Is VBS still an effective summer outreach? That’s a question that’s gotten some attention in the kidmin world over the last few years as many churches have changed or adapted their summer programing from what is commonly known as “Vacation Bible School” to other alternatives.
In a society whose needs and demands seem to constantly be changing, what’s the right thing for a church to do? Is VBS still an effective summer outreach?
In order to answer that question effectively, you first need to answer these 3 questions:
- What is the ultimate purpose you want to accomplish through your summer outreach?
- Is your primary goal giving the kids in your church something to do during the summer?
- Is your goal reaching out into the community and finding prospective kids and families for your church?
- Is your main goal trying to reach unsaved kids and share the gospel message with them?
- There’s no wrong answer, you just need to know what the answer is, so that you can best identify why you’re doing what you’re doing, and what is the best way to go about doing it.
- Is what you’re currently doing still working?
- Is your summer outreach programming outdated and in need of an upgrade?
- Is what you’re doing accomplishing its intended purpose?
- Is what you’re doing still generating excitement among the people of your church and community?
- Regardless of what you’re doing, are you trying new things each year to improve both your program and yourself?
- Even if what you are doing is still working, are you incorporating new ideas to keep our programming fresh and relevant?
- Have you mixed things up a bit so that your programs aren’t always predictable and routine?
Here are a few thoughts… My philosophy is this:
“Don’t hold on to traditions of the past at the expense of effectiveness in the present. Change is not always compromise.”
Sometimes we fear change because we know that doing something “different” can quickly be labeled as doing something “wrong”. But tradition doesn’t always equal truth. Just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it before” doesn’t mean that doing it a different way is wrong. Sometimes mixing things up can be a good change of pace, and especially if what you’re currently doing isn’t working for you. If so, quit doing it, and try something else that does, whether that be a different style of VBS, or something completely different altogether.
At our church, we’ve done VBS successfully for many years, and continue to do so. For us, it still seems to be the most highly effective tool we utilize every single year to reach the kids and parents of our community with the gospel. In fact, we reach more kids and parents during that week than any other all year long. It’s working for us, so we keep doing it. Why wouldn’t we?
However, there are many churches around the nation who are successfully doing alternative programs in the place of VBS, such as Kids and Family Crusades, VBX (Vacation Bible EXtreme), and Summer Sports Camps, as well as others. And if they have found these alternative to be what is highly effective for accomplishing their purpose, I say, go for it! Why wouldn’t they?
However, on the flip side, as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Don’t change something that’s working just for the sake of “change”. Just because some people may say something doesn’t work anymore doesn’t matter if it’s still working for you. Every church and every city has a different culture and set of needs. Get God’s vision for your church and your community, and don’t apologize for whatever it is that He’s called you to do this summer – whether its the same thing you’ve done for years, or even if it’s something new and “outside of the box.”
So the bottom line is really this, if VBS is still working effectively for your church, why would you stop doing it? However, if you’ve found something more effective for your church and community, why would you do anything else? There are so many varied options available today, and none of them are specifically right or wrong. It all boils down to what’s best for your church in your area to help you accomplish yourpurpose for having summer outreach at all in the first place. Once you get clear on that, you can get clear on all the rest.
We’re not called to be cookie-cutter Christians or ministries. Do what you believe God has called YOU to do… (Because what I’ve found true is this – God seems to delight in blessing those who get on board with His agenda for their ministry, regardless of what others are or aren’t doing.)
“God can do anything he chooses, and He chooses to work through people, particularly those who aren’t cemented in their own agenda.” – Roger Fields
And what God has called all of us to do is ultimately this – be as effective as possible at reaching more people with the life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus. Period.
So… what do you need to do?
- Try something completely new and different?
- Stick with VBS, but use a new curriculum, or add some fresh updates and changes to your program?
- Or keep doing what you’ve been doing, because hey, it’s still working!
If you’re looking for fresh ideas for VBS, right now for a limited time you can get one of our VBS curriculum bundles absolutely FREE (for use this year or any year) by simply subscribing to this blog! (You’ll receive a download link with all the files.) Whether you choose to use it for VBS or any other children’s ministry setting, we believe it will be a help to your ministry! It’s a complete bundle that includes 5 lessons, 5 complete PowerPoints, Daily Games, Skits, and More. If you’d like to check out our lineup of other great VBS themes offered by Kidz Blast Ministries, please click here. Also, please feel free to share this with anyone you know who could benefit from this offer.