Should We Stop Doing VBS?


If you could push a button and wipe away VBS forever would you do it?

I never really understood the name “Vacation Bible School.”

The words “school” and “vacation” should NEVER be in the same sentence.

When I hear someone say Vacation Bible School, it reminds me of summer school.

Admittedly I have never been to summer school, but I think it is kind of like prison for kids.

Another thing is Vacation Bible School is not really a vacation for me.

I always seem to put in a few extra hours during VBS and my office starts to look like a jungle!

All kidding aside I am a huge fan of VBS.

People have strong feelings about VBS.

Some people get really stressed, while other people love it.

A few days ago I posed this same question on Facebook,

If you could push a button and wipe away VBS forever would you do it?

I was thinking the results of my little poll would be 50/50, but I was off by a long shot.

Results of my poll:

  • 9 said “YES” they would push the button.
  • 37 said “NO.”

Here are some of the poll comments:

  • Absolutely NO!!
  • No. We took VBS to Christiana Jamaica. I don’t know if ever there was a better time.
  • This question makes me sad. NO! Just finished our VBS yesterday and had 88 children accept Christ this week. Do not grow weary!
  • No way. VBS allows us to touch the lives of 200 kids and for many of them it is the only exposure they have to the Good News of Jesus’ love and salvation.
  • Last year we had a HUGE altar call at the end of VBS. We also gave away over 40 Bibles to kids who did not have one. I would call that a success. Do I want more for this year> Of Course.

Just reading these comments stirs my passion.

Some of my favorite memories as a Kid’s Pastor are from VBS.

Monday was the best day, because I knew we had tons of visitors.

During one VBS, I remember a strong presence of the Holy Spirit as 100 plus kids responded to the altar call. (It’s the same feeling I get watching videos of Billy Graham crusades.)

Have you lost your passion for VBS? Ask yourself some questions:

  • Was there ever a time you liked VBS?
  • Why did you like it?
  • Why are you doing VBS?
  • What is your purpose? (For some it is about discipleship. For others it is about evangelism. My passion for VBS is really a passion for seeing people come to Christ.)
  • What is your passion?
  • Is there a way you can incorporate your passion into VBS?

On the other hand, are there things you do at VBS that you hate doing it?

Maybe you should cut them out so you can focus your energy on the things you enjoy doing.

I always had a long “to do list” for VBS. Now, I also write out a “not to do list.”

If you could create your own VBS what would it look like? Close your eyes. What do you see yourself doing?

I am looking forward to hearing about your VBS.

Mark Harper

24 thoughts on “Should We Stop Doing VBS?

  1. Janice says:

    VBS has been our largest evangelistic response every year. The key to repeatedly doing VBS is that our senior pastor is involved big-time. We get a majority of the church helping and each year see children born again. One year a kid from another church was born again. He later became a pastor. Another year a pastor’s son was born again. We were amazed that the salvation altar call hadn’t been given in evangelical churches and though they had heard of Jesus- they needed a time to respond. Then there are more kids today who have never heard about Jesus at all.

  2. Amber Imhoff says:

    I am a VBS junkie if I could do it all year and have the same results I would, but there is this special aww about VBS. We just finished our June one and will have another in August. We don’t do crafts but instead have science. We are a small church and VBS is a time when our adults and teens get to shine at their gifts and be stretched as well.

  3. Trish says:

    I love VBS! For our church- the way it is set up, our flow and volunteers, it not only touches the lives of many children but also provides fellowship and connection for many adults and parents. I stepped out in faith this year and wrote our entire VBS program (minus the music). We are doing it this week at our main campus, and in 2 weeks will do it again at our 2nd Campus. So far it has been an absolute blast!!! Our worship pastor has raised up a youth band to play our worship music live and it has been awesome to see our youth lead the younger generation, as well as our adults, in worship. The entire team of volunteers have taken this years idea/theme/concepts and made it happen.

  4. siemprecreciendo says:

    my church is not offering VBS this year, I was sad. I am a VBS junkie. the past 6 years we VBS hopped and it was great to see kids come to Christ. I pray that they reconsider in integrating VBS.

