Is It Time To Cancel VBS?
I had an interesting conversation with a KidMin leader at the KidzMatter Conference a couple weeks ago. She approached me at the GO! booth and said, "It's because of you that I cancelled my summer kids camp." Uh oh. I didn't know what she was talking about, but it didn't sound good. And for a split second, I thought about running. I'm quick and nimble, and I could have easily lost her in the crowd! "Don't worry," she said, "it's a good thing!" "Oh good," I thought. Because I'm also tall and she would have eventually spotted me again. She went on to explain how she heard me on the "Kids Ministry Circle" podcast with Lauren Jackson over a year ago. When we recorded, I had just decided that GO! would not be creating a new VBS for that year, so I talked about why. More than that, I talked about when it's time for children's ministry leaders to say "no" to VBS too. (Click the button below to listen.)
By the end of the podcast, she felt like she had been given permission to kill the sacred cow that was no longer producing any milk.
Here's what I love, though!
By saying "no" to VBS, it allowed her to think creatively about what she would do instead. And what she and her team came up with was awesome! In short, they held a Lego hunting and building event at a local shopping mall. To the kids and their families, it was new and exciting, and they came out in droves. In fact, more than a thousand people attended! WAY more than they had ever reached with a VBS.
And she's not the only one rethinking VBS.
My friend, Dwayne Riner, told me at the conference how they stopped doing a single week of VBS and are now doing what they call "Summer to the Max." For 8 consecutive Sundays in the summer, they have big VBS-sized services for kids. Along with the message, each week features games, music, and something fun like a snow cone machine, petting zoo, or a ninja warrior course.
Whereas most churches see a drop in attendance during the summer, they see a rise. The first year, they had 444 first time kid visitors. This past summer, they had far more than that!
And here's the best part...
A lot of the kids who had been coming to their VBS in the past were from other churches. It was cheap day care for the parents and they never saw those kids again until VBS the next year. (Sound familiar?) But now, unchurched and under-churched kids were coming with their parents and the parents were being folded into the church body through the adult services.
Dwayne says his head pastor happily approves his "Summer to the Max" budget every year. You can understand why!
So, should you cancel your VBS?
Or maybe not.
I don't hold a grudge against VBS! In fact, it's not impossible that we might make another one some year in the future. But...
You have to ask yourself, why are you doing it? In other words, what's your goal with VBS? Make a list of measurable goals, then afterwards, measure to see if you were successful. But there's one more question you have to ask: How much time and money did it cost you? Was the level of success you experienced worth the price you paid for it, or is there a better way you could have invested that time and money?
If you run the calculations, and VBS is working for you, then keep doing it!
If not, don't be afraid to try something different.
When you say "no" to VBS, you're saying "yes" to something else. Maybe it's a different, more effective event. Maybe it's a renewed focus on reaching families. Maybe it's the sanity of you and your team. Or maybe it's all of those things.
Just for the fun of it, here's an exercise for you and your team. Ask yourself, if you didn't do VBS this coming summer, what would you do instead? How might you use that time and those resources differently?
You might be surprised how awesome your ideas are!
Let me be clear, though...
I'm not telling you to cancel your VBS, that's for you and your team to decide. But if you need to hear it from someone, I am giving you permission!
Proud to partner with you in reaching kids for Jesus!
A fun new way to celebrate Christmas!
The "Bash" is back and better than ever! During Gingerbread Bash, families build gingerbread nativities, hear the Christmas story from the Bible, play games, sing songs, and discover the life changing gift of God’s Son, Jesus. Best of all, it's got a clear gospel presentation that makes it perfect for a community outreach event.