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 programming 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 three questions:
1. 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.
2. 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Is your summer outreach programming outdated and in need of an upgrade?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?
3. 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.