By Gail Marsh
You may be surprised to know that just three little letters, V.B.S., are enough to spark fear and trembling in the hearts of many churchworkers and volunteers. Vacation Bible school is not for the fainthearted! Months before the week-long event, people plan and prepare. It goes a little something like this . . .
First, a theme must be chosen. This involves more than a trip to the local bookstore or a brief glance through online VBS videos and that stack of Christian catalogs. After all, you want kids to learn about more than the eating habits of hyenas. VBS is supposed to be about Jesus!
After exhaustive theme research, it’s time to choose the dates for VBS. These days can’t conflict with church calendar events. Remember the year that VBS landed on the week before the annual rummage sale? What a mess! The kids were nearly crammed out by furniture and appliance donations. And, of course, that was the only week of the entire summer that rain fell. And fell. And continued to fall.
But I digress . . . Let’s see, after the date has been decided, it’s time to gather your troops, the infamous VBS committee. These brave men and women are charged with the task of onboarding volunteers. Strategies are discussed. The book How to Convince Anyone to Do Anything is memorized, and recruitment commences!
When an adequate number of volunteers have been pressured into serving—or, um . . . asked to join this endeavor joyfully, plans really swing into high gear! After all, you have only six weeks to secure donations of empty coffee cans (Do they still make these?), cotton balls, paper plates (small size), empty egg cartons, and glue sticks! And during that time, you’ll need to get advertisements posted on social media, in school bulletins, and in the local newspaper. You’ll need to find appropriately themed name tags, banners, and decorations; all while overseeing construction to transform the front of the church into a jungle, an arctic mountain, or some other impossible setting for group worship time.
Sound familiar? Maybe this is the year to rethink your vacation Bible school. You’re used to scheduling VBS for the hottest week of the summer, when all of your “good volunteers” go on vacation, so maybe this is the year to, dare I say, make a change? It’s okay. Change can be good—even great! Let’s look at a couple of new ways to do vacation Bible school, along with ways CTA can help.
- One church in Texas took a critical look at their VBS enrollment. They discovered that while most of their own kids attended, not many of the neighborhood children came to their VBS. Considering the VBS budget, this church decided to change up their vacation Bible school routine. Now, instead of one week during the summer, VBS has been transformed into a weekly after-school club. Meeting at a local public school, they are able to reach more kids than ever before! This VBS club runs throughout the entire school year!
- Another church recently put their VBS budget toward a Saturday school which also stretches over the school year’s schedule. Kids love having something to do on the weekend, and what parent doesn’t like a kid-free grocery-shopping experience? It’s not just babysitting! Kids learn Bible stories, construct crafts, learn songs, and enjoy everything else that a traditional VBS offers!
- Before revamping your vacation Bible school, work with other leaders in the church to set some VBS goals. If your goal is to reach the unsaved people in your community, how might you best accomplish that? Maybe offer a free barbeque, Bible time, and Wiffle-ball game every Wednesday evening during the summer. Build community as you eat, study, and play together. Or, gather at a local park for evening Family Fun Fridays, where your church can host crafts and games for kids and adults, all designed to reinforce the night’s Bible theme.
- Join with other churches in your area to fund an ongoing VBS that takes the church van into underserved areas each week during the summer months. Set up impromptu vacation Bible school locations and provide crafts, games, and Bible classes in areas that desperately need God’s Word.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But our VBS is great! We’re reaching so many families in our community, and we hardly have space for all of the kids who attend!” To you, we say, “Congratulations!” Why fix it if it isn’t broken, right? Keep on doing what you’re doing, with our blessing! However, if your vacation Bible school needs some tweaking, don’t be afraid to go for it!
No matter how you configure VBS, CTA is here to help! Check out our many Gospel-centered, child-friendly resources. Each one of our products can support your vacation Bible school program—no matter how you structure it!
Dive into God’s Word is a brand-new theme from CTA and it’s sure expand the impact of your VBS plan—old or new! The theme includes materials for several well-known Bible studies. There’s everything from Adam and Eve to Moses and the Ten Commandments to Jesus calling his disciples—and more! Plan to present one of the Bible stories each time you gather with your VBS kids. Use the Dive into God’s Word backpacks to help organize the kids’ Bibles, pencils, and activity books that they’ll use each time you meet. Kids can run off some energy playing with the flying disc during break time. Plus, CTA offers ready-to-go crafts for this theme. And you can find even more activities for Dive into God’s Word in CTA’s Resource & Idea Center!
Not sure how to get going or where to start? Download CTA’s Dive into God’s Word event planner. This planner contains ideas for games, crafts, activities, and Bible time. You may want to use this event to kick off your ongoing summer kids’ program or to wrap up your traditional VBS program. No matter how you use it, the students are sure to enjoy learning about Jesus, their Savior!
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