  5. Steve Lehew says:

    I for one am a firm believer in Vacation Bible School. When I was a young boy, I accepted Jesus at VBS and now that I am a pastor, I have a passion for VBS. Do many kids come back to my church as a result of VBS, maybe 1 or 2 if I am lucky out of 120 guests. one thing that VBS does is gives the kids in our churches opportunities to invite kids. It begins to show them how to be bold in their faith and invite others. VBS also plants seeds. When I think of this, I wonder about a farmer who plants seeds, do they know that every seed they planted produces a wonderful crop? Of course not, but that does not keep them from planting. It is my job to plant seeds. VBS gives our team a chance to build relationships with kids in the community. I am a firm believer in VBS and will continue to be.

  6. Debbie says:

    I have pros and cons about VBS but mostly pros. A week long of evenings can wear on kids and you. I found that by Friday (day 5) everyone was tired and grouchy. So I came up with a weekend bible school camp. This worked really well for us. I found a place we could go for a weekend and we did 4-5 lessons in the weekend with fun activities in between. 1 lesson on Friday night, 2-3 lessons on Saturday and one on Sunday morning. The place we stayed had a zip line, a high swing, trails, and a climbing wall. They had great meals for us and it cost less than $100 per kid. It was a great time to really learn to know the kids. One theme we did was the drop zone with a parachute theme I went sky diving ahead of time and got the pictures and video. Talked about being used by God where he has placed us. You can be creative and have lots of fun!!!! We had kids learn more about God’s word, friends were invited and some made decisions for the Lord!

  7. Charlie Weddle says:

    I have never done VBS, and will continue not to do VBS. However, I have volunteered and been an integral part of a few VBS programs. You may ask as to how I came to that conclusion and wonder as to why I am so emphatic in my stance. For me and the church I serve I had to ask some tough questions.

    1. What am I trying to accomplish? Am I trying to have something for the kids to do this summer, or am I trying to bring families in and keep them? Believe it or not some people still try to use this to grow their summer numbers. My observation, is that a lot of parents look for churches that are doing VBS to drop their kids off for free babysitting for a few hours. Be it wrong or right I have done this myself, fully knowing that my child would never go to church there. Another observation I have, is that I have seen kids accept Christ at a VBS church, then they don’t go to church anymore until next year.

    Just a side thought: Discipleship camp after VBS? A whole week of discipling kids in a VBS format.

    Back to the topic at hand:

    2. Do I have enough volunteers? For the area in which I serve (a lake resort area) volunteers are hard to come by in the summer months.

    3. Is everyone else doing this? In my area, just in a two mile strip, there are five churches that already have a VBS. Trying to compete or find a time that isn’t already booked is next to impossible.

    Of course I will not even touch the money or time factors but they also play a big part in my decision.

    These are just a few of the questions I ask whenever I consider doing any event, as I am sure that most of you do as well.

    However, this doesn’t stop me from hosting one night events or other ministry opportunities during the summer months.

    Just my thoughts on this subject, but to answer the question should we stop doing VBS? I would say it is up to the individual and what God has laid on their heart to do.

  8. Karen Neymeiyer says:

    We don’t do VBS, but we do a summer program called KidsGames (free curriculum at It is similar to a VBS, with a few important distinctions. First, it is held at the public school, so we get kids who would not go to a church program, but will come to the school. Second, the program features what we call “Tracks”, which are activities that the kids can choose from. These might be sports, crafts, service projects, or other activities. Whatever we can find leaders for! Another important distinction is that we do this in cooperation with other community churches, which shows that Christians can work together!
    The first part of the morning is like VBS, with singing, games, a missions lesson and a Bible lesson. Then we have small group time, where the lesson is reviewed and the gospel is presented. But what attracts the kids is the last hour, which is track time. They get to do an activity they have chosen for an hour each day for the week. They can choose something that they already love to do, or they can choose something they have not had the opportunity to do before. It is a great way to explore how God has gifted them. Because it is in a public school, we get about twice as many kids as we used to get at our VBS – we would get about 200 at a VBS and we get around 400 at KidsGames. And every year we have many kids who accept Christ as Savior. Last year we had over 60!
    We will probably never go back to VBS, but we will keep doing KidsGames as long as the school will allow it!

