Archives For Programs

To VBS or not to VBS

Tammy Jones —  February 3, 2011

Vacation Bible School is alive and well in many areas all around our country. For many small churches VBS may be the biggest outreach of the year. However, some ministry leaders consider Vacation Bible School to be obsolete and ineffective. VBS is being replaced by more family-oriented events.

The decision to banish Vacation Bible School from your church calendar should not be taken lightly. Here are a few tips to help you and your team in a your decision.

1. Prayer–This should go without saying. Seek God’s will for your church.

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Disclaimer: This isn’t a commentary about Walmart, or discourse about how they are affecting the business and economic climate in various areas, or even an endorsement of Walmart. In fact, this could relate to any “big box” store, I just opted to use Walmart as the example. Though it may sound like it, I am not “bashing” large, or multi-site, churches either. These are my thoughts designed to spark your own thoughts and view on the topic.

A couple of weeks ago, Tony Kummer wrote an article for a series of articles being written about the “Future of Children’s Mnistry” (you can read it here). His article spurred some thoughts in me, and I wanted to share them here. Item # 3 in his article really struck a chord with me. It was “Church Consolidation”.

I wondered if the Mega Church movement we see today is the Walmart mentality in ministry. Are these mega-churches (even churches with about 500 members or more) destroying the smaller local church? While I have not verified the stat, I believe I heard that approximately 80% of churches in PA (maybe the country) have an average membership/attendance of around 100 – 150, and the mindset of  many people is that bigger is better.

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In part one of this article, I talked about how to identify a dying program, ministry or event. I also promised to offer some thoughts on how you might be able to breathe new life into such a program, ministry, or event. That’s what we will do here in Part 2 of “A Season for Everything.”

Let’s start by going on the record – When the time comes for a program to end, we should end it. I stand completely firm in that conviction. However, there may be a program that is faltering that still has life to it and could still be effective for the kingdom. It is programs like these which may be teetering on the brink which we will consider today.

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1. This passage goes on to tell us that there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to keep and a time to throw away. Christians often quote this passage when making a transition in our personal lives, yet when we think of the season for a program within the church ending we are rarely so casual. There is a season for everything and even as summer must turn into fall so must the programs within the church pass to make way for the next season. With the end of one season comes some happiness and some sorrow. Such is also the case with the passing of a program within the church. Now, I am not trying to say that we should approach the passing of a program as casually as spring turning into summer. What I am saying is that we should accept this inevitability even as we accept that the next season is going to come, with or without our approval. No matter how passionate we may be about summer, winter is going to come and, likewise, no matter how passionate we may be about a program, event or ministry their season is going to end.

That brings up the question, “how do I know when the season for a ministry is ending and how do I end it well?” This is a big question, and it’s one I’m certain most people in ministry have considered. In this article I will do my best to address the first part of this question, in subsequent articles I will give some ideas of how to save a dying program and finally how to end it when the time comes. One thing I will not do is tell you that there is an easy way to know when the season is ending, or that there is an easy way to end it. What I will do is give you some signs that it might be ending. I refer only to programs in this article, but the concepts here will apply to any program, event, ministry, or other activity within your church.

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