It Must Be Summer; VBS is Approaching!

It Must Be Summer; VBS is Approaching!

This summer across America, large and small churches in big cities and small hamlets will be holding what is perhaps the greatest evangelistic rally ever, Vacation Bible School. If you doubt that, consider this fact from the American Bible Society, which states that 83% of people who come to Christ do so between the ages of 4 and 14. That is VBS’s prime demographic.

If you further doubt the significance of VBS, get up next Sunday during your worship services and ask this simple question. How many of you came to Christ between 4 and 14? Then ask how many of you came to know Christ as a result of Vacation Bible School.

With summer approaching, I thought I would interview my old classmate, Pastor Greg Fine of FBC Higginsville. Greg and I graduated from High School together in Tulsa in 19 none of your business! First, Higginsville puts a lot of attention on VBS. Here are the interview questions I sent to Greg and his response.

1. How is your church currently using VBS?

Pastor Greg:  We still conduct VBS for one full week in the mornings, usually in July. It is a major outreach event for our church in addition to being a great ministry to our own children. We will have as many children from the community (many from other churches) as we have First Baptist kids. In a small community, kids tend to attend all the different churches’ VBS as are available. We may be the only church that still does VBS during the day. Most other churches do an evening VBS and usually not a full five days.

2. Some of my fondest memories of VBS were the offering. I know I am the Stewardship guy, but I found that taking up an offering teaches the value. Do you take up a VBS Offering?

Pastor Greg:  We still collect an offering during VBS for missions. We usually highlight a local mission/ministry. We have a local food pantry we have helped, a fund that assists with utility bills, and we have also given to the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.

3. VBS for Stewardship Education

Pastor Greg:  We will talk about the offering and what it is being used for in our opening worship, but that would be the extent of the emphasis. I think promoting VBS for stewardship education is important because it connects in such a powerful way the reason for giving – it makes ministry and outreach like VBS possible. It is a very visible, tangible opportunity to connect their financial gifts to be a blessing to our community. We use VBS primarily for evangelism and discipleship, but I can see the value in teaching the next generation the joy of generosity.

If the question is about using VBS for Stewardship Education in the church, then yes, we do. I will talk about the financial investment we make in VBS through the church budget, and when people give to the church, they are making ministries like VBS possible. I will talk about the donations people bring for snacks for VBS and the donation of time from volunteers. I will reference VBS in our Quarterly Giving Statements prior to VBS and after VBS. The emphasis is primarily done in worship prior to the offering – our missional giving focus.

4. Sum up for us the challenges you face and any final thoughts you have on VBS.

    Pastor Greg:  We have been blessed with sufficient volunteers so far to continue offering VBS in the mornings. We have not seen attendance rebound from pre-covid attendance, and we are struggling some with volunteers for this year. I trust that they will volunteer, and we will be fully staffed. I do believe VBS is an excellent outreach ministry for the church that is focused on being a blessing to the community. As such, it is a great event to use to encourage members to financially support the work of the church.

    Thanks, Greg, and thank the members of FBC Higginsville for making VBS a priority. We will pray that God blesses your community and your church through this year’s VBS.

    As I wrote this, I was reminded of an African American SBC church I worked with right before Covid. I had helped them raise funds for a new multipurpose worship center a decade earlier. Part of the Master Plan was a sanctuary. Yet, what the church needed was a children’s space, not a sanctuary. I had talked with many of the key members who felt the pastor was failing to hold up his end of the bargain, as the sanctuary was always communicated as the next project.

    On my advice, we gathered all the leaders of the church one Saturday morning. The Building Committee walked them through the proposed project. I was up next, followed by the pastor. I rose and spoke for only two to three minutes. Here is what I said.

    “The American Bible Society found that 83% of people who come to Christ do so between the ages of 4 and 14. How many of y’all (I was in TX) got saved during those ages?” All across the sanctuary, hands went up. I then said, “Since this is true, why do so many churches skip budgeting for children’s ministries? If the ages of 4 and 14 are our prime targets for evangelism, doesn’t it make sense that y’all build space for children?” I paused for a few seconds for dramatic effort and laid the mic on the podium for the pastor to come and cast the vision for the project.

    Pastor, I would say the same to you and your members. One key that Southern Baptists have used for generations now is Vacation Bible School. Summer is fast approaching. Are you ready for VBS?

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