VBS doesn’t have to be so hard; use our 6 easy VBS tips to make your VBS even easier!
Hold on to your hats! Before you know it, vacation Bible school will be upon you. It seems that the more years have gone by, the bigger vacation Bible schools have grown. It’s one of the biggest happenings in a church year. No wonder organizing a VBS can seem like a huge, overwhelming task. Here are a few ways to make this year’s VBS go easily and smoothly.
1. Use the buddy system.
Any job is more fun to do with a friend, so find a co-director to share the load. Clearly specify who does what. Maybe one person is in charge of supplies and the other is in charge of staffing. Pray for each other daily. Get together for coffee to touch base. On each day of your VBS, one of you can be a “roamer” and the other one stationed in the “office.” Use walkie-talkies to stay in touch and troubleshoot any issues. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
2. Stay focused on your vision.
Is your vision neighborhood outreach? family outreach? growing your children’s ministry? Your vision sharpens your plans and affects all decisions, such as location, time, length, and activities. As you develop your program, a vision helps you stick to important elements and not add unessential bells and whistles. For example, if you choose to do an outdoor VBS to reach neighborhood children, you might choose to put less time into elaborate decorations. Set a vision and use it as a filter during planning. Keep your eyes on the goal. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Goals are good!
3. Choose a format.
If you haven’t yet chosen your format, allow your vision to direct your choice. What works best for your church? When and where will you hold your VBS? An evening format might make it easier to get volunteers. Or if you want lots of families to attend, a weekend or a retreat format might work best. Or if you have a small church and like to work with others, host a communitywide VBS, partnering with other churches.
4. Gather supplies early.
Order resources early so you have time to organize them. On a bulletin board and in your church bulletin, list additional supplies you’ll need and then set out a grocery cart to collect items church members donate. One church took digital pictures of the supplies they needed and hung the pictures on a bulletin board. That way, the church members knew exactly what to donate.
5. Recruit staff according to gifts.
Instead of having your volunteers do everything in a traditional classroom, consider rotating kids through specific stations such as games, crafts, snacks, Bible stories, and songs. A person who loves drama and storytelling could lead Bible stories, a person who loves to cook could organize snacks, and a person who’d rather work behind the scenes could help with decorations or baking or publicity. Staff members will dig into their roles when they’re allowed to use their gifts. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
6. Use a combined-age approach.
Studies show that children learn as much or more when linked with kids of different ages. In fact, one study observed that children naturally chose to play with other children their age only 6 percent of the time. They played with children at least one year older or younger 55 percent of the time. Multiage groups facilitate cooperation. Older kids help younger ones and the younger ones try to be like the older ones. Multiage cuts down on discipline and makes discussion times easier. And multiage cuts down on the variety of crafts you’ll need since you choose crafts that all ages can do.
7. Train your staff. It’s time well spent.
Share your vision. Set expectations early. For example, tell staff members when to arrive each day so you can begin with staff prayer. Give tips on leading discussions, list expectations for following leaders guides or directions, and tell how long you’d like them to stay, how to help with clean up, and how to work together with follow-up after your VBS. Jesus trained his disciples before he sent them out (Luke 10:1-24). Oftentimes we rush through training as one more thing to check off, but training prepares your staff to have a huge impact on children for Jesus. When staff members are trained, the actual program will run more smoothly.
Preregistration helps you plan, staff, budget, and publicize. Plus it makes the first day easier. If your program fills early, you won’t need to continue publicity. If you have more children sign up than expected, recruit more staff, offer a second VBS, or combine forces with another church. And if you have too few sign up by a certain date, increase your publicity. With preregistration, you’ll know what to expect and how to plan accordingly.
9. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
Just let go. You don’t have to have a hand in everything. If you’ve worked with a buddy, chosen staff according to their gifts and strengths, and trained them well, you’ll be able to work as a team in a relaxed way. Check in with people occasionally, but trust that they’re all working together with you on your VBS adventure. Remember Moses’ father-in-law’s great advice to him about delegation? (Read Exodus 18.)
10. Network with other churches.
Communicate with other churches in your area. Maybe you can share decorations, staff, and facilities. Some churches that have their VBS in August get all their decorations (and other supplies) from other churches in their areas that have done a similar theme earlier.
Remember, your VBS doesn’t have to come off without a hitch to be effective. God’s in control. God’s purpose will prevail through your plans (Proverbs 19:21). All you do, you do for him. God can do amazing things through your most humble efforts. Have fun using VBS to reach children for Jesus!
Jody Brolsma is senior editor and Cindy Hansen was previously an editor for Group Publishing’s VBS.