Summer is just around the corner! If you live in Florida, you’re probably thinking it’s already here with these temperatures. Summer for churches means one major thing – Vacation Bible School.
Is your church planning its own VBS rather than using ones from Lifeway or other resources? Here are a few things to keep in mind to make it a great summer:
Themes and Curriculum
Who doesn’t love a good theme? While it’s tempting to try to squeeze in the entire New Testament in a 5 day VBS, it’s overwhelming for kids. It can also make it harder to remember the lessons taught each day. A good VBS theme (i.e. spy themed to “unlock the mysteries of Jesus or underwater themed to unpack the journey of Noah) will make the week far more memorable than a non-themed one.
Plus, once you get a theme in place, you’re able to structure games, songs and crafts that all tie into the story for the week!
And these themes can stick with them for decades to come! Case in point: the writer of this blog definitely remembers the Kingdom Capers theme from her VBS circa 2002…
Like a bunch of other programs in the church, VBS needs passionate volunteers to bring it to life. From leading on the stage to spending 1-on-1 time with the kids, volunteers are the ones dedicated to guiding these kids through scripture.
When finding superstar volunteers, consider:
- How well they’ll know and understand the theme
- A potential volunteer’s strengths and weaknesses. Are they high energy? Put them leading the games! Are they great at explaining scripture? Consider making them a teacher!
- Ratio of students to teachers. Making groups smaller frees kids up to feel more comfortable asking questions about the material and gives volunteers the opportunity to minister to them.
Hands-on activities bring the lessons kids are learning in class to life. Activities should be engaging and interactive, designed to be easily debriefed in a simple manner. Again, simplicity is KEY here.
Don’t sell yourself short on activity types, either! Activities can include crafts, games, songs, and other opportunities that allow children to explore and engage with the material in their own way. Also, have volunteers ask kids (especially the older elementary students) what they got from an activity before explaining the meaning to them. We love an opportunity for critical thinking!
Safe and Secure Environment
We hate that we have to say this in 2023, but the world isn’t a safe space. Make sure you’ve got more intense drop-off and pick-up procedures for the kids. This is especially important for VBS being used by many churches as community outreach!
Also, please please please please background check every single volunteer. Even if the volunteer has been around the church for decades and is just now deciding to help out, still do the work to ensure each child is safe.
Have your emergency plan in place and get together with leadership to determine what to anticipate. Make sure the volunteers are equipped with what to do in the event of emergencies, especially for the volunteers who will most frequently be with the students.
VBS can be a powerful tool for bringing together members of the community and building relationships! The fun energy and good vibes are often what hook some kids into stepping foot in a church for the first time.
Encouraging parents and other community members to participate can help to create a supportive and inclusive environment for the children who attend. This can include involving parents in the planning process, hosting a family night during the week of VBS, or inviting community members to volunteer as instructors or assistants!
Running a successful VBS in this day and age has become something of an art form. If you’re working on your own VBS, tell us about it! We’d love to hear from you! And if you need some great shirts or fun prizes for activities, we can help out there too! Fill out the inquiry form and let’s chat about how we can help.