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4 Creative Ways to Run VBS for Kids This Summer


According to available data that indicates children and families are hungry for in-person connection, VBS may be your church’s ticket to coming back—an opportunity like none other! This summer, your church has a monumental opportunity to serve kids in your community in creative ways! The following practical tips will empower, inspire, and spark ideas for whatever your situation brings.

For starters, pray and set a date. There are many options available here to inspire you to make this the best-ever summer for kids and families craving connection in your community!

The How: Creative Ways to Run VBS

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

If you’re a Vacation Bible School director, that means you’re a go-getter, premier-planner, creative problem-solver. It’s true; we’ve seen firsthand the way VBS directors turn lemons into lemonade time and again. No one can adapt on the fly like a VBS director. Even with a global pandemic to contend with, you’ve got this! And kids who’ve been in lockdowns for the better part of a year are in dire need of hopeful, positive, healing social interaction with their peers and with YOU! That makes VBS uniquely important this year!

Let’s look at some ways you can make VBS happen.

Face-to-Face, In-Person VBS

Obviously, this is our favorite way to have VBS. The energy of Vacation Bible School week is unlike any other and the relationships between kids and leaders can last a lifetime. So, if you’re able to be face-to-face, here are some ideas on keeping it safe & healthy:

  • Meet outside
    • If you have a large outdoor space, set up E-Z UP tents as stations.
    • Some VBS programs have been designed for outdoor use—so this might be an easy option to modify.
  • Have at least two sets of supplies per station
    • If there are supplies that you’re using every rotation, keep a second set on hand so you can sanitize between groups.
  • Create multiple stations
    • Have multiple stations so fewer Crews are in a station at the same time.
  • Host multiple sessions
    • If you want to limit the number of people who are together at one time, create multi-session options. For example, a morning and afternoon session. It’s easy to do with event registration sites like VBS PRO, which come free with Group’s starter kit.

Neighborhood VBS

One of the coolest things we saw last summer was an increase in neighborhood VBS—often called “backyard Bible club.” While it requires more planning and coordination than holding VBS at your church, there are some amazing benefits to the neighborhood format:

  • Taking VBS into neighborhoods empowered churches to engage with people who might not have walked through their door.
  • Crew Leaders fostered stronger relationships with their kids because groups were small. We’ve heard stories of how Crews have continued to connect throughout the year.
  • Hosts found an easier time connecting with parents and getting to know them, since they were neighbors.
  • It’s outside, which is more COVID-friendly!

Check out these best practices for neighborhood VBS from children’s ministry leaders who successfully used this format last year!

Online VBS

Last year, VBS Directors around the country stepped in front of the camera and showed us that VBS can happen anywhere and everywhere, even onscreen! Read some of the unexpectedly cool outcomes these churches experienced:

“We had people participating for the first time ever, because they never would have been open to going into a church before. We have big-time kingdom work happening here!” -Ashley, VBS Director

“I had so many parents tell me that their kids were actually doing it twice a day, every day, and they were having so much fun with their families.” -Brandi, VBS Director

If you’re interested in making VBS online this year or adding an online component to your face-to-face VBS, here are some links to help make that happen:




Out-of-the-Box VBS

We heard from churches who turned their parking lot into VBS—having families stay by their car as activities and music happened on a stage. Think of a little like a drive-in movie…but for VBS!

Other churches took VBS to local parks, with plenty of room to spread out. Canopies, park shelters, or even shady areas under trees became stations. Kids brought beach towels to sit on, keeping appropriate distance. What a powerful example to a community that kids matter, and Jesus’ love can bring us together in surprising ways!

You CAN do it! And we’re here to help! Group offers a complete children’s ministry hub of resources you need…especially when it comes to VBS! Best of all, we’re always here to help. Call us with any ministry-related problem, and we’ll help you find a solution. Call our experienced and helpful support team at 1-800-447-1070. 

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