Back in December as I was preparing for a January meeting with VBS leaders from all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico, and decided to share 11 things I have learned during my 11 years as LifeWay's VBS Ministry Specialist. I have been sharing those 11 points with you here since January 11.
The challenge was not creating a list of topics, but settling on only 11. After several days of editing the list I arrived at, and wrote individual posts, on the following:
- VBS must have a clear purpose
- VBS must proclaim the gospel
- VBS must be evangelistic
- VBS must leave the walls
- VBS must reach the family
- VBS must not be complacent
- VBS must provide training
- VBS is transformational
- You must continue learning
- You are highly contagious
- The pastor must lead
None of these points are new or surprising, and instead of something I learned they are actually points that have been reaffirmed over and over. They are the points I spoke about the most as I talked with VBS leaders and lead training sessions.
As I wrote earlier, keeping the list to 11 points was the challenge. Following are 15 additional things I learned during my 11 years as your VBS ministry partner:
- Only a small percentage of the community will ever attend a traditional VBS on a church campus. We must continue looking for opportunities to take the gospel to the community and world.
- There is great power in the repetitiveness of a three-hour per day, five-day VBS. As churches decrease the number of hours and the number of days there has been a decrease in the number of professions of faith.
- Morning VBS appears to be more successful than evening VBS at reaching unchurched kids and families.
- The biggest challenge of VBS continues to be continuing connections/relationships created during the week of VBS.
- VBS can jump start a declining/dying congregation.
- A congregation that abandons VBS sends the message that it is no longer interested in reaching kids and families.
- A VBS director or pastor can not do it alone. He must build a VBS team.
- Every association of churches has at least one VBS groupie who would be willing to take the lead in coaching and inspiring other churches.
- VBS can change the world - one kid at a time.
- VBS is Kingdom work.
- Themes are like wrapping paper on a box. What is on the inside is much more important than the wrapping. There are many fun themes produced each year that have no evangelistic substance.
- The one essential of VBS is God's Word.
- Preparation is essential for a transformational event. VBS takes work.
- Word of mouth is still the best way to promote VBS. Create a great experience and word of mouth will be your most successful source of advertising.