The Heart of VBS—Evangelism

carol_editedBack in 1996  the VBS team felt God leading them to revisit the format and principles of "doing" VBS. In 1997 the new VBS was rolled out with The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede. Many of you could probably sing the theme song and have fond of memories of attending or leading VBS that year, but you may not have been aware that one of the driving principles of VBS was and is evangelism.

VBS is meant to be more than just a fun event for your church kids, more than just a summer diversion from the norm, more than just another program to check off the list. At the heart of VBS is evangelism. It's that one chance you may have at getting those who might not otherwise step foot in a church to have an encounter with the Lord.

Recently at our Preview events Kelli McAnnly led a session outlining why we do VBS and strategies for embracing the true heart of VBS—reaching people of all ages, leading them to know and respond to Jesus Christ as led by the Holy Spirit. Kelli was gracious enough to allow me to share how she used the acrostic AGENCY D3 to help conferees be intentional about evangelism.


  • Be aware of those around us that do not have a personal relationship with Christ.
  • View those in our churches and community who are hurting, lost, sad, and in need of Christ through His perspective and become aware of their lost souls.


  • Offer VBS as a reason to intentionally invite lost people to your church
  • Give people a bridge to the spiritual orphans in your community.
  • Give people an opportunity to clearly present the gospel
  • Give people an opportunity to respond to Christ in a public way.


  • Enable your church to work together towards the Great Commission.
  • Enable VBS directors, leaders, parents, and staff to share the love of Christ with kids and their families.


  • Being evangelistic navigates an entry point for unchurched people.
  • Attract people to your church with programs like VBS for their kids. Then you can help them navigate the gospel and how it connects to their lives.
  • Remember the gospel makes VBS relevant. Without the gospel, it is just fun and games.


  • Connect with families. The initial follow-up contact should be the discovery of the family network.
  • Pass information discovered on to the follow-up team and to age group classes.
  • Invite each member of the family to the appropriate Bible study class and other ministry opportunities.
  • Plan to have multiple contacts with the family over the following months.


  • Yield and surrender your heart to God's plan
  • Use bold, creative strategies to teach people about Christ.


  • Display—display the gospel. Be people who are evangelistic.
  • Demonstrate—demonstrate a life that follows Christ. Do things that bring Him glory.
  • Declare—declare the gospel. Tell people about Christ.

There are an estimated 313 million people living in the US. 98 million of those have accepted Jesus as their Savior. 43% of those accepted Jesus before reaching the age of 13. According to George Barna, evangelism is most effective among kids. Where is your heart?


  1. Carol Adkison says

    We go through this every single year. Our church is sadly lacking in doing the "follow-up" necessary after VBS. I am sure we are responsible for a lot of the "spiritual orphans" out there in the world' but what do you do when no one will listen???? They're always soooo excited about VBS, and oh, it's just going to be so great, and we're going to be able to reach families in the community, and VBS is our most important outreach of the whole year.....well, prove it! "Continue the Connection!"

  2. Nannette Rankin says

    I attended the VBS Institute in 2013 and again this year in Fort Worth. Dr. Shane Garrison spoke to us about reaching Spiritual Orphans both years. If there is a way you can show those videos to people in your church, I think it would help them to "Get it". I don't know if they are available or not. I know that Lifeway has an article on their website that bascially tells what he said in his message from 2013. Actually seeing him tell his testimony is so powerful though. The article is, LifeWay's VBS Is a Bridge for Spiritual Orphans. I know last year the VBS team at Lifeway had flashdrives for sale that had VBS things on it from VBSI and that was included on it. I don't know if it they have this years available for others to purchase or not. Prayerfully, if they can read or see this testimony, this year your people will prove how important continuing the connection is.
    Nannette Rankin

  3. Carol says

    Thanks for your comments. I agree seeing Dr. Shane Garrison's testimony is very powerful. The flash drives are available again this year and they actually have his message from last year (2013) and this year (2014) included on them. If anyone would like to purchase one you may contact Tiffany Francis at The cost is $25.

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