It was the summer of 2000. My husband and I had just arrived in the USA to pastor a small village church and were invited to attend Vacation Bible School. We had never experienced VBS whilst pastoring in England and were curious to see what it was all about. We found a handful of kids, gathered in a garage, singing along to a tape recorder, while a few faithful volunteers clapped to the beat.
Eight years later, when we left that little village, our Vacation Bible School had grown to over 100 children with 50 volunteers. The secret? Our three village churches comprising United Methodist, Presbyterian, and Assembly of God, managed to ignore our denominational differences and unite together as Christians with one single aim- to reach the children of our village with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we discovered 5 powerful reasons why you should never do VBS alone…
1. Your Team Will Be Stronger
It stands to reason…if you have a leadership team that is drawn from three or more different churches, you are going to create a much stronger team. Instead of relying on all your own people to make things happen, you now have a much wider range of people to help– each with their own different gifts and strengths to offer. It was amazing for us to see how God drew a talented leadership team together, from within our three churches. Using our varied gifts and skills, our Vacation Bible School became stronger and more creative every year.
2. Your Costs Will Be Less
I’ve never been good at Math, but it doesn’t take a genius to calculate that if two churches combine to offer VBS, their costs will be halved. The more churches combine, the less their individual costs will be. This is also a great opportunity for a larger church to ease the financial burden for a smaller church. If you invite your congregation to contribute items for your VBS, as many churches do, you will now be able to appeal to many congregations, instead of just one.
3. You Will Reach More Kids
If many churches are participating in your VBS, then your circle of influence has grown tremendously! Each participating church will be able to advertise within their own particular targeted communities, and amongst their own church families. In addition, If you can advertise within local schools, this will be a powerful way to promote your VBS.
4. Your Combined Efforts Will Be A Powerful Witness.
One wonderful and unexpected result from our three denominations uniting for Vacation Bible School was that this became a springboard for joining together in corporate worship. Each year, at the close of VBS, one of the churches would host worship at their church. The different congregations enjoyed worshiping together so much that we went on to hold Community Worship Services at three other times during the year, at Thanksgiving, Easter and Summer. One worshiper commented ‘I never knew we had so much in common with the Presbyterians!’ Joining together became a powerful and wonderful witness to everyone in our community.
5. You Will Be An Answer To Jesus’ Prayer
With so much quarreling over denominational differences, is it any wonder that Jesus’ final prayer for his followers was that all of them may be one? (John 17:21) In this powerful prayer for us, Jesus intercedes to the Father: May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me. (John 17: 23)
Methodist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God..we are Christians created to unite as an example to the world. If we can come together as the true body of Christ…each one using our own strengths to complement the other…then we are an answer to Jesus’ prayer.
When our three small churches took that step to unite for our Vacation Bible School, God took our efforts and multiplied them into something amazing. If you are brave enough to take that step, I think He will do the same for you.