By Jenny Whitaker
Last summer time, Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) across the nation have been largely both finished just about, in properties and neighborhoods, or under no circumstances. I really like VBS, and the concept of cancelling it—for any cause—was by no means an possibility.
We needed to discover a option to do VBS as a result of it’s an necessary and fruitful device within the fingers of the native church, particularly at the present time when statistics present that the common common church attender is coming to church one to a few instances a month versus one to a few instances every week simply a few many years in the past (It’s Worth It, pp. 107-18).
Still, the considered attempting to do a digital VBS appeared daunting. As I believed concerning the many small church buildings round our group and area, I questioned if digital VBS was even a risk for a lot of of them. So I reached out to a few of these native church buildings and requested in the event that they’d be prepared to accomplice collectively to achieve as many children as potential, and graciously, they mentioned sure!
I used to be amongst a small group of leaders who hosted a digital VBS for greater than 45 church buildings from across the nation. We know of no less than two youngsters who accepted Christ that week, and I’m sure many extra seeds have been planted not solely within the hearts of the kids who participated, however within the households uncovered to the gospel we shared every single day that week.
Without that partnership, what we did wouldn’t have been potential—not for my church or for the numerous others who partnered with us.
This yr, I’ve traveled throughout my state, Florida, and talked to different children ministry and VBS leaders across the nation, and whereas many people are opening or starting to open again up for in-person ministry, VBS continues to be on the chopping block for a lot of church buildings because of an absence of volunteers, finances sources, or maybe different causes.
Even earlier than the pandemic, 61% of church buildings didn’t host a VBS because of an absence of academics and volunteers (It’s Worth It, web page 98). How many extra church buildings shall be compelled to cancel VBS this yr for a similar cause?
Based on what we study from Lifeway Research’s 2018 research on VBS, I’d argue that we will’t afford to cancel VBS this summer time, for plenty of causes. But most significantly, VBS is without doubt one of the largest evangelical outreach alternatives a church may have in a given yr.
Additionally, even within the COVID-era, with its lack of volunteers and decrease attendance numbers, VBS is without doubt one of the solely occasions all yr lengthy that gives discipleship engagement and mobilization for all the church physique; there’s a approach for everybody in your church to become involved.
This Lifeway Research research additionally revealed that 80% of these attending church a number of instances per thirty days imagine they’ve a private accountability to share their religion, however solely 39% of persons are doing so. VBS is the proper alternative for folks to do what they suppose they must be doing.
And in 2018, Cigna discovered that youthful generations reported they have been the loneliest technology, with loneliness ranges reaching epidemic ranges. How a lot worse should that statistic be given the isolation children around the globe have confronted this previous yr because of COVID? Kids are in want of connection, even whether it is just about or on a smaller scale, and the church has a possibility to supply it this summer time by means of VBS.
If cancelling isn’t an possibility, what ought to native church do in the event that they don’t have the sources to host VBS this summer time? I say the answer is working with different native church buildings for a mixed gospel-focused effort.
It looks as if an apparent resolution, however working collectively comes with its personal set of challenges. Logistics apart, we should admit that working collectively would require some changes on the a part of the native church in terms of how we outline success.
VBS is commonly a ministry that gives the numbers and metrics that many people worth and infrequently use to measure our success in a given yr: How many unchurched folks locally did we attain? How many church prospects have been recognized? How many individuals have been reached by the gospel by means of the church? How many baptisms did we do?
These metrics aren’t dangerous. In reality, these are the very metrics we’re utilizing to point out how beneficial VBS is to the ministry of the native church. But when these metrics maintain us from working collectively as a result of they may decrease or alter our numbers, then maybe we have to rethink how a lot worth we put into them.
In 2017, VBS stories confirmed that greater than 2.4 million folks have been enrolled in Vacation Bible School, and that of these, 65,301 salvation choices have been made, and 160,926 church prospects have been recognized (It’s Worth It, web page 73). Those numbers aren’t more likely to change if we give folks the chance to attend VBS.
That mentioned, working collectively would require some creativity and suppleness in terms of reporting the victories, in addition to launching a profitable follow-up technique. Follow-up is a essential a part of Vacation Bible School. It is actually a mission journey in your yard. And like all mission journey, you will need to prolong that week of discipleship by connecting the unchurched and new believers with a neighborhood church.
Last yr, our staff deliberate with the top in thoughts. By realizing the significance of connecting folks to the native church after VBS, we developed a technique we felt would greatest serve these we have been ministering. As folks registered, we made positive to get their deal with, and based mostly on their proximity to a given church, we shared the data of any household with out a church dwelling to the church closest to them and let that church do the follow-up. Did it alter our numbers? Of course. Was it price it? Absolutely. But what does working collectively seem like? And how can we do it efficiently?
I want there was a method each church might comply with, however like something in ministry, it actually is dependent upon your demographics, the group you’re serving, and what items God has blessed your particular church with.
For our church, we’re struggling to search out sufficient volunteers to employees the identical measurement VBS as we’ve hosted up to now. Truthfully, even with decreasing the dimensions of our VBS, we’re struggling to get sufficient volunteers—and that’s not unusual this yr. Almost each different youngsters’s chief I’ve talked with has the same story.
What we do have, nonetheless, is a facility that may home lots of of children, if we will discover the volunteers to show and serve them. By merely partnering with one or two smaller church buildings in our group, we will safely welcome as many children from our group as will come by utilizing the mixed staff of volunteers from our three church buildings.
We’ll get inventive about figuring out prospects, we’ll rejoice each little one who makes a salvation resolution and fear about whose report it is going to go on later, and perhaps we’ll get inventive about baptisms and have a joint service in the future to see all our VBS children comply with by means of within the step of obedience collectively. The level is that this: We’ll work collectively in humble submission to the Father to additional His Kingdom as a substitute of getting caught up within the progress of our particular person church buildings.
At VBS, statistics present it’s not about if we attain a toddler for Christ; it’s about how many we’ll attain. The 2018 Lifeway Research research confirmed that 95% of American mother and father agreed that VBS positively influenced their little one’s religious progress. With that a lot fruitfulness, we will’t afford to cancel VBS with out placing up a combat. And on this battle, we’re stronger collectively than we’ll ever be aside—particularly with the challenges we face on this season of ministry.
Whether you pool human or monetary sources with different native church buildings and do VBS in individual, just about, in a neighborhood, at dwelling, or some mixture of the above, VBS provides a possibility in contrast to another ministry all yr. Children and households want to attach with Jesus and the native church; it’s price contemplating how working collectively could make VBS potential throughout a summer time when it would in any other case not be.
Lifeway provides quite a few sources to assist equip VBS leaders to do VBS strategically on this season of ministry. To discover these sources and extra for a “kids ministry from anywhere” time go to lifeway.com/kmfa.
This publish first appeared on lifewayresearch.com
Jenny is the kids and household ministry director of Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla., the place she lives together with her husband and three youngsters. Jenny is a author for Lifeway Kids curriculum and enjoys coaching youngsters’s ministry leaders throughout the state of Florida.