The final day of VBS had come too soon, even though earlier in the week I had wondered if it would come soon enough. (Be honest, you felt that way too!) The week I spent with pre-kindergartners was rewarding, fun, and exhausting. But, it was Friday and soon I’d be saying goodbye to my young friends. Then, while the kids were in one of their rotations, I was made aware of a work crisis that diverted my attention. I was able to finish the morning strong, but I found focusing 100% on the children difficult.
We said our goodbyes, gobbled some pizza, and began tearing down and resetting our rooms for Sunday. My wife and I were in more of a rush than usual because we were scheduled to fly to Texas in a few hours for a family reunion that my brothers and I were hosting.
On the way to the airport I continued to deal with the work situation, while my daughter-in-law drove. In that moment I could have very easily questioned if VBS is worth it. Was it worth getting up early every morning to make sure I was ready to teach and then rushing to the office in the afternoon, while swallowing my sack lunch whole, and staying up late preparing for the next day at VBS?
You may have a similar story and possibly have asked yourself if VBS is worth it. To help answer that question objectively, let’s reframe the six myths about VBS identified in the book, It’s Worth It, and use them as an evaluation tool:
Did families use us primarily for free child care? If they did, probably only few did. Name the children who came to VBS for that express purpose. Did they hear the gospel? Then, it was worth it.
Did you have enough volunteers? Probably not, but name a few of the volunteers you did have and visualize the relationships they developed with children or the gospel conversations they had. Perhaps you observed a volunteer grasp the importance of kids ministry.
Did no one come to your VBS because every church in town promoted the same VBS theme you used? I’m going to guess children did come. If LifeWay’s research is accurate you heard few complaints from parents and kids about the theme, Bible content, and music being repeated from another church’s VBS. And, your VBS was unique to your context.
Was VBS too expensive and you had to buy too much stuff? Evaluate how much money you did spend and divide it by the number of children who attended. How much did you spend per child? Was it worth the gospel impact your church had on each child?
Were the only kids who came your church’s kids? If so, are they regular attenders or do they only come a few times a year? Among my group of preschoolers was a child who doesn’t attend any church, but his mother was very positive about his and his brother’s experiences at VBS. That one connection made VBS worth it for me.
Were all the kids who attended already Christians? Probably not, but even if they were all Christ followers, was the gospel reinforced? Did kids have opportunities to bring their unchurched friends to VBS? Were children discipled as they studied God’s Word and interacted with other believers?
I cannot answer for you but as I worked through the six questions above, God reminded me that VBS is definitely worth it. And, by the time next summer arrives I will have forgotten about the lost sleep and stressful situations. Just remember, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to LifeWay. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the grandparents of three adorable grandbabies.