This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue.
By Peg Arnold
Peg Arnold is VBS editor for Regular Baptist Press, www.RegularBaptistPress.org.
Vacation Bible School is more than a few days of fun for kids and more than a week of Bible stories and crafts, games and snacks, singing, laughter, and lots of fun. VBS can be an effective outreach ministry of your church.
Meaningful, Effective Ministry
VBS offers your church the opportunity for exciting, meaningful ministry. Using your Bible and fun, creative activities, you can make an eternal difference in the lives of students. Some may come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Many will learn to love God more and, as a result, will grow in their desire to obey and serve Him.
You can have the opportunity to introduce a child to the God who created the universe and loves each of us. You can challenge young people to joyfully choose to love, obey, and serve God. Discovering God’s love is a life-changing experience, an adventure with eternal impact.
Knowing that time and money are limited, churches evaluate each potential program. Today’s busy people want to know, “Where can I effectively invest my life?” They want to invest their time in effective ministry that will make a difference in the lives of real people. Your VBS can be a ministry with a mission—a mission to reach out and change lives.
Three Keys to Successful Ministry
- Setting goals is one key to a successful Vacation Bible School.
It is hard to have a successful VBS if you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish. Take time to pray and set goals. Ask how this ministry will glorify God and touch lives for Him. How does VBS contribute to meeting the goals of your church? What materials and methods will best help us meet your goals?
Once you know your goals, you can evaluate VBS programs and choose the one that will best help you accomplish them. Seven common goals are:
* Putting on an exciting VBS program that will attract young people to VBS
* Presenting solid Bible content
* Presenting the gospel
* Leading children into a relationship with God
* Encouraging Christian growth
* Reaching the families of the young people who attend
* Training church workers
- Another key to a successful VBS is to keep the goals before your workers and the church.
Don’t keep your goals a secret. Write your goals down and display them. Keep your church people informed so they can participate in prayer, planning, and preparation for a successful VBS that will meet the unique goals of your church. Pray together that God will prepare your students’ hearts and work in them in a life-changing way.
VBS workers are faced with a continuous series of choices. Remembering your VBS goals will affect their decisions. For example, “During snack time, will I talk with a student about our loving God who can and does transform lives? Oh, yes. One of our goals is that lives would be changed and that students would develop a correct relationship with God.”
Another decision might be, “In the minutes before VBS begins, will I chat with other workers and good friends from church? Or will I make a point of getting to know some of the parents who are dropping their kids off for VBS?” If one of your VBS goals is to reach the families (not just the VBS children), familiarity with your goals will guide that decision.
- Once you have established your goals, you need a strategy for accomplishing them.
This is the third key to a successful VBS. For example, if reaching out to families and inviting them into the church is one of your goals, develop a strategy for making visitors feel at home.
Few families are brave enough to show up at the front door on the Sunday after VBS with no idea where each member of the family should go. Brainstorm for ways to make visitors feel welcome. In a conspicuous place, post a map of your church with classrooms labeled according to age level and showing the location of restrooms. Be sure students know where they would go if they came back on a Sunday. Have lots of friendly greeters in place to help visitors.
VBS is not a stand-alone program. When the exciting days of VBS are over, one church goal is still to reach neighborhood families. People are more likely to return to your church if they know someone there.
Invite all your VBS families for an all-church picnic shortly after the close of VBS. In your Sunday School classes, remind the church family that the goal of this picnic is to interest families in attending your church. This is an opportunity for interacting with guests as well as fellowshipping among yourselves.
Encourage your church families to begin friendships with VBS families. Encourage VBS workers to team up with one or two other families and plan an informal get together with a VBS family. Have a backyard barbecue, go out for ice cream, or go to the zoo or to a ball game—whatever your family enjoys doing. VBS can be a nonthreatening way to introduce people in your area to your church and its ministries.
Relationships can begin with families and continue to grow after VBS is over, helping meet your church’s goal of drawing local families into the church.
When VBS is over, your set of goals can help you evaluate your VBS and plan for next year. As you pray and plan and work, God will be glorified!