I occasionally go online and do a little VBS research, mainly curious to see what a few Google searches reveal. Not surprisingly VBS links and articles abound for themes, crafts, games, and food. But evangelism training is often sparse.
What are some practical ways churches can be more pro-active in evangelism with their summer VBS programs?
Prayer is a great way to get the whole church involved. Some people are not gifted with working with children, but are known prayer warriors. Capitalize on that strength! Here are a few ideas:
• Put together a prayer team that prays for each registered child by name. This could be done with a group of people who get together to pray, or people could divvy up names and pray for them throughout the week. (Be cautious of giving out too much personal information about the children. In some cases, only a first name should be given.)
• Ask your congregation to pray, or pray and fast for a set number of days before, during, and even after VBS. You might ask them to pray for 30 days. It might be 14 days. But give them specifics. More people will pray when they have a common goal to work toward. For example: pray for 30 days that 30 new kids will hear the gospel for the first time, or pray for 20 days afterward that the kids will genuinely live out what they have been taught at VBS.
It is becoming more and more imperative to offer training for all of your VBS workers on an annual basis. Here are a few tips:
• Host a mandatory training before VBS starts that presents a method of telling the gospel to children. There are many good methods out there (Example: EvanTell's free CrossTalk App), but whatever the method it should include 3 main elements: (1) All of us are sinners, (2) Christ died for sinners and rose again, and (3) salvation is by trusting in Christ alone (not our works, not a prayer, or anything else).
• Warn your workers of common phrases that are often unclear and sometimes even unbiblical. For example, encourage them not to say “ask Jesus into your heart” or “give your heart to Jesus.” This is not what the Bible instructs us to do, and can be very confusing to children who often understand words by their basic or literal meanings rather than metaphorically. (See also: "4 Phrases to Stop Using in Evangelism")
• Be cautious of the word repent. This word can have a variety of meanings in the Bible depending on context. In an evangelism context, repentance means “to change your mind about whatever is keeping you from trusting in Christ.”
• Give creative suggestions (or brainstorm suggestions with workers) on how to incorporate the gospel into your VBS theme. For example, the song leader might be able to point out to the children an evangelism element from the theme song or another song that is sung throughout the week.
Do you know a church that does a good job training their children’s workers? I’d be interested in hearing about it. Or perhaps you have suggestions to add to the list. I’d love to hear your feedback.
See also the following related articles on child evangelism:
“Sharing the Gospel with Children without Manipulation”
“Essential Tips for Presenting the Gospel to Kids in Group Settings”