by Ken Braddy
Did you know that VBS grew out of Sunday School? A Sunday School teacher in Illinois became frustrated about the lack of time she had to teach the Bible on Sunday mornings and started a four-week summer Bible study program that later became what we know as Vacation Bible School.
Over a hundred years later, VBS is still one of the primary ways children are introduced to Jesus. 10% of all VBS participants in a single year are identified as “unchurched.”
Here are three ways that Bible study groups can help make their church’s VBS a success. Groups can work together to move kids—and their parents—from the VBS events into ongoing Bible study groups.
- Invest time in following up with families. — One of the differences between churches that have successful VBS weeks and those that don’t relates to the follow-up efforts. Churches that are intentional about assigning VBS guests to Bible study groups have a greater return in and influence among people than those that don’t. If you’re going to go to the expense, time, and trouble of providing an annual VBS event, don’t stop short and forget to follow up on every prospect—that includes the parents of VBS kids!
- Involve group members in the VBS family night. — A family night during VBS is an important part of your overall strategy of reaching new people for Christ and church membership. Many churches give parents a reason to come back to the church campus, meet teachers, and see their child’s classroom and VBS projects by scheduling a Family Night (usually the Wednesday night during VBS week). A fellowship time with drinks and snacks can also create a “linger” factor and give staff, VBS teachers, Bible study group leaders, and members of adult groups the opportunity to float through the room and interact with guests. If you lead an adult Bible study group, invite your members to have conversations with parents who would naturally fit into your group.
- Invite group members to serve in VBS. — Members of your adult group can serve as teachers, greeters, and helpers during VBS. Others may be more limited in the time they can serve, but can help during registration and dismissal times. Adults who are time-crunched might even find serving during set-up or tear-down something they can fit into their schedule.
Ken Braddy manages LifeWay’s Ongoing Bible studies, leads his church’s groups ministry, and blogs daily on Sunday School and small groups at kenbraddy.com.