The back drop is down. The plastic fish are deflated. And, the extra t-shirts have been boxed for return. VBS 2016 is officially over. And though it’s finished, the benefits of VBS have just begun to roll in. As we look to build on our VBS efforts, I want to take a few minutes and reflect on what happened at VBS this year. Let’s take a look:
Over all, I think this was the best Vacation Bible School that I have overseen during my time at First Baptist Church Eastman. Every class and activity ran seamlessly. Outside of having to send a few kids home for fighting (a normal occurrence) and having to overcome a few barely noticeable organizational glitches, almost everythingn went according to plan. We had a great team of over 110 teachers. They teachers decorated their rooms well, taught well, and invested in their kids. And the kids responded! Instead of losing kids after Wednesday night (a typical occurrence), our nightly totals remained consistent all week long. We actually set a new record high for attendance on Friday! And as the kids and their family came, they heard the gospel clearly proclaimed. A couple of kids expressed interest in following Christ as their savior! Others responded by giving $660.45 to our IMB Missionaries. As a result, yours truly got a pie in the face. Click here to see the video! God greatly blessed FBCE’s 2016 VBS! I am very thankful for all who helped and for all the kids who attended.
VBS BY The Numbers
Now some of you may have noticed that our VBS numbers were down. We averaged 166 per night this year. Last year, we averaged 201 kids per night, In 2014 we averaged 257 kids per night. Over the past two years, our VBS attendance has dropped by over 1/3. Initially, I found these numbers discouraging. My heart is to reach Eastman and Dodge County with the gospel. It appeared that our VBS was missing the mark. But upon further examination, I discovered three hopeful trends hiding within the larger numbers. Let’s take a look:
First, the largest demographic drop off came with kids that attend other churches. In 2014, 134 kids from other churches attended our VBS. This year only 17 kids from other churches came to FBCE’s VBS. That is a drop off of more than 88%.
Secondly, over the past 3 years, FBCE kids’ ministry has experienced a net loss of 38 students. Thirty-Eight more students have graduated out of our kids’ ministry than have been born into it. In short, our birth rate is not sustaining our kids’ ministry. Thankfully, our church is doing a good of reaching new families as the number of FBCE kids attending VBS has actually gone up the last two years. But with each passing year, it will become harder to sustain our church attendance numbers unless we start having more babies and start doing an even better job of reaching young families.
And now for the really good news. We are reaching a larger and larger number of unchurched kids and bus kids. In 2016, we reached 83 kids with no church home. In 2014, we only reached 52. In 2015, we reached 61 kids with the bus ministry. This year we reached 71! The right numbers are going up!
In short, our overall numbers dropped because we are not reaching kids who already have church home. I’m ok with that result. Our heart at FBCE is not to steal sheep. Our heart is to reach the lost. I am happy to report that our VBS is doing just that. Now, we can and must continue to find ways to more effectively reach the dying and the lost with the gospel. If you have ideas or thoughts on we can better connect with families, please share them below in the comment section. And then join me in thanking our God for giving us a great VBS!