Did you know that VBS grew out of Sunday School? A Sunday School teacher in Illinois became frustrated about the lack of time she had to teach the Bible on Sunday mornings and started a four-week summer Bible study program that later became what we know as Vacation Bible School.
Now, over a hundred years later, VBS is still one of the primary ways children are introduced to Jesus, the Bible, and the church. 10% of all VBS participants in a single year are identified as “unchurched” (How To Sunday School Manual, p.59).
Here are four ways that Sunday School today can “shake hands” with VBS and work together to grow the Kingdom by moving kids (and their parents) from the VBS event into an ongoing Bible study ministry like Sunday School. Each of these ideas begins with the letter “I”:
- Invest time in follow up – One of the differences between churches that have successful VBS weeks and those that don’t relates to the follow-up efforts. Churches that are intentional about assigning VBS guests to Sunday School groups have a greater return and involve more people in Sunday School than those that do not. If you’re going to go to the expense, time, and trouble of providing an annual VBS event, don’t stop short and forget to follow up on every prospect.
- Involve your Sunday School teachers – Related to #1 above, prospects should be assigned to the groups that are designed for people like them. Assign a 4th grade visitor to the 4th grade Sunday School class. Assign the 4th grader’s parents to an adult class that has people their age in it.
- Include a family night – A family night during VBS is an important part of your overall strategy of reaching new people for Christ and church membership. Give parents a reason to come back to your church campus, meet teachers, and see their child’s classroom and VBS projects. A fellowship time with drinks and snacks can also create a “linger” factor and give staff, VBS teachers, and Sunday School teachers time to float through the room and interact with guests.
- Invite Sunday School teachers to serve as greeters each day of VBS, and to help during registration and dismissal times. Find ways to create opportunities for conversation between VBS guests and your ongoing leadership team of Sunday School teachers.
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