Is VBS Dead?

“Is VBS Dead? Or just not worth the bother?” writes Keith Tusing over at

He continues:

VBS – The origins of Vacation Bible School can be traced back to Hopedale, Illinois in 1894.  Hey, that means VBS has actually been around longer than me! Many churches have long been committed to an annual VBS as a part of their summer programming for kids.  Now, a large percentage of churches have discontinued or they are considering discontinuing this summer tradition.  One of the questions that is being tossed around: Is VBS still an effective tool for Children’s Ministry?  Let’s take a look at a couple of facts:

A shift in children’s ministry since 1997 has been the 12% decline in the percentage of churches offering Vacation Bible School (or VBS) – from 81% to 69%. The number one reason given for not offering VBS was a lack of available volunteers. – The Barna Group, Ltd, 2009

By contrast V.B.S. continues to have the greatest evangelistic impact in the Southern Baptist Convention with 26% of 2006 baptisms in convention churches coming as a direct result of V.B.S.

Today over three million children attend Vacation Bible School annually.

So what is all the debate about?  It seems that many churches believe the expense both financially and in man-power does not yield the desired results.  I believe the lack of measurable success may be more a result of the way VBS is presented than anything else. Also, a lack of planned follow up after VBS by the church leads to limited long term benefit.

So what are the some of the benefits to a church that provides a VBS program?

(READ HIS REASONS ON HIS SITE) – they’re good! I didn’t want to repurpose his entire post!!

Then come back and post your thoughts here!

Here is what I posted on his site:

I think it is important for leaders to clearly and accurately define the purpose of VBS before they undertake it. I think the reason many churches cancel it is they start to think it is child care for Christian kids from other churches doing the VBS circuit – which it can be, though there are ways to avoid that (I won’t get into that here.) Many people claim VBS is evangelistic, I actually don’t think that is the purpose of VBS (!) As shocking as that sounds, I think decisions for Christ are a benefit, but not the purpose of VBS – there are far more staff and cost effective ways to reach the lost, and we canceled VBS for two summers to pursue that with success – but then I brought BACK VBS for a more refined purpose: to create significant spiritual memories for children within the church, anchors that would bring them back to the church years later, when 53% of them leave the church, according to research. Yes, some get saved, but 100% of them have a GREAT time, learn and have a positive experience at church. AND, if you do a family VBS, have a family experience at church. So, I think VBS is a great thing to do – if defined well. If you have realistic and clear goals, you are sure to hit them!

What do YOU think?

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