How Vacation Bible School Drove Millennials Away From Church

As an outreach strategy, Vacation Bible School is usually a flop, but still the chorus echoes across the country: ‘At least we planted the seed.’

It’s that time of year again, when congregations across the country implement a summertime cultural ritual. The happy T-shirts and foam-board crafts; the upbeat, canned music; the knock-off theme of last summer’s movie mega-hit—all of it comes together in that annual event known as Vacation Bible School, or VBS.

Seen as a critical tool for outreach, the eternal hope is that congregations will recruit little salespeople as kids go home celebrating all the fun things they did at that church up the street. Unchurched parents, meanwhile, with faint memories of grandma’s faithful church attendance, love the free child care. Rarely does a biblical image so singularly justify a church practice as the seed imagery does for VBS, because as an outreach strategy, VBS is usually a flop, but still the chorus echoes across the country, “At least we planted the seed.”

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