Vacation Bible School, commonly known as VBS, is an intensive week or two week long program held in the summer that churches have used over the last century to teach children about Jesus and to reach out to unchurched children in the community. In the beginning, the program copied Sunday School classes with the addition of a snack time, crafts, singing and a mission project. Wikipedia says that VBS was started in 1894 because teachers wanted to have more time to teach children religious education in the summer months when children were more available.
VBS has changed tremendously over the years as churches have tried to freshen this century old program. But, in recent years, I’ve heard discouragement and doubts about VBS. Some people say VBS is a dying program. Others wonder what’s the use of their church holding VBS? After all, the same group of children hop from one church’s VBS program to the next. Is this really useful as an evangelistic tool? Yet other churches, discouraged by low attendance, a lack of resources to “do it up big” like the themed curricula suggests, or the lack of volunteers, have collaborated with other churches, sacrificing their chance to use VBS as a tool for church growth, softening their own doctrinal stance, and acquiescing to support a local community service instead of supporting one of their own foreign missionaries.
Since I write Vacation Bible School curriculum for Standard Publishing, you can probably guess how I feel about VBS. But let me say it bluntly just in case you wonder how I really feel about VBS. And it’s not just because I write the curriculum.
I’m for YOUR church sponsoring your OWN VBS.
Why am I so strong about a century old program? What’s so good about VBS? Should this tried and true program be changed to meet the changing needs, interests and time schedules of today’s kids? If so, how? I’ll answer these questions in the next few posts. I also intend to do a comparison of this years VBS curriculum near the end of February and will offer some tips on how you can revitalize VBS for your church.