Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 26, 1949

What About Vacation Bible Schools?

Byron Fullerton, Norman, Oklahoma

Annual vacation Bible schools are being conducted increasingly each year by congregations of the Lord's people. Many who have not previously tried one will be doing so this summer. It is not a difficult job; any average preacher, and nearly any good teacher, can successfully lead such a school.

What Are They?

Conducting such schools is an effort to take advantage of a situation that annually exists in each community when the public schools close for the summer vacation. Boys and girls and young people suddenly find themselves separated from their friends in school, and usually with nothing to do. Most of them are glad to have an opportunity to continue the associations of the school. A vacation Bible school is an effort to take advantage of this situation for teaching the word of the Lord. If the children in the local congregations are properly approached, they will invite their friends who do not attend church to attend the school. Many of these non-church-goers can be persuaded to come and enroll.

These schools are an effort to carry out the fundamental command of Jesus to teach all of all nations. Jesus told us no man can come to Him except he be taught. (John 6:44,45) He further said we are to continue to teach those who have been baptized. (Matt. 28:20) No teaching, no Christians; no continued teaching, no growth as Christians, is the rule stated by the Lord. Vacation Bible schools are simply an additional opportunity and effort to carry out this command. They are supplementary, rather than substitution, for teaching now being done.

The Results

What about the results? Do they justify the effort? Past experience indicates that those who attend faithfully will probably learn more of the Bible in a regular ten-day school than they learn in a whole year of ordinary Sunday morning Bible classes. The fact the lessons are had on a day-to-day basis, and that it is much easier to secure careful study from the pupils may explain this. The type of lesson used will determine somewhat the results to be expected. Offering a certificate of accomplishment seems to help encourage study by the pupils.

Another highly beneficial result from the school is that they offer an opportunity for securing new pupils for the regular Sunday Bible classes. This is especially true if the teacher, or minister, or perhaps an elder will follow up the new contacts after the school closes. Entire families have been brought to Christ in this way. The enrollment cards for the school should be kept on file. If a church bulletin is mailed out, it should be sent to each family represented in the vacation Bible school. This provides a fine list for advertising a gospel meeting, or other activity of the congregation. Taken as a whole, there is probably no activity in which the church may engage which will be more productive of more immediate visible good than the well conducted vacation school.

The Cost

In order for a school to accomplish the maximum good some preparation should be made beforehand. The congregation where the author labors regularly sets aside $125.00 in its annual budget for this effort. About $75.00 of this amount is paid for a city bus to gather up pupils and take them home. Such a plan will probably double the attendance in a place large enough to have city wide transportation. The remainder is spent on advertising, enrollment cards, lesson materials and incidentals. Ail lesson materials should be on hand well before the time for the school to open.

The Classes

On the Sunday before the school opens someone (teacher, preacher, or some other person) should visit each class and tell the pupils about the school. All should be urged to make a real effort to bring their friends and ask them to enroll. Announcements should be made for some weeks prior to the opening date in all the usual services of the church.

A class for adults is always in order. Usually they will enjoy it thoroughly. Many of them will be having such a class for the first time in their lives; most of them need teaching badly. One ad we saw stated, "All ages from four to eighty-four". This is quite a contrast to the denominational practices of limiting attendance "from six to sixteen." If the young people (college age) are not all employed, they should have a special class; the junior high age always provides good attendance. The largest group, however, will probably be the young children.

The word "school" should be taken literally. It should be a school in every sense of the word. There should be someone to act as head of the school; there must be a faculty. These may be drawn from the corps of regular Sunday morning teachers, but usually they will not be. Often these teachers find it impossible to be present on week days. There must be a regular time for opening and closing each day, just as in the public schools. There must be a curriculum. Discipline should be maintained. This will not be difficult. In fact pupils expect it and appreciate it. Pupils are expected to prepare their lessons in advance, exactly as they do in their usual school work.

It should be a Bible school. The Bible should be taught. Booklets with lessons may be used, or lesson sheets prepared for use in each class and for each pupil in each class. But all those far enough advanced should use the Bible in the preparation of their lessons. Activities such as drills, singing, and other work that may have, to do with the lesson should be a regular part of the program.

Many places, trying a vacation Bible for the first time, have been agreeably surprised at the attendance and interest. Rarely, if ever, is a church willing to discontinue such a school once it has had a successful one conducted. The results are too great and too valuable to permit a cessation of such work.


Back in the good old days the village congregation raised their preacher's salary from $1,000.00 a year to $1,200.00. But he objected, giving three reasons: (1) They couldn't afford it; (2) his preaching wasn't worth it; and (3) since he had to collect the salary himself, which was the hardest part of the job, if he tried to collect an additional $200.00 from the church, it would kill him!