Thursday, July 23, 2009


It’s all in the numbers.

We had VBS this week and spent several hours each night at Crocodile Dock. It was great to see the church full of kids morning and night. A lot of people put a lot of work into making it an amazing time. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.

Whenever pastors talk about VBS we ask (and get asked) two questions: What curriculum did you use? How many kids did you have?

The answer to the first question is easy – and the subject for another day. The answer to the second question is a bit more complex than you might imagine. Churches always get hammered when we talk about numbers, as though a focus on numbers was somehow symptomatic of a neglect of people. Actually, if you think about it properly each number represents a real, living, breathing person that we had the honor and privilege of serving. Numbers are important because each number represents a person!

But as I think about VBS; I wonder which number is important.

250 – About how many kids we had at VBS last week. It represents 250 people that we had the opportunity to serve. We share with them and they share with us. We experienced Christ at work in them and hopefully they experienced Christ in us.

100 – About how many volunteers it took to pull VBS off. They were amazing too: youth, adults, craft people, game people, music leaders, registration people, tech team – and a whole lot more. Every time you turned a corner you ran into a volunteer in a purple shirt!

1,250 – Cans of non-perishable food we collected for the food bank/food pantry here in our area. It’s great that our VBS week can help support one of the ongoing ministries of our church that keeps us looking outward. It’s too easy to be a church that remains inside, looking at the world through our rose-colored stained glass windows.

1 – “If we only touch one kid; this will all be worth it.” I heard that sentiment a lot last week and they’re right. It’s not about volume (number of kids) it’s about significance – reaching one well.

But what if we don’t reach anyone? What if 100 volunteers work all week with 250 kids and we collect 1200 items of non-perishable food for the food pantry/soup kitchen and we don’t change the life of a single, solitary child? What then? Have we failed? Was it worth it?

A few days ago I asked some folks, “Why do we do it? For the kids? For us? For the fun? The energy it creates? The creativity it generates? The smiles it births? Why do we do it?” I got a lot of responses, none of which were necessarily wrong, but none were what I was really thinking about.

As followers of Jesus, why do we do what we do? For the results? Or out of obedience and faithfulness? I think we do VBS because someone once said, “Let the little children come to me and don’t stop them.” That’s it. It’s that simple. We do VBS (and a lot of things like it) because Jesus said to his followers, “This is what I want you to do.”

Results matter to God, but ultimately the results are God’s department. For us, the most significant number of VBS week may be = 0.

We do what only we can do so that God can do what only God can do.


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