25 percent of baptisms in Tennessee and nationally result from Vacation Bible School
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Vacation Bible School has been around for decades, but it is still one of the most effective evangelism tools in the Southern Baptist Convention, according to two Tennessee Baptist Convention specialists.
“In Tennessee Baptist life we know that approximately 25 percent of our professions of faith come either through VBS or Backyard Kids Clubs,” said Steve Pearson, TBC evangelism specialist.
Those numbers come from years of tracking VBS statistics nationwide by LifeWay Christian Resources, Pearson noted.
Pearson encourages pastors to fully support and to be involved in VBS each year.
Recalling his 36 years of ministry, Pearson said he could not imagine missing the week of VBS in the churches he served. “Why would I miss out on one of the greatest evangelistic weeks the church does every single year?”
In addition to professions of faith, VBS also helps a church to grow, to impact its community for Christ and to see an increase in Sunday School/Small Group Bible Study attendance, said Vicki Hulsey, TBC children’s specialist.
“Vacation Bible School is a ministry designed to reach people of all ages, leading them to know and respond to Jesus Christ as led by the Holy Spirit,” she said.
Reasons for churches to hold VBS each year are numerous, Hulsey said, citing national VBS statistics from LifeWay.
- 25 percent of baptisms reported by the SBC come from VBS.
- Every one person trained in VBS results in 1.1 salvation decisions.
- 10 percent of people enrolled in VBS are unchurched.
- 2.7 million people enroll in VBS each year.
- 72,925 people each year accept Christ as Lord and Savior.
- 2,666 people commit their lives to church-related vocations through VBS.
- 56,386 people enroll in Sunday School/Small Group Bible Study as a result of attending VBS.
God particularly blessed Tennessee through Vacation Bible School in 2014 (2015 statistics not yet available), Hulsey observed.
She noted that 1,853 Tennessee Baptist churches reported having a VBS and/or a Backyard Kids Cub with 248,652 enrolled. In addition, 6,051 people made decisions to accept Christ as Savior as a result of attending VBS in 2014 in Tennessee Baptist churches, Hulsey said.
Churches also discovered 13,265 prospects as a result of VBS, she added.
While those numbers are exciting, they are probably much higher, Hulsey said, noting that it is important for churches that hold VBS to report their enrollments and salvation decisions on the VBS report form. She observed that many churches only report having a VBS on the Annual Church Profile but that captures only enrollment totals. “The VBS report form is the only tool that we have to capture information on spiritual decisions made through VBS,” she said.
She stressed that VBS report is not limited to churches using LifeWay curriculum. “The goal is to see every church report in order to give God the glory for the results,” she said.
“Each of those numbers represent a life and each salvation decision represents a life that has been changed for eternity,” Hulsey continued.
She said that by reporting their results churches can help churches that do not hold VBS to see that it is still an effective tool for reaching the unsaved with the gospel of Christ.
“We need to celebrate lives that are being changed for eternity through the ministry of VBS in Tennessee,” she stressed.
Though churches are in the midst of preparing for 2016, it is not too late to turn in VBS reports for last year, she said. Churches can download the 2015 VBS report form at www.tnvbs.org.
As Hulsey looks toward this year, she already is excited about the potential for professions of faith across the state through VBS.
Noting the statistic that there are 1.1 professions of faith for every person trained in VBS, Hulsey said the number of leaders trained for 2016 is currently tracking approximately 10 percent ahead of the leaders trained last year in Tennessee. The largest training numbers are still to come from our associational VBS and Spanish VBS training. In addition, training also will be offered for those who work in Backyard Kids Clubs, she added.
In 2014, the TBC ranked second among state conventions in training VBS workers, trailing only the Alabama Baptist Convention. In fact, Alabama and Tennessee have held those spots for a number of years, she added.
Hulsey noted that TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis is a huge University of Alabama fan, but that he agrees with Hulsey that the TBC needs to unite to “Beat BAMA,” at least in VBS training.
“If we work together, 2016 could be the year that Tennessee trains more leaders than any other state in the nation. Even better, we could see the largest number of salvation decisions ever through VBS in Tennessee,” Hulsey said. “What a victory!”
Associational teams were trained in February to train church VBS leaders all across the state, Hulsey said.
“Churches can plan now for leaders to attend an associational VBS clinic, knowing that for every person trained, there is the potential of seeing an equal amount of salvation decisions,” she said.
Churches can contact their local association office for up-coming VBS training dates, she suggested.
Continued use of VBS materials
While many Tennessee churches use the traditional LifeWay-produced curriculum, many do not. The important thing, Hulsey said, is to “make sure you don’t end up with a curriculum that is strong on fun, but weak on Bible content.
“Before making a decision, spend time investigating how the theme and biblical content tie together. Make sure that Bible study is more than telling a story, but includes strong life application, she suggested.
Once VBS is over, Hulsey said churches can continue to use their VBS materials, regardless of the curriculum used.
She suggested that churches use their materials for mission trips, Backyard Kids Clubs, Wednesday night children’s programs, one-day community events, summer activities, and more.
For more information, contact Hulsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.