NASHVILLE, Tenn —Vacation Bible School (VBS) has been a evangelistic staple for the past 60 years. Churches mobilize their Sunday school workers and other volunteers to bring neighborhood children to local churches for food, fun and an exploration of Bible themes. Many parents are happy when their children are involved in these activities each afternoon for a week or two. For churches, VBS is an opportunity for child evangelism and is an avenue to reach entire families.
There has been a drop-off in VBS interests in recent years, but in a recent poll of Southern Baptist pastors, LifeWay Research has discovered that 85% of their churches have conducted a VBS program within the past 12 months. The next most common evangelistic activity was prayer for the lost, and 58% of the pastors indicated they were involved in that activity. Servant projects such as providing food to needy families was an evangelistic priority with 46% of the respondents, revival meetings for 45%, and 44% relied on door-to-door canvassing to aid church growth.
Curriculum publishing used to be a mainstay of many Christian publishing companies. Reflecting on VBS this past year, Tony Kummer of Ministry-to-Children.com said, “I was not surprised to see LifeWay and Group at the head of the pack. They keep improving their product and marketing. As denominational identity breaks down, more churches will simply choose which product seems to best fit their needs. That means harder times for smaller publishers that still depend on loyalty to sell their curriculum.”
Kummer sees changing trends away from the traditional curriculum. He said, “Increasingly, churches have tired new ways to do VBS. Some are doing sports camp, art programs, and anything else they can dream up. This is a good development because it generates fresh ideas for everyone. But I am concerned that we might let ‘enrichmen’ replace ‘discipleship & evangelism.’”
Writing VBS curriculum is a viable options for those who have the background and experience to meet the changing needs of VBS ministry.