ways to utilize these gift any more, particularly in the visual arts. VBS provides this creative outlet each and every year.
5. Lastly, VBS has service opportunities for every believer in Christ, no matter their spiritual maturity level. Everyone can serve somewhere. Whether you have been a Christian for less than a year or you are nearing the time when you will see Jesus face to face, VBS has a place for you to serve.
When you put these 5 things up against almost every other ministry venue in the local church, VBS stands above. While the music ministry is intergenerational, it is not intentionally evangelistic. While Sunday School and small groups are very collaborative, those ministry venues are not overtly creative. VBS stands above. It has benefits that other ministries do not have.
So if you are a longtime VBS’er, I commend you to not give up. If your church hasn’t done VBS in a while, consider bringing it back and see what it provides. If you have never served in VBS, commit to giving it a chance in 2015. I believe you will see that it is absolutely worth it.