Is VBS Worth the Investment?

Written by Harold Winter
February 21, 2023

Many churches that had traditionally offered Vacation Bible School are now questioning whether or not it is worth the investment.

Even though snow is still on the ground in many places, it is the perfect time of year to begin planning for summer ministries. Many churches that had traditionally offered Vacation Bible School are now questioning whether or not to bring it back.

  • Church leaders should ask and answer some key questions before making the decision:
Five Questions to Ask about Vbs Ministry
Question 1: Is Vbs Really Worth Everyone’s Time?
  • VBS week and all the preparation leading up to it can be exhausting to pastors, staff, and volunteers. Coordinating decorations, games, snacks, volunteers, worship, and teaching takes a lot of time, resources, and energy.
  • Leaders need to evaluate if volunteers and participants are growing in their relationship with the Lord and with each other as a result of VBS. Are they developing spiritual disciplines? Are they growing in the fruit of the Spirit? Are people coming to faith? If so, VBS is worth the investment!
Question 2: Are Vbs Lessons Really Worth Teaching?
  • Some VBS material contains questionable biblical and theological teaching. It is not uncommon to find Bible stories ripped from the Scriptural narrative of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Renewal and twisted into simplistic, moralistic lessons.
  • Church leaders must carefully select a VBS curriculum that is centered around the Gospel of Jesus and points children to salvation that is by grace alone through faith alone. If the material is written well and taught well, VBS is worth the investment!
Question 3: Is Vbs Worship Really Bait-and-Switch?
  • At VBS, enthusiastic teens lead kids in singing high-energy songs with whole-body engagement. However, after the week is over, the church never sings these powerful songs again. At VBS, teaching is filled with fun and opportunities for interaction. However, preaching on the other 51 weeks could not be more different.
  • We must consider how to close this gap. Maybe our regular sermons and worship should look, sound, and feel a little more like VBS, and maybe VBS should feel a little more similar to a regular church service? If we can avoid the bait-and-switch feeling, VBS is worth the investment!
Question 4: Is Vbs Really an on Ramp to a Journey of Faith?
  • Children come to VBS and almost always leave with a smile on their faces. What’s not to love about snacks, crafts, singing, and storytelling? But is VBS free daycare, or do children really leave with faith in Jesus as their Savior, God as their Father, and the church as their spiritual family?
  • Church leaders should evaluate how well VBS is working to engage kids in the ongoing life of a church. If it is leading kids and their families to become fully engaged in weekly worship services, Bible studies, Sunday school, boys’ and girls’ clubs, and other ministries, VBS is worth the investment!
Question 5: Does Vbs Really Change Anyone’s Life?
  • All of these questions really boil down to this final one. If VBS is changing people’s lives, it is worth the investment.

I want to end by sharing the story of 8-year-old Josh and 7-year-old Sam (names changed).

  • Josh and Sam came to church with their grandparents after their birth mother lost custody of them because of her illegal drug use. The first time they attended Sunday School, they hit each other and used obscene language. It was so bad that another family stopped sending their kids to Sunday School.
  • A year later, Josh and Sam are now very different people. Their grandparents gave them stability, a healthy diet, healthy rules, and a healthy school. But the real turning point for both boys was at VBS when a leader (and the Holy Spirit) invited and prompted them to “be on Jesus’ team.” I will never forget their enthusiasm when they ran up to me at the next Sunday service to tell me of their newfound faith in Jesus.
  • If all the effort VBS required was only for the sake of those two boys, the whole exhausting project was worth it. Josh and Sam are examples of how God uses VBS to make disciples for Jesus. Perhaps you know of more examples and can tell more amazing stories of how God used VBS for personal transformation and faith.
Putting this week’s newsletter in action
Editor’s Note:

Hey, it’s Pastor Bill writing now. I was inspired by Pastor Harold’s idea that we should close the gap between VBS worship and a typical Sunday at church.

  • This week, I decided to add some fun, interactive elements to my sermon. Check out this two-minute clip!
  • Have you tried something similar? How did it go? Let us know!

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