I love Vacation Bible School! I love the opportunity and joy and energy that comes with it. We have a large VBS at FBC O’Fallon, IL. (This was our second year in a row to exceed 1,400 children and workers enrolled.) It takes a lot of work and effort and commitment on our part. It is taxing on our building and our volunteers and our staff. But we believe it is worth it. Here are just a few of the benefits of VBS.
1. Children hear the gospel. I love that we can tell boys and girls the message of the gospel. Many come who have never heard a clear presentation of the truth that Jesus is the Son of God who lived a sinless life, died the death we deserve and rose from the grave to conquer sin, death and hell. 34 children professed faith in Jesus Christ in VBS this year. My wife led a little girl to the Lord who was as sincere and serious as any adult we have ever seen.
2. Children learn the bible. What a joy to teach, sing and memorize the bible! Children who know little of the bible can learn so much in a week of VBS. I loved hearing my own grandchildren quoting and singing bible verses. This will benefit them for the rest of their lives. And a shout out to Lifeway for some super work in providing curriculum that emphasizes the teaching of God’s word. Learning more about the bible is an integral part of the VBS experience. I love that Bible is the middle name of VBS.
3. Volunteers get involved in ministry. It takes about 400 volunteers for us to do VBS right. Those adults and teenagers get a week of “hands on” ministry activity. They put ministry into practice. Volunteers teach and serve and care. For some, this is their very first ministry experience. They give up their time and their energy. (We do recommend vitamins for our teachers!) But they gain real life ministry to real life people with real life needs. Many of our teenagers assist in classrooms, recreation and such. This may be the first time they see that ministry applies to them as well as to adults.
4. Volunteers discover spiritual gifts and abilities. Our volunteers come out of VBS tired and drained. But they also come out of VBS with renewed enthusiasm for ministry and service. Many find gifts they didn’t know they had. What better way to find out how God has wired you than to get knee-deep in ministry? God often uses our service as a means of showing us more of what he wants us to do. Service allows us to see how he has gifted us and where he has called us.
5. Families discover people who care. Like most churches that do VBS, we try to connect with parents all week long. We have a big Family Night at the end of the week that allows parents to see a bit of what their children have learned. And, it serves the purpose of breaking down some barriers or stereotypes they may have regarding faith or the church. If nothing else, these families know that our church cares about them and their children.
6. The church sees new potential. VBS serves the purpose of showing our church a bit of the need and the potential we have. We see that we can rally for a big goal. We are reminded that we can do some big things when we work hard together for a common cause. We see that there are many people in our area who need to be reached with the message of the gospel. We are reminded that God put our church in this region for a reason and that we can make a difference here.
7. The church connects to the community. It is easy for a church to grow disconnected from the community in which it resides. If we are not careful, we begin to think our only purpose is to take care of those already in our church. The church needs to connect with people in the community and VBS helps us do that. The community is reminded that our church cares about them and their children. It helps us to minister to them in later times of crisis. It helps us become relevant to their lives. We learn names and faces and needs.
Vacation Bible School is hard work. It costs money and tracks dirt into the building. It takes great planning before and lots of clean up afterwards. That is all true.
But it also allows the church to make a lasting impact. It allows us to touch lives, teach truths and serve others.
So, count me in for next year!