Our church just finished a week of Vacation Bible Time, a summer feature that has taken place for multiple decades at Greater Rhode Island Baptist Temple. We praise the Lord for the results. Some of our finest workers took a week of vacation to minister to kids coming from dysfunctional families living in the projects of Providence. Our records indicate that seventy-seven of these children met with individual counselors and prayed to receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Amen!
I was ecstatic to discover that our church was not alone. Numerous pastors who I follow on Twitter tweeted that their churches experienced similar results. Workers worked hard, money was given, and souls were saved. Praise the Lord! In recent years, the high price of gasoline, the increased rowdiness of children, and taxing strain on workers has forced the question, “Is Vacation Bible Time still worth it, or has it seen its day?” Let me suggest several things.
Number one, Vacation Bible School should primarily exist for evangelism. To be sure, there are still some churches that have Vacation Bible School for White Anglo Saxon Protestant children. Such Bible schools tell Bible stories, take offerings, and glue Popsicle sticks together as crafts. If this is all we are doing, then perhaps major reevaluation is necessary. If, however, our Bible schools are storming the very bastions of hell by penetrating inter-city projects with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, then there is no price tag that we can put on the souls that are saved. For every kid that misses hell and gets heaven, the cost and effort invested is well worth it.
Second, when we storm the bastions of hell, we should anticipate satanic opposition. Some of the projects where our buses run are among some of the most demonic strongholds in our entire state. Should we expect things to run “smoothly” when we are so aggressively taking back hearts where the devil is used to having sway? A certain amount of opposition is bound to be expected from dissatisfied parents, depraved children, and disgruntled workers. The rewards, however, are worth the hassle.
Third, any attempt to stop an aggressive Bible school is an attempt to rob church members of valuable life lessons. For some, this will be the first opportunity to win a child to Christ. It will give some teens in our church their first taste of aggressive, life-changing ministry. There will be a deep satisfaction among many as they lay their tired heads on the pillow at night that they have lived for something and Someone greater than themselves. VBS is a strong reminder that God awards the sacrificial rather than the sedimentary. God honors labor rather than laziness. God is calling laborers, not loafers into His harvest.
And finally, VBS is an opportunity to train young people that entitlement is not the path Christ has asked us to follow. At our annual Vacation Bible Time this year, our penny offering did not go to defray the cost of the week, but rather went to local churches in the Middle East who need assistance in supporting Christian refugees who are fleeing persecution. The kids and workers responded marvelously by giving over $880 in pennies. Our bus kids who live in government housing were able to see adults who sacrificed self and money to help the less fortunate. Many were able to participate themselves in this enterprise, which is at variance with everything they have been told previously. They were able to be givers rather than takers. Praise the Lord!
As the bus workers managed their daily routes, as teachers and their assistants shared the Gospel in classrooms across the campus, as game coordinators taught fair play and respect, as penny offering ladies rolled assistance for struggling Christian refugees, something special happened on our campus this week. God did something in us, for us, through us, and to us. And for this, we are thankful. It is not an understatement to say that VBS is one of the most important weeks in our calendar year. And I as a pastor tend to keep doing it regardless of the cost and fatigue, for in this week I have seen a biopsy of what church should be about every week.