How do we reach our communities with the Gospel? Every pastor and every church that has the heart of Jesus asks that question regularly. We are often puzzled about how to break the barriers that keep us from engaging lost people. I have found that for the majority of Christians it is much easier to identify the obstacles than to see the countless opportunities.

Most of us are looking for the latest way to get the Gospel into the lives of the people around us. I am glad that Southern Baptist churches continue to utilize one of the oldest but greatest outreach tools available, and that is Vacation Bible School. Research verifies that VBS is a way to reach both children and their parents with the Gospel.

VBS deserves our best in creativity, teaching and follow-up. What a privilege to teach children the eternal truths of Scripture in exciting and innovative ways! I am so thankful for the army of volunteers who prepare and give themselves away during a week of high impact Gospel ministry.

One of the most crucial elements of VBS should not be overlooked. It is not enough to teach the Bible or even to communicate the truth of the Gospel. Older children need to be given the opportunity to embrace the Gospel and accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. VBS provides a wonderful occasion to offer an invitation to follow Christ.

Some worry about a large group evangelistic service. They are concerned that children will be pressured to make decisions or feel a need to respond because their friends have done so. These fears can easily be set aside if the pastor or leader gives a clear invitation that is not charged with emotion.

One thing must never be forgotten. Children are saved by the same Gospel and in the same way as adults. Children must understand sin, its eternal consequences, repentance and faith. We must never water down the claims of Christ for anyone. A child who cannot understand the simple but necessary truths of the Gospel is not ready to respond. But my own experience is that God has prepared the hearts of many who attend VBS, and they are ready to surrender to Christ.

God will send many children to VBS who have never been involved in your church-but VBS is not just for kids. Children have parents and grandparents. Getting kids to VBS or even seeing them come to faith in Christ is not our only goal. Our objective should be to win the family. I clearly remember several families whose first experience with the church and the Gospel was through VBS.

I hope that we will call the church to prayer as we approach VBS. We need to pray for God’s strength and wisdom as well as sensitivity for the workers. We should call to the Father to give the children open hearts and minds to hear the truths of Scripture and respond to them.

Lord, prepare us to be Your instruments to reach many children and parents through the time-honored tool of Vacation Bible School.