TALLAHASSEE (FBC)—Do you have a special memory of Vacation Bible School etched deeply in your mind? Perhaps you recall a special craft, song or friend. For many children in the Sunshine State, VBS in more than just a fun memory; it’s a life-changing experience.
Year after year in church after church, thousands of children make professions of faith as a result of VBS.
In the past five years (2008-2012), at least 14,513 children made salvation decisions in Florida Baptist churches during VBS, according to David Moore, VBS coordinator for Florida Baptists.
It’s not unusual, after a child has made a profession of faith as a result of VBS, for entire families to make or renew their faith commitments, he said.
Immanuel Baptist Church in Tallahassee is one church in particular that recognizes the unique evangelistic opportunity offered by VBS.
“We love VBS at Immanuel,” said pastor Rich Kincl. “It is all about Jesus.”
According to Kincl, VBS is “the premiere outreach emphasis of the year for our church. It allows us to reach out to our community and is the first touch for many families with Immanuel.”
Planning begins months in advance as teachers are enlisted and trained, with the entire process immersed in prayer. Wristbands, bearing teachers’ names, are distributed to church members who are encouraged to pray for teachers by name. During the two Sunday morning worship services prior to the start of VBS, pastor Kincl leads in a special prayer for the children and adults who will participate in the week; on the Wednesday just prior to VBS, church members participate in a church-wide prayer walk.
“Our people love doing this. It involves the entire congregation in VBS!” he said.
This year, the church, which runs approximately 1,000 on a typical Sunday morning in its three worship services, welcomed almost half (484) of its Sunday morning number to the daily VBS.
Intense promotion of the week attracted not only church members’ children but also unchurched neighborhood children to this year’s “Colossal Coaster World” week.
As the week unfolded, teachers sought to “be sensitive to the spiritual needs of the children,” said Kincl. Then, on Thursday morning, after the children had been learning the basics of the gospel through a fun, animated song, the pastor led in an evangelistic joint worship service, giving children an opportunity to step to the front of the sanctuary if they wanted to talk with an adult leader about making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
This year, church member, deacon and adult Sunday School leader Carl Fuqua had agreed to serve as an evangelistic counselor on Thursday morning. As his morning began, a series of frustrating experiences, unrelated to VBS, tempted him to forego his commitment.
“It has been a tough morning. They’ve got plenty of people there,” he reasoned to himself.
“Then the Lord spoke to me. “You’re meant to be there,’ He said. ‘It’s about sacrifice, not your schedule.”
The weary man kept his commitment and watched as a young boy, Cale Cox, walked toward him for counseling during the service.
Convinced the little boy understood his decision with a childlike faith, Fuqua led him through a prayer of commitment.
“A couple of times during the prayer, I started to tear up a bit. His sweet voice and his sincerity reminded me of the joy in sharing our faith,” said the father of three.
The little boy was one of 17 children who made professions of faith as a result of VBS at Immanuel Baptist Church this year. Follow-up with not only the children who make professions of faith but also with their families is extensive and ongoing, said the pastor.
“We are glad to be a church that promotes VBS and boys and girls getting saved!” said Kincl.
Decisions of faith as a result of VBS reported by Florida Baptist churches:
2013 is not available; reports are coming in now.
Total decisions reported for the five years: 14,513
*These numbers do not reflect all of the decisions that were made at VBS in Florida Baptist churches. These numbers are from the churches that sent in their reports.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.