Thursday, August 09, 2007

Final VBS thoughts

I wrote this last week during VBS - just some thoughts in the middle of a good VBS
Vacation Bible School this year has been terrific. We have a terrific group of volunteers, a wonderful leadership team, record attendance and a fun theme – Sonforce Kids. As of this writing (Wednesday morning) we have averaged 250 kids a night and over 300 kids have come at least once. Those who know me well know I am reflective and analytical and this is a good time for me to think through and then re-think through the reasons why we do VBS.
So what are the positives of Vacation Bible School? For many people kids getting saved is the best thing. I really pray this happens but if you know me you know I have also developed the philosophy that for kids salvation is more of an ongoing process rather than an earth-shaking event. The key is long term exposure to the truth and love of Christ rather than simply repeating a prayer. The Bible uses words like believe and trust when it comes to salvation and for kids those things don’t happen in one event. They grow into them. So VBS is another chance to help kids grow in their belief and trust in Jesus.
There are other great things that happen at VBS. It is a chance for lots of people who can’t normally volunteer in kid’s ministry to be exposed to what we do. Kids in the Roanoke Valley love to invite their friends to VBS. I am really proud of the first class carnival we put on every year at the end of VBS. It is so great to see so many families form the church and community enjoying this evening. I love the high energy worship of a room full of bouncing kids. It helps some new kids develop friendships in the church. Wow lots of great things!
So what do I not like about VBS - a couple of things. First of all are finances. We spend about 28% of our yearly budget on one week – VBS (plus a couple extra thousand from VBS offerings and concessions sales). More than Awana, more than Sunday School, more than Kid’s Worship and more than Nursery which are all ongoing ministries? In fact to a degree some of those ministries suffer because of VBS. We have some really old microphones in Kid Kove that need to be replaced and if we did not have VBS we would have new microphones in Kid Kove.
I also see how VBS can develop a one-time mentality. It is so obvious that you can not effectively reach kids with a one week strategy but so many churches and so many church people think that VBS is what children’s ministry is all about. The truth is most of the positives I listed about VBS happen in an ongoing way in kid’s ministry all the time! Also I wonder is VBS just another time for kids and their parents to be at church separated again.
So what do we do? A big part of my job is to do the best with what I’m given to develop a comprehensive strategy to reach kids and their families for Christ. That means to continually evaluate and re-evaluate what we are doing, what we are spending money and who we can do all this better! So I need to ask some tough questions in the middle of an incredible VBS. Questions like can we do something wonderful like a three day kid’s crusade with a first class speaker for a third of the budget and still have a great event for kids and their parents? Is their a way to do this and help whole families enjoy this together? Could we join together as a bunch of different ministries and work together to do a great carnival that lots of budgets shoulder and create an event bigger event for the community? Do we have the courage and desire for a year to try something new and different?So what’s in store for next year? I don’t know yet, but I would invite your constructive dialogue and prayer. Will we have VBS or something different? Stay tuned!

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