What else is so good about VBS? Here are three more points to consider:
3. VBS is a fellowship tool. Even if you have low attendance and no children come to Christ, VBS is not a waste. It’s a time to build community, to work together, to laugh together. VBS can be a tremendous boost to the moral of your congregation because together, they made something happen. I’ve seen new friendships blossom and old wounds heel as people work side by side together and learn to appreciate the gifts God has given each one of them.
As we plan for VBS, we too often focus on the preparations for the kids. But a few extra small touches will make your staff feel wanted and appreciated. Promote this by having a place for staff to come when they aren’t doing anything. Have snacks other than what you serve the kids for your staff.. Provide lunch after a morning session or supper before an evening session so tired workers don’t have to stress over fixing food for their family too.. Have a work day before and after VBS. Have a staff prayer time before each session. When you have a well-cared for staff, they will outdo themselves in making your VBS program the best ever.
4. VBS is a worship tool. VBS is such a faith builder. You will see God work in ways you haven’t noticed before as He provides staff, children and supplies. You’ll see children and staff grow in their faith and their confidence that God can use them through His mighty power. Every time you say, “Wow! Look what God did this time,” you will be worshipping Him. Promote this by having a VBS praise service for your staff about a week after VBS so staff can share how they saw God at work throughout the week. Have a praise box centrally located so staff can jot a quick note of “what good thing happened today.”
The singing at VBS is some of the most exciting singing I hear in church. Perhaps it’s because everyone is more open to learning new songs and those songs are song over and over until they stick in everyone’s minds. Don’t compromise this part of your program! Be willing to spend the money on the CD’s or video. Choose your song leader wisely. Have a practice session with your song, sound and audio equipment people before VBS. Teach one or two of the songs several weeks before in children’s church or to the entire congregation. Pick your song leader wisely, someone who has a good, clear singing voice and an infectious enthusiasm.
5.VBS is a mission tool. Supporting a mission is one of my favorite parts of VBS. What a spirit of community as the children work together to reach a goal. I see this tool deemphasized which saddens me. Often VBS programs just want to support a local benevolence cause, which is needed, but you can do so much more. VBS is a great chance to introduce foreign missions and the world’s need for Jesus to your children.
I just love all the creative things you can do to promote your mission time. Choose tangible projects the children can grasp. It’s best if you have a specific goal in mind. One year, we decided to “buy a cow” for a needy family in Kosavo. Someone had the great idea that I should dress up in a cow costume. Yep. Complete with udders. We needed $700, so we made up a poster with a picture of a cow, divided the cow into seven parts and for every hundred dollars, we would place a piece of the cow puzzle on the poster. Excitement ran high that year and for weeks afterwards, I was known as the “Cow Lady.” We raised almost $900 and we only had about 30 children in our VBS! The entire congregation became informed and excited about “the cow project.”
Another time, we sponsored a missionary in Hong Kong, the minister’s son. Our minister, who had just visited his son, was the missionary speaker. He got a wide pickle jar and a small Buddha statue which he put inside the pickle jar. The theme became, “Bury the Buddha.” At first it didn’t seem like a good idea because people brought mostly pennies, realizing that would cover Buddha faster. The total offering was down that year. But children and adults were more informed about Gary’s work and our congregation continued to support Gary and his family past VBS.
The tools of VBS: missions, evangelism, fellowship, worship and discipleship. Hey, this sounds like Rick Warren’s five purposes in The Purpose Driven Church! VBS programs have been fulfilling these five purposes long before Warren wrote his book, because as Warren so clearly emphasizes, these tools are straight from the Bible. VBS is a biblically sound, effective program for reaching children with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But do we have to do it the way we’ve always done it? I’ll discuss that in my next blog entry.