Is VBS Broken – Pt. 2 “Outreach Oriented”
What does a VBS program that is Outreach Oriented look like? To invest the time, volunteers and financial resources into an event and not be intentional about reaching out is poor stewardship. When discussing reaching the community, I am not talking about people that dont go to our church. I’m talking about people that dont go to ANY church – but more importanty people who would not even acknowledge the name of Jesus. What does outreach look like for THESE people. How do we have to tweak the events we do – not just VBS – if our hope is to have a voice among the noise in their lives? In the grand scheme of things, I know that inviting people into anything happening in our building is not the best way to reach the lost. The Field of Dreams whisper “If you build it, they will come” does not make for a good evangelism slogan. But if we plan a event, we ought to think about how it is going to be perceived/received by the community.
So how do we ensure that we are doing our best to be Outreach Oriented?
1.Is it Original?
Unless a non-christian has already begun their search for Jesus, an invitation to go to school for vacation and study the Bible is not going to be very appealing. I pass by nearly 20 churches on my way to work (that’s Nashville for you). Nearly all of them do a VBS and half of them put out signs. Would it catch your eye if after passing 10 banners for VBS a church had something catchy in ther lawn advertizing an event called something else? What if the event had a theme that could not be identified on any other banner in town?
This does not mean the curriculum has to be written in house. I know that some of the major publishing companies come up some pretty “original” stuff. Who ever heard of using a crocodile and a dock to teach kids about Jesus. But an original idea in the hands of a dozen churches in the same town doesn’t raise eyebrows. Find or write your own curriculum that is not being used by anyone else in town!
1.Is it General?
If people without faith walk into our “fruits of the Spirit” themed VBS, is it going to make sense to them. Do they know who the Spirit is? Sometimes to be able to have a voice in people’s lives, we need to talk less specifics and more broadly to meet them where they are at. I have taught some really great lessons that assumed the kids already knew parts of the Bible and that they would be able to get it even though I was using “churchy” words.
1.Is it Familiar?
Think music and atmosphere on this one. When people walk in, are they going to feel at home? Much of the music written for VBS program has a style that would ONLY be heard at a VBS. Is is possible to use music that sounds a bit more like stuff they were listening to on the radio? When they walk in the doors, is the place decorated like a museum they would visit on the weekend or a Bible Times Marketplace that they would never normally set foot in. Bible Times Marketplaces are great for adding cultural background for people who are already bought into the message of the Bible. For people who question it’s authority, the atmosphere needs to look more familiar.
I certainly do not have all this figured out. Simply working through some of this openly with this community. I appreciate your thoughts. Blessings.