VBS continues to effectively win souls
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—It’s a fact: Vacation Bible School (VBS) is the most effective evangelism strategy in the Southern Baptist Convention.
And that holds true for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) as well.
“It mobilizes more laity probably than most any strategy we use,” said Michael Cooper, who directs Sunday School / Discipleship for the MBC. “It is a concentrated time. In a week, they get a face-to-face opportunity with children to share the Gospel, and not just verbally but to flesh it out.”
In 2006, more than 110,000 people were enrolled in VBS in Missouri, yielding more than 13,000 Sunday School prospects for local churches, with more than 1,000 of those subsequently being enrolled as a result of VBS.
That compares nationally to nearly 3 million people enrolled in VBS, yielding 212,000 Sunday School prospects for local churches, with nearly 40,000 of those subsequently being enrolled as a result of VBS in 2006.
“The whole point of Vacation Bible School is to lead the children, youth and adults who attend to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Bottom line, that’s it,” said Jerry Wooley, VBS specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
“It is startling to realize that in Vacation Bible School in 2006, we documented 94,980 decisions to accept Christ,” he said. “That is 1.1 decisions for every one person trained as a VBS worker by our state conventions. That is phenomenal when you consider that statistically SBC-wide it takes 44 people to win one person to Christ.”
And 26 percent of the 364,826 baptisms in SBC churches in 2006 were a direct result of VBS, Wooley said of Vacation Bible School’s effectiveness as an evangelism strategy among Southern Baptists.
“These numbers are just the ones we know about, that we have documentation about,” he said. “I can only imagine how many more people are reached when you think about the parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends of these children.”
Preliminary MBC numbers for 2007 VBS are more than 67,500 enrolled with 2,110 decisions to accept Christ. There were more than 8,500 Sunday School prospects for local churches with 844 of those subsequently being enrolled as a result of VBS. The final report for 2007 will be available in April.
During VBS, Wooley noted, “The fun, the games and the music are the means to getting the opportunity to talk with the children and their families and share the Gospel with them.”
At VBS Preview events at LifeWay’s conference centers in Ridgecrest, N.C., and Glorieta, N.M., and LifeWay offices in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this year, the 2,500 men and women from local churches across the country heard a renewed emphasis on the importance of their VBS outreach extending beyond the week of fun.
“Last year 90 percent of the people who turned in evaluation forms from the VBS Preview events indicated they needed help with follow-up,” Wooley said. “We honestly had no idea the need was that great.”
Wooley said that he found it heartbreaking that some churches finish their week of VBS, take their enrollment cards, bundle them in a rubber band and stick them on a shelf to gather dust.
“I actually have had churches that proudly showed me stacks of bundled VBS cards from several years,” he said. “They don’t even seem to realize they are just bundles of missed opportunities.”
In addition to several breakout sessions specifically addressing ideas for following up with the children after VBS, the VBS Preview for this year’s “Outrigger Island” and “Cactus Canyon” themes also included a range of sessions, from crafts/snacks and family night ideas to volunteer appreciation.
Attendees were treated to a presentation of the Outrigger Island VBS musical written by Jeff Slaughter and performed by the children’s choir of The People’s Church in Franklin, Tenn.