  9. PG says:

    who wouldn’t be in favor of an outreach, evangelistic VBS that reached lost kids and thus parents with the gospel…no brainer!!!
    Unfortunately, what I see is a competition to see how many kids we can get into our church program!
    99.9 % are from other churches. FREE babysitting
    Now if 1 child comes to know Christ..AMEN but we have started a Summer Park Ministry where we go into the community and clean the park or put care packages together for the troops, etc…The public schools love and promote it before school lets out!
    That is just one example of an alternative to Standard VBS


  10. Joseph Snodgrass says:

    Needs a new name. As a title, “Vacation Bible School” is seriously outdated, nonsensical and non-relevant to today’s culture. Some of the formats need an overhaul as well, (crafts are a little outdated for tech savvy older kids), but the concept itself is good, just needs a facelift to keep up with the times.

  11. Craig Wilson says:

    i believe there is no one blanket answer for the all Children’s Ministries across the board here. You can call it what you want “VBS, Family Crusade, Summer Spectacular etc.” It’s a ministry event. Does this event accomplish your churches vision, values and goals? If yes…fantastic keep doing it and call it whatever you want. Is it not accomplishing your churches vision, values and goals? No biggie, ditch it, or change it up, re-evaluate the goals and purpose of it.

    We still run a “VBS” style event. For us and our community, it is not a huge evangelistic event. of course we encourage our peeps to invite other peeps but it’s rooted in discipleship for our committed kids. Think of it as camp without going away. We don’t get hung up when a mom from another church sends out the email with every VBS event in the county. That’s another of God’s faithful in our nearby community who will be immersed in God’s word for a week….but hey that’s us! In my eyes it’s only babysitting if all i’m doing is playing games with their kids. You may decide for your ministry, the time, energy man hours and budget is not good stewardship for you to do this for that audience. For others, I am encouraged to hear some of you share that it is still a BIG evangelistic event for you! My only encouragement would be DO NOT continue doing the same thing because “we’ve always done it”. I am understanding and have compassion for those who feel stuck with it or pressured to do it.

    All that being said, I would love to hear from everyone at the end of summer how God blessed your “_____________(insert event name here).’!


    Craig W

  12. Kathy says:

    We are trying Family VBS on Wednesday nights during the summer. The parents will actually participate with their kids and we are adding component called “Family Connect” that will allow parents and children to interact on a spiritual level. We are hoping this may jump start some families to having family devotions at home and equipping and empowering parents to be the spiritual leaders of the home. So far, we have had a great response to this unprecedented VBS. Parents are excited to participate with their kids. Our kickoff night is June 8.

  13. Tammy Scott says:

    VBS starts NEXT WEEK! So excited. Love this week of loving kids to Jesus! I have dreams of writing, building and pulling off our own VBS. I have shared your article with my Children’s Ministry Team. We will get back to you!

  14. Wayne Hendell says:

    As a Christian VBS (once DVBS) I look at
    Mark10:14-16. This maybe the only time that they may hear the gospel. For the couple of hours a week or two we are able to be Christ like unto them. Remember what Christ did for you.

  15. Beth Falkenberg says:

    This is my first year as a Children’s Pastor, and I had always heard what an incredible VBS our church had each year. I remember my Sr. Pastor telling me that it pretty much ran itself…I remember thinking…yea, right!
    Well, he was right, it pretty much did run itself. I had over 100 volunteers, and our worship team did all of the music. We used the week as a training time for youth to learn how to run the sound system that week.
    It was an incredible week, and I was amazed!! We had 230 kids on Wednesday night and pretty much a revival in our 1st/2nd grade class! 48 kids prayed to receive Christ that week, and the Holy Spirit was so present. We always run an evening VBS so that the men in our church can be involved and I loved having them there! I really thought that I would be looking to do some other ministry next summer, but there is NO way after this amazing week watching God work in kids lives!! Praise God for a week that was more than I ever imagined!

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