FRANKLIN — By now, most churches across the state have taken down the decorations and packed up the cardboard and scissors.
Another year of Vacation Bible School is in the books.
But what many people don’t realize is that VBS is actually a year-round ministry, not a week-long event. The planning process is perpetually taking place — and more importantly, the impact of VBS, in many cases, lasts a lifetime.
Vicki Hulsey, childhood specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, says that for her, VBS is always front and center, whether its January or July.
“People are often surprised to find out that I work on VBS all year long,” Hulsey said. “During the year, I help with the coordination of a State VBS Team that travels throughout Tennessee, training associational teams, who then provide training for church VBS leaders. For me, this is one of the most exciting parts of VBS.”
Hulsey noted that it is during these times — the “off-peak” hours of Vacation Bible School — where some of the most vital work takes place.
“I believe training is essential to seeing people come to Christ through VBS,” she said.
“Nationally, statistics show that for every person trained in VBS, we see 1.1 salvations,” she added. “That motivates me!”
Although the final “stats” for this year’s VBS haven’t yet been finalized, most indications are that the event surpassed expectations around the state.
“I feel that VBS was a huge success based on the joy that radiated from the kids and leaders,” said Krista Steelman, children’s director at First Baptist Church, Goodlettsville.
“We had eight kids who made decisions to follow Christ — and that alone made the whole week worth it.”
Hulsey said she’s received similar praise reports from children’s leaders and VBS directors across Tennessee. (For related story on VBS, click HERE).
“I’ve rejoiced again and again this summer as I’ve heard from churches experiencing record enrollments,” she said. “And many churches have seen more salvation decisions than they’ve had in many years!”
To that end, Hulsey is encouraging church leaders and VBS directors to visit vbs.lifeway.com/churchreports to report on VBS.
Doing so, she said, will “help us celebrate what God has done through VBS and Backyard Kids Club 2023.”
“We want to hear from every church, regardless of the curriculum used,” she said. “This info helps us to better serve churches and to celebrate what God has done in Tennessee and around the world! I can’t wait to share the totals of how many lives were changed for eternity through VBS 2023.”
As always, there was a wide variety of themes used for VBS across Tennessee this summer, with one of the most popular being “Twists and Turns.” This theme was based around games — including classic tabletop games, video games and more.
“Playing is one of the best ways for kids to learn,” said Hulsey. “In (the Twists and Turns curriculum), kids, students and adults played their way through VBS while learning that Jesus guides them through all the twists and turns of their lives. They found that if they make a wrong turn in life, it’s never ‘game over.’ ”
Steelman said these types of timeless and practical applications are what make VBS so impactful year after year.
“VBS is a place for kids to learn about Jesus through music, recreation, crafts, missions and Bible study,” she said. “This shows kids that Jesus is in every aspect of our daily lives and not just when we sit down in church.”
Added Hulsey: “VBS is hard work. But it’s worth it! It mobilizes the entire church to reach the community with the gospel, while simultaneously providing a unique discipleship experience for the individual child and volunteer.” B&R