1) Only 2% of the youngest generation have a personal relationship with Christ.
- There are basically 5 living generations that sociologists have recognized in the USA. The first, that we often call the seniors, are the WWII Generation. Tom Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation”. They fought and won WWII, and then as architects, engineers and builders, put the world back together again. They produced the greatest single jump in middle class prosperity that the world has ever known and are dying at a rate of 5,000 a day. This generation is marked as having been born before 1946. When we surveyed them, 66% confessed that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- The generation that follows them are the Baby Boomers (1946-1964). The boomers were named so because when all the GI’s came home from the war and married their sweethearts, there was a baby-boom. By sheer numbers, this generation became one of the most influential generations in the history of the world. In 1982 the survey revealed that 34% of them professes Christ. By the early 2000s when the first boomers were drawing social security, the number had risen to 52%. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
- However, since the boomers did not profess Christ in the years that they had children at home, the Gen Xer’s, the next generation (1965 -1979) have not returned to Christ and their percentages have stayed the same—10% have a personal relationship with Christ.
- The Millennials are those born from 1980-1999. This group has grown up in a largely secularized America and for the first time as a majority hold distinctly different values from the Judeo-Christian values of their parents and grandparents. This generation professes Jesus at about 6%. Gen Xer’s and Millennials cannot return to a Christ that they never knew as the Boomers did.
- That brings us the newest generation (2000 – present) that has not yet been named. One name floating around is the texters. This generation has never known life without electronic connection. Many of them are still too young to receive Christ but the oldest are 17. The speculation is that about 2% of this generation will profess Christ as Lord.
- These are the children that we are reaching at VBS. This is the generation that must change to move our nation back to God. This is the pivotal generation—after this, Christianity in America will simply be a bygone vestige of another generation. I know that I have used more stats than I usually do, but indulge me one last time. 75% of everyone who ever comes to Christ does so before the age of 14. So while we can and should try and evangelize the older generations, the single most important generation to reach is this latest one and VBS is a way to do that.
2) VBS as a singular program produces more baptisms than any other program of churches in the US. In fact, VBS produces more baptisms than all other programs combined in Southern Baptist Life. Southern Baptists are still the leaders in baptisms among evangelical denominations in the US. So if you were simply going to try and reach the most people for Christ and you did a massive evaluation, your conclusion would be “each church should have VBS!”
3) VBS is the most cost efficient method of reaching people for Christ. This may sound crass or business-like, but the fact remains. If a church figures out how much they spend on a program and how many people come to Christ because of it, they can do a cost analysis. So for instance if a church spends $1000 on VBS and 10 children come to the Lord the cost ratio is $100-1. If churches did this with all their programs, many may choose to fire the pastor and hire the VBS director full-time. It would be a better use of their money.
Sadly, many churches don’t even have VBS and the ones that do, the pastor doesn’t even show for it. What a mistake! Be a good steward of God’s money and get the biggest spiritual bang for your buck. Invest in VBS.
4) VBS is often the one event that a church has that brings in the most “outsiders” into the church. At Emmanuel we really work at having as many events as possible where you can feel confident in bringing your lost friends. But VBS is the one event where the lost call us and ask to come! VBS is still culturally accepted—even among unbelievers. Some may just be looking for summer childcare, but either way, we get their children and them inside our building and a chance to proclaim Christ. Many families who are committed Christ-followers and are highly involved at Emmanuel were first exposed to Christ at VBS. In a society that does not want church, but likes VBS, we should take advantage of the bait that the fish are biting on.
So come and help at VBS. Bring your kids and grandkids to VBS. Support VBS. Don’t think of it as something we do for the kids in the summer. Think of it for what it is—the single most important event we do at Emmanuel all year long!
The VBS promo video and registration can be found here: 2016 VBS