I wrote a post on my personal blog about how we changed our minds on VBS, One of the points that I got the most questions about was why a VBS has to be a church-wide event. I have had experiences doing VBS as a departmental event and as a church-wide event. VBS is such a large event that it either adds to the life of the church or it drains life from the children’s ministry department within the church. Here are a few of the differences I have found between a departmental VBS and a church-wide VBS.
A department VBS is lost in the sea of summer promotions. With a church-wide VBS, every department feels the pressure so they each push its importance. We canceled our worship team practice because we needed the space but it said to worship team that we are in this together. It served as a reminder that they should register their kids and invite others to come. We canceled our regular programming for youth ministry the week of VBS because of space and because so many of our youth are involved in making VBS a reality.
A department VBS is done on a limited budget. When you have church-wide expectations and the reputation of the church is resting on the VBS, the budget matches the expectations of the church in the department.
A department VBS is staff-driven and you run into competing departmental needs for space and time. A church-wide VBS is driven by the Lead Pastor in terms of departmental unity as well as expectations for the event.
A department VBS is pushing up the need for training and discipiling the next generation. A church-wide VBS pushes out to the church the idea that we as a community of faith are responsible to train the next generation.
One of the other things that changed is why we started doing VBS. It wasn’t to primarily attract people to our church even though that is one of the reasons. The primary reason we do VBS is to partner with parents and disciple kids. I stopped doing a departmental VBS years ago because it wasn’t accomplishing our goals. We restarted VBS last year as a church-run VBS and it’s amazing.