For many churches in the south, summer marks the time for vacation Bible school (VBS). Since we are such a large church, people often ask why we choose to pass on this. For some folks, VBS seems to be a great time to reach out to the community and get people to come to one of our campuses; in this viewpoint, VBS can serve as an evangelistic tool. For others, VBS is a way to bring members and children together during the busy summer schedules; therefore, it can serve as a means to fellowship. While these are good motivations, I believe that there are several reasons for Grace Church to not have VBS during the summer.
To host a week-long VBS would require a lot of resources (time, money, energy, etc). Instead of using these resources for a single week, we would rather pour our efforts into an entire year. Our model of discipleship is more based on having long-term relationships, not one-time events. Furthermore, we are already preparing for Promotion Weekend (where all children and students are promoted to their next grade level in our weekend programming), that will occur on Aug 14-15. We try to minimize the number of events we do in June, and by July we are completely focused on getting ready for the fall, with recruiting, training, and planning.
Despite the resources that are required, we would be more likely to host VBS if there were a big need in the
area. But it is obvious that there are no shortage of churches that have VBS. Over the past 6 years, my own children have participated in VBS events at four different churches, and we have never been turned away for a lack of space. Additionally, we have seen that the VBS programs that most churches do are very similar to each other, and well-executed. From our experience, I honestly do not think that we could do significantly better than what other churches are doing. Greenville
Probably the biggest reason that we do not do VBS on our campuses has to do with our value of being culturally-engaged. I love that my children get to be a part of other churches’ VBS events. I want them to learn that it is normal to fellowship and worship with other local churches. Furthermore, I think that this is a great opportunity to go be in our own community. Instead of focusing on getting people to come to our campus, we need to go where others are. For example, one summer my wife had the idea for our children to go to VBS with a neighbor’s kids, at their church. I drove all the kids to the church, Joanna picked them up afterward, and she kept them until the other mom came home from work. It was a great way to connect with, support, and love our neighbor.