Agency D3 is in the books. The investigation of the evidence surrounding the person of Jesus Christ has been completed. As I walked around the church building this past Sunday morning, I could not help but think that it looked as if Vacation Bible School had never happened. No more colorful decorations and screaming children. Vacation Bible School makes for a very long week around the church. If you take into account the weeks leading up to the actual teaching week, many long, long hours have been logged over the past three weeks. I heard one of our workers say this past week, “There is tired and then there is Vacation Bible School tired.” This is absolutely true. Although it is physically and emotionally draining, it is worth it. When it comes to Vacation Bible School, I’m all in. I’m sold on its ministry value. I fully understand how important this week is in the life and overall ministry of the church. Now that Vacation Bible School 2014 is over, allow me to make a few observations.
1. Attendance: For better or worse, this is often the marker by which Vacation Bible School is judged as a success or a failure. I am not completely sold on this. I am not exactly sure what our average attendance was for the week. I do know that is was down from last year. Although lower, I was encouraged by our attendance. I know that may sound odd. My reason for being encouraged is not so much about how many, but who was here. It is obvious that our people were active in inviting others this week. I know this because as the kids passed through the Missions Rotation that I was leading, they wanted me to meet their friends they had brought with them. Again this year our students met the same week as our children. I was encouraged to see the largest number in Youth VBS than I had seen in years, about 16 each night. This does not count the high school students who were assisting in other areas. We had the children who were members of other churches. That is perfectly fine. We are happy to have them for a week. We also had students who were unchurched and not affiliated with a local church. This is one of the markers by which I judge success. If I can answer the question “Were we able to have children with no church affiliation on campus with us for a week and be exposed to the gospel?” positively, then we were successful. Our Adult VBS was not only made up of our own church members. One of goals in Adult Vacation Bible School is to give parents who are not involved in a local church a place to go instead of dropping their children off and going home. We accomplished our goal here. Parents had the opportunity to interact and meet other people in a non-threatening manner and be exposed to the gospel message. I believe this was a success as well.
2. Volunteers: I am thankful to all of the volunteers who worked this week. As I mentioned earlier, it was a long week. It was also very hot. I am especially thankful and grateful to all of our teachers who worked full-time jobs who left work and came straight to church for five straight days. I want to especially mention and thank those who worked in the kitchen all week. During our Vacation Bible School, we skip the Snack Rotation. Instead, we choose to provide a meal for parents, children, and workers every night. Our kitchen workers came out early, set everything up, served the kids, and stayed until all was cleaned up. This year we had many new faces working in Vacation Bible School. This is always a good thing. I say to all of our 30 plus workers, thank you. I also want to thank the summer student missionaries who are a part of the Savannah River Baptist Association Low Country Ministries who came out and helped with our big kick-off event. To all those who worked so hard, your pastor wants you to know that you are appreciated.
3. Ministry: Any time you have kids on campus you have an opportunity to be engaged in real, one-on-one, life-changing ministry. It was good to be able to spend some time with these kids one on one. During our Worship Rally, our students take up an offering each night. There is anticipated and spirit-filled battle between boys and girls to see who can raise the most money for our designate ministry cause. This gives us an opportunity to further educate our students on the importance of missions. I am excited to report that this year we raised almost $300 for M28 Church in Atlanta, a North American Mission Board church plant that we have the pleasure to partner with. To the best of my knowledge we did not have any public professions of faith. I can’t explain it in human reasoning. For many who read this, you might say we failed as a church in Vacation Bible School. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are here to share a message and plant a seed, understanding that it is God who gives the increase. We trust God’s Word knowing that it will not return unto Him void. Real ministry takes place when you take time to listen, talk to, and show love toward a child in the name of Christ. This is what we did this week. If down the road a year or two or five, in God’s timing, a gospel presentation is given and a child responds because of something that was planted in their heart this week, then we were faithful to have done our part.
Overall, we had a great week and look forward to what comes out of the efforts of this week. Again I want to thank every teacher, worker, and parent who allowed their child to be a part of our Vacation Bible School. We are eagerly looking forward to Lifeway’s VBS 2015; “Journey Off the Map” in only eleven short months.