I have an idea! Let’s try an Afternoon VBS!
VBS is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It is right at the top of the list with FROG camp and pre-teen camp! These events are my favorite because they are FUN and full of discipleship and evangelism!
VBS, however, is unique in its own way. It is a unique time to disciple kids who have already heard the gospel, and it is an incredible tool to share the gospel with new kids. VBS was started by Virginia Hawes in 1898 in a beer parlor in New York’s East Side. VBS began in a moment of crisis not so different from the one we face today. “We felt that the Bible is not taught in homes as used to be, nor as it should be, and it is not taught in the public schools. So we opened… a school in which we made the Bible our only textbook,” Hawes said.
As I was reading this quote in the new book, It’s Worth It by Landry Holmes, I could not help but agree with Hawes’ comment. I was also convicted that although the VBS we do today still teaches biblical truths and is filled with the gospel message in every activity and rotation, we have stepped away from teaching Bible Literacy and Bible Skills in VBS.
I started praying and challenging our dream team to think about ways that we could incorporate Bible Literacy into VBS! It is one thing to share the gospel with others, it is another to disciple them to learn for themselves. EVERYTHING we do as a church and as a kids ministry should center around that. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus didn’t just say, tell them about me, but He said, teach them everything about me. It’s not a one-time event; rather, it’s a process.
With that said, sometimes we only see a child one time at VBS, and then we may never see them again. The least we can do is teach them how to use a Bible and then make sure they have one. We are setting a goal this year to make sure EVERY kid who attends VBS owns a Bible. If they do not own a Bible, we will get them one. This year, we are going to encourage and reward bringing their Bible to VBS in the same way we encourage and reward raising money for missions. We decided the most effective way to teach Bible Literacy and Bible Skills in VBS is to add a Bible Skills rotation that is the same length as the Bible Storytime.
Here is the exciting news: needing an extra hour to work in the Bible Skills rotation. It just did not work well to do VBS in the morning. The times were no longer practical or reasonable. This year, we have moved VBS to the AFTERNOON from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm! This will give us the extra hour needed to work in Bible skills and not rush the other rotations. This also allows for kids to go to various sports camps, or swimming lessons in the morning and not have to miss VBS. And for some parents this helps with free childcare for the long part of the day, while giving us the opportunity to evangelize and disciple those kids (I call that a win-win!). It also allows our teenagers to sleep later and be well rested to serve in the afternoon!
I am so excited to try VBS in the afternoon this year! Would you join me in praying for VBS, that we will not only plant seeds of gospel truth but effectively teach Bible skills laying a foundation of discipleship in kids’ lives?
Serving Him Together,
Ashley Weir Children’s Minister