Evangelism is a revival in action! Vacation Bible School evangelism is a double-barreled type of revival; first, because it brings the message of the gospel to those in the community, and second, because it stirs a new enthusiasm on the part of the church for the potentials of the Sabbath school and the work among the young.
In Southern California we launched into a Vacation Bible School workshop for three days in the early part of June. Those who were to have part in the Vacation Bible School program were invited to learn ways, means, methods, and manners in the conducting of a Vacation Bible School.
One week later the first two schools were in full swing. For two weeks the schedule was crafts, recreation, songs, prayers, Bible stories and illustrations, as well as personal visitation. This program culminated with a graduation exercise, in most cases on the last Thursday night. The parents of the children were invited, and invariably it was one of the largest crowds to come to the Seventh-day Adventist church or school for a midweek activity. There was no advertising expense and, in fact, the offering taken paid for practically all outlays of money.
One church was packed, children being placed even in the choir loft. The pastor of this church had taken a very active part, holding prayer and worker-staff meetings, and bringing about a dozen children in his car each day. He was thrilled and amazed, and said, "I don't know what we would have done if we had advertised. We couldn't have handled them all."
Another pastor of many years' experience told me, "Why didn't we think of this before? I've never seen anything like it. We enrolled four in our church school." This resulted from the pastor's enthusiastic interest. At one place there had been three other Vacation Bible Schools before ours, but the children said, "We like this one best." In fact, a former Presbyterian pastor sent his own children to our Seventh-day Adventist Vacation Bible School and placed a ten-dollar check in the offering on the night of the graduation. In practically every instance they "wished it were going to last another week."
One church member went around to the homes in her community and gathered forty-eight children and led them down the street to the Seventh-day Adventist Vacation Bible School. In another place the story teller was highly rewarded when one little lass took her hand and kissed it and said, "How we do love your Bible stories!" In a poll taken, the Bible stories were the part of the program most enjoyed by the group. What a thrill it was to hear children of the community say, "I've had the best time I've ever had, and I've learned a lot more about Jesus than I've ever learned before."
One teacher wrote, "I'm sure Vacation Bible Schools pay, and you would think so too if you could see a roomful of sixty boys and girls stand to express their desire to live in heaven with Him." These children, 75 to 90 per cent from non-Adventist homes, now have a beginning tie to the great remnant Sabbath school and an incentive to prepare for eternity, as well as for life here and now.
The Vacation Bible School is like a spearhead effort. We now have some fifteen hundred names of perSons who would welcome visits from our pastors, Bible instructors, and Sabbath school teachers because the children were at a Seventh-day Adventist Vacation Bible School. The immediate follow up is with a branch Sabbath school and story hour as well as Pathfinder enrollments. This program has brought us all closer together, synchronizing our evangelistic activities.
We launched a Vacation Bible School in a new section where we do not have a church. It was well attended. The few believers in that area are now continuing with a branch Sabbath school. At the close of the school, when the branch Sabbath school was announced, there was an urgent chorus of children's voices, "When? Where will it be? Can we come?" Thus Vacation Bible Schools are an ideal entering wedge.
Everyone everywhere is child conscious. It is good to see workers and members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church alert to this current interest, and capitalizing on it to win the souls of the boys and girls, and through them, the souls of their parents. "A little child shall lead them" is not amiss. We need only to heed this sage suggestion and work more earnestly in the Master's way.
Nothing will do more to electrify the Sabbath school and church than a strong program for the children in the Sabbath school, in the church, and in the community.
From experience we say, Vacation Bible School evangelism really pays and costs very little in dollars.