Lately, as I have been working on some personal health goals, I keep getting asked, “What is your why?” It has been a good question. Slowing down to think about what motivates me to do the hard work on these goals has helped me to identify the most important reasons, and it has helped me stay focused.
I’ve been asking myself this same question as I’m starting to plan for VBS. I’ve probably organized 30 summer VBS programs over the years, and each time I still get excited picking out the curriculum and the theme. However, after that many, it can become an exercise in routine without much thought to the “why.” So, this year I’m asking myself, “What are the biggest reasons I think VBS is an important ministry? Why do we take all this time to plan and prepare for this week? Why are we putting the resources of time, energy, people, and money into this endeavor?”
One of the things I love about VBS is how versatile it can be. I love that you pick a theme and develop a discipleship program around it. The theme allows us to have memory-making moments for the children that help them remember the truths they have been taught throughout the week. I love that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a 3-day, 4-day, or 5-day program, or whether it’s in the evening or morning. We can call it VBS or camp or Backyard Bible Club, and we can do it outside in a park or inside a church. No matter the format or the theme, it is an amazing summer discipleship opportunity for our preschoolers and elementary children!
Here are my five top reasons “why” to stay excited about this yearly ministry.
Preschoolers and elementary kids need a summer camp experience for discipleship too—a week where they concentrate on the truths of God’s Word and building community within their church family. No matter how you do your VBS program or summer camp, the ultimate “why” for our church kids is to continue to encourage them to grow in their faith.
Whether the kids are from our churches or from the community, they all need to hear the gospel presented clearly. Giving the children a chance to respond to the call of the gospel is an integral and important piece of a summer discipleship program. I often get to read our new members’ informational forms. Repeatedly, people indicate that they came to faith at a VBS. In this ministry, we can slow down, share the gospel clearly, and give them the opportunity to pray to receive Jesus as their Savior.
When grandparents, parents, teens, and children all do ministry together, relationships are formed. Friendships are made. Community is built. VBS is possible because the church commits to doing ministry together. This intergenerational ministry then becomes a beautiful picture of what happens when the family of believers serves Jesus and children.
VBS gives our families and children a chance to invite and include their friends from neighborhoods, schools, and activities. Once their friends come to VBS, they get comfortable enough to visit our church afterward. VBS also gives us a chance to bring in families who are just looking for some kind of summer daycare/camp for their kids to keep them busy. This is a wonderful thing because it lets us introduce them to the church, to the gospel, and to our faith community in a fun, healthy way.
The training possibilities for VBS are endless. Training in our safety policies is extremely important for VBS, but those policies carry over into the rest of the year as more people are aware of them. Middle school and high school students will benefit from having responsibilities at VBS. They should be encouraged to use their gifts and talents in music, drama, snacks, recreation, and teaching. While I place good mentors around them, they are more than capable of serving the Lord’s church in significant ways in VBS. This helps them develop a heart for serving the church and gives them the skills to do so! VBS has also become a place where I find new teachers and helpers for the rest of the year. In training for VBS, I look for volunteers who thrive in their roles, and then they are invited to serve with us in other areas after VBS is over.
The date for our VBS is set. The curriculum is picked. The recruiting of volunteers has begun! And musing over these “whys” has helped me remember the importance of this summer discipleship ministry!
Visit Sherry’s training video on this subject on our children’s ministry website.