The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
I saw a post on a FaceBook page for pastors where it was discussed as to whether or not Vacation Bible School is still a valid outreach tool for the local church. Feeding the frenzy was the fact that hardly any children who visit from the community ever come back for the children’s programs or the services of the church and neither do their families. Another complaint was nothing new. It was a complaint that parents just “use the church’s VBS for a free babysitting service.”
Some pastors declared that their churches had quit having VBS a long time ago and some were just now dropping it from their program. Other churches had replaced VBS with one day a week day camps and some had begun to charge money for their VBS programs to weed out the people who were “just looking for free babysitting.”
As I read their comments, I felt some sympathy because I know how hard it is to put on a good VBS program. I have also seen years that the attendance was down. I’ve been a van driver picking up and dropping of children to homes where as many as 3 or 4 nice, late model, vehicles were parked that could easily have transported those youngsters to the church instead of the church spending gas money and volunteer time picking them up. I know how exhausted worker are after VBS. I’ve often seen the Sunday following VBS have huge drops in attendance because workers were so worn out and then, if we were fortunate, only one guest family show up for service.
My reply to these concerns is this:
If VBS is truly an “OUTREACH” of the church, why should we discontinue it simply because it does not put posteriors in the pews? Paul’s idea of “OUTREACH” was found in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7: What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
“OUTREACH” isn’t for the building of our numbers, or growing our offerings, or making our church name popular. It is for reaching out to others for the purpose of planting seed and/or watering that seed in the lives of people who need Jesus.” The growth or increase is up to God. Sometimes he lets us harvest, and we should be looking for those opportunities, but sometimes the crop we planted or watered will be harvested by another believer. We need to be concerned about our part of laboring in the Lord’s fields.
I believe that a church devoted to reaching out to the community will grow. However, our growth may not even come from the field we worked. But outreach is what makes us dynamic and influential in the community. It gives us life and a church family full of life is a magnet to people seeking life. My view of VBS is simple: As long as kids keep coming VBS is valuable and should be held. I don’t care if we are a free babysitting service. I can’t think of a better way for parents to protect, bless and care for their kiddo’s than to give them a week of Jesus.
They can take advantage of us all they want so we can take advantage of their plan by planting and watering seeds of faith in their children. I think that is a GRRRRRREAT trade.
Josh and our volunteers have done a great job this week inspiring 45 to 50 youngsters to look to Jesus to Rescue them whenever their lives get SHIPWRECKED!
Friday night is very important. Parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives of these children who have been in our VBS will come to a closing program to see what has been happening. Another thing they will be looking for is to see how much our FCC family cares about them and their kids. Josh and I are COUNTING ON YOU to come at 6:00 and welcome those families and their kids. The VBS volunteers will appreciate your support too.
Thanking God for VBS and OUTREACH,