by Andrea Gentry
A few years ago I found myself sitting once again in LifeWay’s main sanctuary in downtown Nashville. I was there for the VBS preview events. As I sat there all I could think of was how to make an awesome stage set for our church’s upcoming VBS in June. Enter Dr. Shane Garrison. He took the stage and began to redefine two words for me.
Dr. Garrison was there to speak about the spiritual orphans in the neighborhoods and communities that have no access to the Gospel in their homes. Stage props left my brain and two words flooded in with the overwhelming need to look at VBS as more than a week you work hours on end in the hope the end of the week was near – “Spiritual Orphans”. Those two words continue to be the reason why I put my heart into VBS. Think about the “go to” scripture for VBS, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. Now think about the word Orphan just for a minute. Each one of us at one time after our first breath of life was a spiritual orphan. And at one time in our life something or someone helped us to be adopted into God’s family and come to understand the gift God gave us through His son Jesus Christ.
As he began to speak about being that Spiritual Orphan so many years before and how this event called Vacation Bible School changed his life, I couldn’t help but wonder could God use our small church to make a kingdom impact in the life of a child the way it had with Dr. Garrison? God used VBS to lead him to salvation, but it didn’t stop there. God laid it on the hearts of the VBS volunteers to make a commitment to invest in a child. The church invested by picking him up each week for church and feeding him with physical and spiritual nutrition, praying with him and for him, seeing him through Elementary, Middle and High School and on to college where they financially supported him. Dr. Garrison’s academic education is as follows: B.S. Religious Education & Sports Medicine – Campbellsville University; M.Div.Bl. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; M.A.C.E. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ed.D. Leadership – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
I believe the answer to the question is YES God could use Revive to make a kingdom impact. But it will take some “Prep Work”.
Here are a few of Dr. Garrison’s reason to say “Yes to VBS”
- VBS is highly inter-generational. Meaning all age groups, both young and old, and everything in the middle, interact and spend time together for one week. They worship together, study together, fellowship together, and serve together. What other ministry effort joins hundreds of volunteers from all ages for one week and structures an experience where they get to know one another and serve as one big, happy family?
- VBS is very collaborative. When kids’ ministry leaders attempt to pull off a VBS week, it requires significant time planning, collaborating and communicating together. There are various teams, such as preschool, crafts, music, food, administration, follow-up, etc, all working together to make sure all the details are managed. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds talk and share ideas together about what they should do and what they should avoid. I would have to believe this week is the most collaborative ministry event on the church calendar.
- VBS is intentionally evangelistic. It goes without saying that VBS far outpaces most other ministry efforts when it comes to intentional evangelism. I have heard a leading VBS expert (from my SBC tribe) say that for the past 30 years there has not been any other ministry effort even come close to the number of salvations that VBS has seen. Revival meetings, disaster relief, food and clothing ministries don’t come close.
- VBS is one of the remaining creative outlets in the church. With the ending of the Easter pageants and Christmas plays, there are not many outlets left in church life where Christian people are encouraged to use their artistic gifts. There are not times when sets are built, rooms are elaborately decorated, costumes are pulled out and put to use, paint brushes and construction paper fly wildly. The Creator God has created us to be mini-creators, but there are not many ways to utilize those gifts any more, particularly in the visual arts. VBS provides this creative outlet each and every year.
- Lastly, VBS has service opportunities for every believer in Christ, no matter their spiritual maturity level. Everyone can serve somewhere. Whether you have been a Christian for less than a year or you are nearing the time when you will see Jesus face to face, VBS has a place for you to serve.
When you put these 5 things up against almost every other ministry venue in the local church, VBS stands above. While the music ministry is inter-generational, it is not intentionally evangelistic. While Sunday school and small groups are very collaborative, those ministry venues are not overtly creative. VBS stands above. It has benefits that other ministries do not have.
Prep Work to do list:
* Is your heart and mind ready to invest in God’s Kingdom? The Bible is God’s greatest investment manual. Are you reading it?
* Are you making time to hear what God has to say? “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
* Are you ready to invest in God’s kingdom more than one week out of the year? “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders making the best use of the time.” Colossians 4:5
* Are you ready to share the burden of spending time out of your day, week, month, or years to make sure a child gets what he or she needs to grow spiritually? “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
* Have you started to pray for the VBS families church and un-churched that God will bring? “Brother, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them are that they may be saved.” Romans 10:1
* Are you ready to say YES to VBS?