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Random VBS thoughts

I know many of my readers use this program and I'm not trying to knock you... so don't take it personally. I've just never been a fan of VBS.

Today I was driving around town setting up events for our missions team who arrives in a few weeks when I noticed the bazillion "VBS" signs at nearly every church. I noticed also the way that the signs highlighted "Vacation Bible School" and minimized the title of the event. Doesn't that branding automatically attract those who are cool with the bible?

Okay... another thing that bugs me is the wording. Vacation Bible School. Let's play a word game. What do you think of when I say "Vacation"

Now... what do you think of when I say "School"

And finally with those two contrasting pictures in mind... think of what Bible must feel like in the middle.

So there you have it. Vacation, Bible, School. As if Vacation and School EVER go together.

Moving on...
The other thing that gets me is how VBS is typically babysitting for Christians. I have an uncle... let's call him Mark. Uncle Mark has some little kids. I remember last summer Uncle Mark telling me that they were taking their kids to 4 (FOUR) consecutive VBS's. The kids loved them and the parents enjoyed the time alone. Granted, I'm certain that kids do come from the community but in all reality how successful is this?

And another concern...
Have you seen your church people rally around VBS? I have. I've been in churches where VBS and AWANA were the Sacred Cows of kids ministry. You mess with one of those programs only when "God has called" you to another ministry. Otherwise you get a 1 way ticket to the unemployment line.

I'm sure I'm not alone in my open thoughts about VBS... These aren't the most hidden of all conerns. I know that big-bad-churches have used VBS for centuries and it's a program that works for some. I know, I know. My thing is... how about stop calling it VBS. Start calling it solely by the program name. Highlight the fact that kids will have fun and that there are messy games and great prizes. Highlight the fact that you'll teach the kids about loving and serving others... just like Jesus. But I, one small voice, will pray for the day when I don't see so many banners dominated by the phrase... Vacation Bible SCHOOL in the middle of the summer.

"And all God's people said..."

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, July 12, 2006


At 5:34 PM, Blogger Tony Myles said...


At 5:52 PM, Blogger Bob Franquiz said...

We've never done VBS. Then again, I don't know if anyone in our church knows what that is.

Vacation & school in the same sentence, that was great! So true.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Russ said...


At 2:59 AM, Blogger Blake said...

Hmmmm...what would you call it?

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Tally said...

As I said in the post, I'd call it whatever I was calling the week. It may seem like semantics but to people who drive by it's not. The signs I'm talking about are for passers by. You can get friends of the kids to come by invite but road signage has to appeal to basic strangers. If you're going to put up huge signs that say something about a kids week, it makes more sense to advertise the week itself. For instance, Fellowship Church in Dallas calls their week "Adventure Week". Do they have bible stories/study? Yes! Do kids accept Jesus? Yes! Is it a program that works? Yes. My post is mainly about how Christians will often times ignore the public when coming up with advertising. Instead they end up marketing to other church people who feel comfortable with a weird phrase such as Vacation-Bible-School. Call it what you want... just ask if it would make sense to someone who has never been to church...

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Blake said...

Makes sense, Tally. I guess growing up here in the South (I'm in Mississippi), even the unchurched know what a VBS is. But I see your points quite clearly.

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Ben said...

We called ours Summer Breakout (Taking VBS to the next level). Seems to work really well. It's really one of our largest outreach opportunities in our community.


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