Why we changed our mind on VBS

Why you should start doing VBS next year!

We did VBS for 5 years in a row and stopped doing them for the past 12 years because we weren’t accomplishing what we set out to accomplish with them. Last year we started to do them again here is why we started again and why you should do VBS as well.

  1. We live in a very pluralistic society that doesn’t value church but values traditions. There are many parents who have young kids who either don’t go to church or infrequently attend church but have great memories of VBS. They want their kids to have those some memories and will put their kids in VBS before taking them on the weekend.
  2. Having 15 hours in the VBS week to speak new truth or reinforce what is being taught at home is invaluable. The new regular attendees standard is now 12 to 24 Sundays a year. VBS gives you a nice chunk of time to drill down into core truth that kids need in the world we now live in.
  3. Partnering with parents starts with equipping parents. Doing VBS with this in mind makes VBS more valuable than a simple stand alone program.
  4. VBS has to be a whole church focus. It can’t be something your department does. I did a department focus VBS years ago and just finished a church driven VBS the difference is night and day.
  5. Reaching new families has to be a focus but not the whole focus. We want to reach new families but we also need to build foundations of the families we have. One of the reasons we write our own VBS is because we want a VBS that speaks to the specific culture and values of our church that no VBS curriculum could ever do. There are tons of great ones out there but for us, VBS is more than an outreach tool it’s a gospel shaping delivery device for the whole family.
  6. Our church has changed. We care about the weekend service still but we care more about intentional ways to help with spiritual formation and discipleship in a variety of ways outside the weekend service.

I have written posts about why VBS is no longer relevant, I was right and I was wrong. I was right because how we do VBS has to change and why we do VBS has to change. If how and why we do VBS changes it can be an amazing tool to reinforce the framework of your entire church. I was wrong to say that a method is no longer useful at all because it was no longer useful to me. So  I hope you pray about whether you should do VBS and if you do VBS evaluate why you do VBS.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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16 thoughts on “Why we changed our mind on VBS

  1. Hi Sam, I came to the same conclusion but didn’t want to focus on decorations but on content. So I chose a package that looked more like the VBS style Sunday morning and pumped it up a notch. I wanted to fight the previous “let down” that kids experience after VBS when they come to church. We had NO let down this year. So recommend that churches pump up Sunday’s before hitting VBS hard! Love your blog!

    • Terri totally agree. The weekend must be strong but I think we have to look for more places and more ways to disciple kids and help parents disciple kids.

  2. Great post, Sam.

    I’m curious if you saw many kids come back and keep coming back to your church after your VBS. If you did, what did you do? How were you intentional with connecting with parents?

    • Thanks David.

      Several families did come back the weekend after VBS. As for follow-up, I have never found a really great solution to VBS follow-up. It is a weak point I am working on this year and going forward. How have you followed up from VBS?

      • We do different events and use the VBS mailing list. We have done fall carnivals and shut them down 1/2 hour early to do a story time with all the kids. Last year someone found a great program that combined a festival with a sanctuary program. Fear Not at this website: http://childrensministry.org/estore/fear-not-service-event-combo-kit/

        We have also done Valentine events and brought in a Christian magician, Easter Eggs Hunts with a sanctuary program either before or after, and a Frozen Party with an evangelistic message. If we had the man power, I would do one event a quarter to keep “touching” the kids lives. We have also tried doing a family event and using the list.

  3. Sam,

    Can you expound more on number 4, “VBS has to be a whole church focus. It can’t be something your department does. I did a department focus VBS years ago and just finished a church driven VBS the difference is night and day”

    How was the VBS “church-driven” and how is that different than something the children’s ministry does?

  4. I have been dealing with the same issue. We have not had VBS for ten years. I still have families wanting VBS. It really makes me think, if a family is willing to leave a church over a three to five-day event, how committed are they to a church that is pouring into the family spiritually year around? We have been walking with these families and discussing with them that this spiritual journey is about steps of spiritual growth.
    VBS can be a good outreach tool, but I do not believe that it is effective. We challenge our people to invite people to church with whom they live, work and play with. This has been the most effective for us.

  5. I’ve been struggling trying deciding whether to do a VBS in my community, not at my church.
    I’ve done a Good News Kids Club once a month for 14 years. Park is mostly Hispanic, who don’t attend church.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.