Do Vacation Bible Schools need an Upgrade?

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Is it time for a change in one of our most revered children’s ministry activities in the local church—the annual vacation Bible School, better known as VBS? KIMI Ohio’s director, Alicia White, has a new perspective on an old idea. She writes:

Do Vacation Bible Schools need an Upgrade?

“The traditional Vacation Bible School, or VBS for short, was established to create a summer intense Bible study or discipleship course for children who already attended church and desired to spend more time than what was allotted in a regular service setting, or what they could do during the school season.

The movement of VBS caught on quite well, but like with any movement, the longer it lasted was the more it was changed to adjust to the times and needs of each generation that came after the first. Today VBS is much shorter than the original time of five weeks, usually one week or less, and the focus in some ways has become more evangelistic in nature verses discipleship. Both goals, discipleship and evangelism, are equally important but do not come without their set of challenges when focusing on solely children.

Conversions vs. Discipleship

One of the problems with evangelizing just children is that no matter how saved and how excited you get them about starting their walk with Jesus, they are still at the mercy of a mom and dad who have to desire to take them to church on a regular bases, and most importantly desire to raise them in a Christian home with Christian principals.

Although I firmly believe a child can lead their parents to Christ, it certainty is a harder road to take and there is a greater chance that the seed you have planted will fall away from a child’ heart who lives in a home not following Christ. Salvation without being followed by discipleship will yield little fruit for these children. Whereas if you can bring the whole family in at one time to receive the message of Christ and salvation, you can change a whole home and guarantee the family will come back to be discipled.

Let’s now look at the discipleship aspects of VBS. In this day and age, businesses, technology has disassociated us from relationship in our family, and broken homes, have disintegrated family devotion and worship time. And in the church we find ourselves separated by age group and programs that departmentalize families to the point that they never worship together in a way that both age groups learn and grow from it.

Can the Fruit of VBS be Increased?

So in looking at VBS in the now, how much more fruit would we see to create a discipleship event for the whole family together? Discipleship is learning and understanding that doesn’t just affect our church life; it affects our lifestyle, our home, and the morals and fundamental beliefs that directs our every decision. In this culture where families literally have to fight tooth and nail to keep Jesus the center of their home, a family VBS offers a unique opportunity for the families of your church to set apart three days to learn and focus on Jesus together; and potentially inspire families to make this the beginning of family worship and devotion at home.

The need for family worship has never been greater than now…why not use the biggest event of the summer to minister and focus in on this need?”

Thank you, Alicia.

We at Kids in Ministry have felt this way from the beginning. In fact, when first contemplating on starting Kids in Ministry International in 2001, I wondered what I would do. I remember telling the Lord, “if you’re just looking for another little old lady to hold vacation Bible school’s around the country, keep looking. I’m not your girl.”

It was then the Holy Spirit dropped in my heart, “Well, what about holding schools of ministry for kids?” The idea captured my heart! And that’s how Kids in Ministry began – not holding vacation Bible schools, but holding family conferences where children were equipped for the work of the ministry.

Summer is before us. It’s time for you to begin planning what you will do with your children this year in the local church. We strongly urge you to consider holding a family event, rather than just a children’s event.


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