Some Vacation Bible School (VBS) Cautions to Consider

Vacation Bible school has become a Summer tradition for many families. Churches usually have the goal of getting as many kids as possible to attend from the church and surrounding community. Some families even send their kids to VBS at multiple churches throughout the Summer. With VBS being so popular, there are some cautions churches should consider.

1- Be Cautious in How You Present Salvation.

It is easy for children to be manipulated into ‘making a decision.’ Years ago I heard VBS workers ask, “Who doesn’t want to go to Hell?” Many kids raise their hands (I would as well). They were then told that they needed to pray a prayer to keep from going to Hell. I have even seen prizes given to those who “get saved.” This kind of manipulation is simply a poor substitute for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, and does not lead to true salvation.

Understand that there is a difference in trusting in a prayer and trusting in Jesus for salvation. If more attention is given to the child repeating a prayer than to understanding what Christ did for them and what it really means, then there is a major problem.

2- Be Committed to Following Up with Those Who Make Professions of Faith.

The command of the Great Commission is to make disciples; not just converts. To simply lead people to make a decision for Christ, but then fail to follow-up with them either demonstrates a concern only for numbers or disorganization. Either way, it is the kids who are hurt. Develop a system to follow-up with those who make decisions during the week of VBS.

3- Don’t Try to Steal Families from Other Churches.

Let’s be reminded that the goal is to reach the unchurched. If people are involved in a Bible-believing church, we should encourage them to stay there. The goal is not to grow our kingdom (church) by adding more ‘already’ saved people. The goal is to see people give their lives to Christ. Keep the focus on evangelism and reaching the unchurched.

4- Don’t Neglect Worship.

Sometimes the focus in VBS programs is so much on entertainment that kids never understand that the church is to worship. They are passively taught that church equals entertainment. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t have fun. But I am saying that kids should be able to understand the importance of worshipping God in the context of the Church.

VBS is a great opportunity to reach unchurched kids (and families), teach them about God’s love, and demonstrate love to the community. Let’s be cautious to avoid the dangers that have a tendency to plague VBS programs.

4 Ways Churches Can Prepare for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is just a few days away, and while it may appear to be too late to start any new efforts for your Easter service, there are still some things you can do. Here are a few of them.

1- Utilize social media ads.

Social media is a great tool for today’s churches. Most social media outlets allow you to create ads and then target a very specific demographic. The cost is usually low and the exposure is great. Just be sure it is a professional looking ad. An ad that looks like it was thrown together will do more to hurt your efforts than help.

2- Encourage church members to follow-up with those they have already invited.

Hopefully those in your church have been inviting people to your Easter services. While attending your Easter service may be a priority for you and other members of your church, it probably isn’t for those who have been invited.

As Easter Sunday moves closer, there is a tendency for those who have been invited to start having second thoughts, make other plans, and back out of their commitment to attend. Following up with those who have been invited is necessary.

3- Develop a plan for visitor follow-up.

It is great to have visitors, but a great opportunity has been lost if follow-up doesn’t happen. Develop a plan to follow-up with visitors that utilizes members in the process. Perhaps various small groups or Sunday School classes can reach out to those who have visited. Maybe you need to develop a ministry team for this purpose.

The point is that visitor follow-up does not need to be rooted in the staff alone; get others involved.

4- Pray…Pray…Pray

This is by far the most important thing you can do. Planning and preparation is not a substitute for God working. No matter how great the sermon, pastors cannot change hearts. No matter how moving the music, it cannot make spiritually dead men alive. Only God can do these things.

Pray for God to prepare hearts leading up to Easter.

Pray for God to work in and through the service.

Pray for God to prepare you, the pastor.

Pray for lives to be changed.

Pray that God will do what only God can do.

Easter is a great opportunity to reach people. And while Easter Sunday is only a few days away, there are still things you can do to make a difference in people’s lives. Take advantage of these last few days, and as a result, you will see the fruit from it.

5 Reasons the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention is Bright

The church I pastor is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. While the SBC is not perfect, I am excited about its future. Here are five reasons why.

1- The Seminaries

Someone once said, “As go the educational institutions, so goes the movement.” While, I don’t know who made that statement, I believe it to be true. Educational institutions set the sails for movements and denominations. When one looks at the seminaries of the SBC, there is reason for great confidence. The flagship seminary of the SBC, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY is thriving. It, and other SBC seminaries, are producing doctrinally conservative, gospel-focused ministers and educators.

As I meet graduates of the SBC seminaries, I am continually impressed with the quality that is being produced.

2- The Focus on Missions

David Platt’s passion for the nations is well-known. Since taking control of the International Mission Board (IMB), it seems that his passion for world missions has been spreading throughout SBC churches. While difficult decisions had to be made in order to move the IMB toward greater fiscal responsibility, the goal of spreading the gospel to the unreached peoples is taking root.

The future of missions is bright within the SBC.

3- The ERLC

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission led by Dr. Russell Moore is doing a wonderful job helping churches navigate difficult social issues. God’s timing is perfect. Since his election to this position in 2013, our country has seen a barrage of social issues that are difficult to navigate. Moore’s voice within the ERLC has been a guiding influence for which the church should be thankful.

As more issues arise, I pray for the ERLC’s continued gospel-focused influence.

4- The Renewed Focus on Evangelism

If I took anything away from following this last year’s convention, it was the focus on evangelism and the need to pray for spiritual revival. This is obviously a focus of the SBC’s president, Steve Gaines, as it was for his predecessor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, Adrian Rodgers.

A renewed focus on evangelism, prayer for revival, and a sincere desire to see God change lives will do nothing but further the Gospel-witness of the SBC.

5- Unity

The biggest storyline from last year’s convention was the election of Steve Gaines as the new SBC president. Perhaps that is not the story as much as is how it happened. After two rounds of voting (choosing between Gaines and J. D. Greear) failed to produce a majority vote in favor of either candidate, Greear withdrew his candidacy for the sake of unity within the SBC.

Greear stated, “I’ve spent a good amount of time praying and I believe for the sake of our convention and our election we need to leave St. Louis united. … We are united by a Gospel too great, and a mission too urgent, to let a lesser message stand in our way. I am respectfully withdrawing my candidacy as president.”

More recently, there are has been some tension between the ERLC and some SBC churches. I am encouraged by fact that the leadership of the ERLC and the Executive Committee of the SBC appear committed to unity.

These demonstrations of unity will go a long way in preserving unity within the Convention that is needed to further gospel-ministry.

While there are probably other bright spots that could be highlighted, these are five areas I think are helping to propel the SBC forward.