As part of HTHSOE training, we encourage local congregations to shut down all works that cannot be tied to evangelism until they can be reworked into a soul winning/saving mission.Vacation Bible School should be viewed as an opportunity to win souls. VBS can be evangelistic, but it would take a major overhaul for most congregations. Sadly, some VBSs have more vacation than Bible and more play than school. They have drifted far away from a soul- centered work. Here are a few suggestions to help make VBS evangelistic.

First, make sure the material is not generically themed with watered down messages. In short, if you could hear the message at a denominational group, it will not differentiate the church of Christ from these man-made bodies. We will never be able to outperform, outproduce, or create more fanfare than our religious neighbors. Even if we could, what is the benefit? (I would recommend looking at the material produced by Family Bible Publications. You can find it Our lessons need to be Christ centered (Acts 8:4-5,12). This takes a lot of work since many publishers produce watered-down teaching to boost sales. Subjects like obedience, Bible faith, the church/kingdom, worship, salvation, repentance, baptism, judgement, heaven, and hell should be included. Using Old Testament accounts can illustrate these themes, but the “story” without the message is vain.

Second, there should be an all-out effort to bring in the community. VBS can generate contacts as no other event during the year. Post large banners to draw attention, use HTH to announce to and invite every family by mail, and knock doors to build awareness. Most importantly, ask the members to actively invite neighbors and family to attend. VBS should be a community outreach mission, not just a fun time for children.

Third, make sure to have an adult class to reach non-Christians. Themed classes on the home, parenting, moral issues, and apologetics are attractive to parents of all religious backgrounds. The adult class does not have to mirror the children’s classes. Think outside the box. Be creative.

Fourth, have a strategy in place to ensure all non-Christians families are greeted. This is a great time to use visitor bags to get contact information. Families should be selected to look for visitors, sit with them, and extend meal invitations. Allowing a visitor to walk in our assembly and leave without getting contact information is inexcusable.

These are just a few ideas. It is a lot of work to change congregational culture, but VBS is a great place to start.

Congregational Reports
Willow Avenue church of Christ, Jonathan Medley (deacon) reports, “I got the thumbs up from the elders this morning that we do want to participate in the program. I’m excited that we are! They did say they wanted me to be your main point of contact at the congregation, so feel free to pass anything along to me, and I’ll make sure it gets into the correct hands. They said it may take a while to get everything implemented because we are going to have to restructure a lot of the programs we already have. On a good note, we already have a contact that was brought to me this morning by one of our members that attended. He had said he would love for someone to come talk to him about the church. I talked to Ben about it after services, and we are going to go see him this week and also load him up with cards!  Don already has a Bible study set up for Tuesday. Thanks for your training. May souls be saved!”

Lake Region church of Christ, Tilton, New Hampshire: David Rollert (preacher) reports, “We met Stephani when she visited our Sunday evening service on Easter. She was going through a rough time in life, and she knew that both she and her young son needed to look to God. She grew up Catholic but had become disillusioned with the Catholic church when she reached adulthood. As we chatted with her, it was clear that she was eager to learn more about the Bible and salvation, so we scheduled a study with her that Tuesday. We worked through the three Back to the Bible booklets over the next three weeks, and she was eager to learn all that she could. When we read Matthew 7:21-23, she realized that she was not in a saved condition like she had thought and was anxious to learn what to do to be saved. When we studied Romans 6:3-5, she was eager to be baptized. There was no hesitation when we asked her if she wanted to be baptized that very day. Stephani was baptized into Christ on Tuesday, May 4. She will be joining our New Christians class taught by one of our elders, Bob Blouin. To God be the Glory!”

Lithia Springs church of Christ, Georgia: Larry Acuff (preacher/elder) reports, “Bro. Rob, praying for your meeting at New Union. Here are the names of the six people we baptized recently:  Bryan and Sherrill Montcalm, Ginny Cribb, Spencer Green, Caleb Harris, and C.J. Sexton. We have several in the pipeline. Keep up the good work. We are also using new movers and compassion cards to generate contacts.”

East Ridge church of Christ, Chattanooga, Tennessee: Charles Cochran (preacher) reports, “Hi Rob. Just a note to let you know that Luke Griffin and I had a visit with a House to House contact last night. Luke set up a Bible study with her. Tonight, one of our elders and I took a welcome basket to his neighbor. They were newcomers. The lady promised to visit our services. One of our deacons gave a great report on our evangelism outreach this past Sunday morning. He will do this periodically! So things are going forward at East Ridge! To God be the glory!”

South Cobb church of Christ, Georgia: Brother Thomas Tidwell reports, “We have our evangelism table set up! Things are going well. We also have an opportunity to serve the elementary school near us next week—and we have had the ladies sign cards to give to the teachers thanking them for the work they do—hopefully, this will open some doors.”

Cowetta church of Christ, Oklahoma: Keno Shrum (preacher) reports, “This week was an amazing week that resulted in two baptisms after going through the final lessons of Back to the Bible. The results of our Evangelism Campaign were four baptisms in five weeks since the seminar. We have been blessed to be able to continue with several Bible studies. We also have been active in our Compassion Cards Ministry. I do want to share an experience from this week. On Saturday I officiated a funeral service for a friend who passed away recently. We had been friends for 25 years.

Afterwards, Jamie and I were visiting with some of his family members. One member of his family was sharing with us that he was having some difficult times in his life, unrelated to the recent death of my friend. We visited for about 10-15 minutes and as we were wrapping up our conversation, I asked him if he would like to have a Bible Study. I told him I was confident that a relationship with Christ would help what he is going through. He happily accepted and the study was scheduled for this coming Friday. As we walked away, he stopped me and said, “You know, I really appreciate that. You are the first person who has ever asked me for a Bible study.” I told him I am looking forward to it and we parted ways.

As I walked away, I thought to myself, “How  many people in this world WANT to hear about Jesus but do not know to ask, and because we are too busy picking instead of planting, we never ask them.” I share this to ask all who are reading to please consider this. We have no authority to judge who will and who will not accept the gospel. As you say often, Rob, let’s plant, not pick. Please keep these studies in your prayers as we continue to pray for you, your family, and all those who labor in His name. God Bless!”

Beattie Road church of Christ, Albany, Georgia: Charles Harris reports, “The Gospel of Christ program recently began airing episodes here in Albany. Anna Taylor watched a few of the programs and contacted those involved. I was then contacted and given Anna’s phone number. After talking with Anna, she was interested in Bible study. My wife and I studied with her and she was baptized after booklet 3 of Back to the Bible.”