VBS Meets the 21st Century

June 5, 2006 by

VBS–has there ever been a more churchy acronymn? Today those summer church programs for children (Vacation Bible School, for those who aren’t in the know) are far from glorified Sunday School. They’ve got video games, DVDs, Happy Meal-esque prizes and connections to major movies.

“Times have changed, and we have to keep up with our kids and we have to go along with some of the things they like,” said [Angila] McLaurine, who will send her two sons, 7 and 14, to vacation Bible school this year. “If not, we’re going to lose them.”

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Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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7 Responses to “VBS Meets the 21st Century”

  • Christian Web Trends
    June 6, 2006

    My church is very aware of how churchy the VBS acronym is as well as the impression many parents have from their youth that “Vacation Bible School” is simply Sunday School during the week. So, we call our program Camp Cypress (after Cypress Meadows Community Church.)
    We’re doing the Fiesta VBS program produced by Group Publishing. Our staff, volunteers, and kids love it. The only downside is that I’ve seen at least a half-dozen other churches in our area that have signs out front for the same VBS program.

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  • Brandon Meek
    June 6, 2006

    Our church is also doing the Fiesta. So is the church 150 yards from ours and the one that is 500 yards from ours.
    Why is it that some departments receive carte blanche to just buy their stuff instead of creating it? Would you go listen to a pastor every week knowing that he buys his messages from edtheevangelist.com? I better stop before the rant kicks in.

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  • kevin
    June 6, 2006

    My church is creating our own VBS unit based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The artist behind it all is a pretty creative person, so I’m eager to see how it turns out.
    Of course our church also gives VBS the even more unfortunate acronymn of GAC–Great Adventure Club.

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  • Caleb
    June 7, 2006

    To address the “church next to mine doing the same thing” we run a community VBS here in Saline, MI (www.SalineVBS.org). Once we had ~15 churches, droped down and this year is up again. You can check the web site for more info.
    One thing a community VBS does is generate a larger community effort – adults work with other adults in ministry they otherwise would never have the chance to do; children go to church with classmates they never attended church with before. Works great for us.

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  • Nancy A
    June 9, 2006

    I sent my kids to a high-tech, high-energy, lots-of-everything VBS once. They hated it. They said it was all noise. They couldn’t even get to know the other kids, there was so much going on. And too many dumb prizes for everything! Note that they were 6 and 8 at the time.
    Since then, whenever I raise the idea of going to a church-based summer program, they look at me in horror.
    Personally, I can’t see much point in proselytising to kids anyway. Better to occupy them in thoughtful, insightful programs that bring out their natural spirituality than to try to indoctrinate them using rock bands, tinsel toys, and dance moves.
    My opinion.

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  • Rob Childs
    June 12, 2006

    We’ve run our own VBS (although here in the UK we call it HBC, Holiday Bible Club, with all the same ‘churchy’ overtones as your VBS) for the last 4 years. the first one we only had a handful of kids but they all enjoyed it and it kick-started our failing children’s programs. the last two years we’ve had up to 50 kids (not bad for a church with a morning attendance of around 40). All of the work is done by a team of 4 or five volunteers starting work in January for a week long meeting in the summer. We do all our own themes and publicity material and we get great feedback from the kids, our once failing children’s program is now at a point where we strugle to get enough adult helpers.

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  • Jason
    June 23, 2012

    I love the new vbS. our daughter went to 2 this year one had 518 kids all divided in classes by color. They danced, sang , learned about how anger affects our relationship with God. It was high energy and they had video screens and singers and they created thier own vbs no store bought. Then last week she went to another church and they bought the amazing desert journey from Concordia. She enjoyed it to but not as much. In fact she kept asking when it was over.

    It was fun she said but watching it I knew the kids were not having lots of fun. Some were. But the videos for the vbs they showed were poor production quality and when the kids spoke on video it was laughable. I agree with poster above why can’t churches come up with thier own stuff?

    To the poster who’s kids hated the VBS it was not done right then. I come from a church with a large youth group and the kids have a blast every week. And we do lots of modern day stuff. Music, lights, and keep it cool and informative for the kids

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