LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Vacation Bible School may enjoy a resurgence – if not an outright revival – this summer in Kentucky Baptist churches if last week’s unofficial start is any indicator.
Matt Flanagan, the Kentucky Baptist Convention children and student ministry consultant, said early reports from churches have been encouraging. “This week we’ve seen a great start for churches across our state beginning a summer launch through VBS. I’ve heard some good reports.”
After last summer’s mostly online-only VBS, churches are finding volunteers and parents ready for the kids. Despite doing the best they could with virtual VBS, there were fewer gospel conversations and less salvations, Flanagan said.
“I think it makes this year even more crucial,” he said. “The reality is, there are many, many adult believers who came to know the Lord during VBS as a child. I applaud our church leaders for what they did, but they were not able to reach as many through virtual means as traditional. That makes this year more essential.”
The pandemic was a reminder of the importance of togetherness, Flanagan said.
“The eternal gain through the work is difficult to measure,” he said. “Besides the measure of salvation, attendance and missions giving are the eternal work of planting seeds and watering those seeds. God brings the growth and we trust in that.”
Rachel Cobb, the children’s ministry and VBS leader at First Baptist Richmond, is coming off a highly successful VBS where they had more than 300 children each night. But no matter the numbers of those attending or those who will volunteer, she advises churches to keep moving.
“What I’ve found is if they’re back in the swing at church enough, then they’re ready to go,” she said. “A lot of churches are still concerned about getting volunteers. My advice is to press on. We have to pick up where we are right now and build back up.”
Cobb led VBS training for the KBC and she told the directors not to be discouraged.
“God knows what kids He’s going to bring,” she said. “He knows what they need, and He will provide those things. That’s what we have to be focused on. VBS is fun but if the fun is the focus, then we’re missing the boat.”
She said keeping the focus on Christ is of paramount importance for any VBS.
“COVID has been so bad, but I also think COVID has allowed us to prune a little bit and see what is important,” Cobb said. “We need to focus on the relationships and not be so caught up. Focus on what the need is and the need, we know, is Christ. If we put all of our stake in that, I believe there will be revival.”
Families are looking for something special for the children who have been stuck at home for more than a year, Flanagan said. VBS could be just the ticket for them.
“It’s more crucial than ever that churches focus on evangelism,” he said. “There’s no ministry of the church that has a greater reputation to a lost world than VBS. Lifeway statistics say most adults said they would allow their child to attend a VBS where they don’t attend church if a trusted friend invites them. It’s a trusted program and one that many families, after 15 months of being isolated, will welcome in many ways.”