Some call it the main event of the summer, the Super Bowl of their ministry, it can be considered the turning point of a Children’s Ministry; for me, I think of it as my World Series. I’m talking about Vacation Bible School or VBS, and it’s a BIG deal! It’s that time of year where your Children’s Pastor is functioning solely on the will of God, copious amounts of caffeine, little sleep, and under a slightly higher level of anxiety. You see us turning toilet paper rolls into great works of art, building props out of moving boxes, begging people for more of their recyclables, and randomly standing in the middle of rooms mumbling to ourselves about how this really can look like we’re in outer space. We do all this with coffee in hand, a slightly crazed look in our eyes, and the love of Jesus and kids overflowing our hearts.
Why? Why do we put ourselves through this crazy process? Why does the church turn upside down to make this event happen? Why does this event need to be an “all hands on deck” affair? Let me give you four of the best reasons on why we do VBS.
1. Children NEED Jesus.
In a society where our kids are surrounded by constant negativity, have secular material at the click of a button, and they mature seemingly overnight; they need Jesus. VBS is important for kids whether the church is located in a cozy suburb or a drug ridden inner city. Kids need that sense of love and belonging. For some that walk through our doors on the first night of VBS, this will be the only week of the year where they are told they matter. This may be the only time of the day that they aren’t responsible for the three siblings that trek in behind them. This may be the only time of the year they hear about Jesus.
We do VBS because it is important that these kids know that they are seen. They are not forgotten. Jesus said “But let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these!” Matthew 19:14. The future of our church and communities is in the hands of the children we serve. Often, VBS is the only time some of our children enter a church, but the effects of that VBS program can have a lasting impression on our kids. If done poorly, VBS can spoil the taste of church for kids later in life. If done correctly, it can plant that seed of faith in a child. It may take time for the seed to grow, but only God knows when and how that seed will sprout. It isn’t our job to know the when, but it is our job to make sure the how it is planted is done so to the best of our abilities. This sometimes means that we need to hold off cleaning the carpets for another month, to make sure that a child feels the love of Jesus.
Just like children need Jesus, their parents need Jesus too. I would be lying if I said a large focus of our VBS program isn’t based on people that do not even attend our church. The statement, “why don’t we use our resources for the families in our church only,” is like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. Yes, there is truth in saying “we need to take care of our families,” but our families are here, our families know Jesus. There is a whole community of people that need to know Jesus. A lot can change when the church opens its doors and acts like the church is supposed to act towards the people in the community it serves. When we bring people from the outside into our doors, they can learn about our ministries and programs. They can learn about our values, and above all, they can learn that we care. When they feel that we care, they are more apt to participate in our programs. The chain reaction that can occur when we make a conscious effort to reach into the community and care for unchurched families in a way only VBS can is endless.
3. Find Future Leaders.
VBS is the one church program that consumes the whole church. There are so many working parts that make VBS happen, that even if “kids aren’t your thing,” there is still a job for you. As a Children’s Pastor, VBS isn’t just a time for me to let my crazy show. It is also an opportunity to access the leadership skills of others. The church is a living organism; it is constantly growing and evolving; just like the leaders inside the church. If you think that you can’t lead or serve, talk to me, I can guide you to a spot where your gifts can shine. Last year at VBS time, if you would have told me that I would have been leading Children’s Ministry, I would have laughed at you. But I came, I talked, I took a chance, and above all I trusted God. There is so much leadership and servant potential inside each of us; it just takes faith, trust, and a conversation.
Above all other reasons, we do VBS because it’s fun! There is nothing more enjoyable (to me at least) than hearing kids laugh! It’s a week of games, far off lands, interactive Bible stories, sticky snacks and crafts, goofy kids, and catchy songs. Just because you are an adult, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh right alongside the kids!
So how can you help?
First and foremost, volunteer! There are never too many volunteers for VBS; there is a job for everyone! Enjoy seeing God’s glory unfold in this event. Have FUN!
I have been blessed with tremendous pastoral and staff support, but support from the church is just as important. Take a moment and show your support, whether it be for my leadership team, me, or your own church’s children’s leader. Buy them a coffee, give them a hug, whatever works for you. This event isn’t about me any more than it is about the church. This event is about God and showing His love and proclaiming His glory to these families.
– Cindy Cultice