Vacation Bible School time is upon us. I went every summer as a kid, not only to our VBS, but to my best friends and even sometimes to my grandparents’ church. It always amazes me at how I can immediately recite the pledges we use to say in opening assembly. I remember sitting with my friends drinking Kool-Aid out of the tiniest cups and the little butter cookies you could put on your finger and eat.
The past two summers, I have traveled around the state of Virginia visiting some of our Baptist churches during their Vacation Bible Schools. Here are some of the ideas I have collected along the way that may be helpful in your planning:
* Share resources with other churches. While there are some copyright issues you want to investigate, I saw a lot of churches sharing their resources with one another, especially when it comes to decorations. One childrens’ minister said it was also helpful to spend a day visiting another church doing the same theme to see it in action. Churches shared volunteer resources as they helped each other put up and remove the decorations. Some areas have even gone to doing an area wide Vacation Bible School with other churches in the same area.
* Special Sixth Grade Class. For one church that does not include sixth graders into the youth ministry, VBS provides an opportunity to give them a view of things to come. They attend XBS (Extreme Bible School) which includes special activities and access to the youth room facilities during free time.
* Pastors Getting Involved. I saw pastors doing everything from dressing up in costume and taking on a Biblical character to doing crazy dance moves. It means so much to children and their families for the pastor to be so accessible and involved. It gives kids a great connection to the pastor as we want the kids and their families to continue in the future of the church. It is also great for connection with youth and young adults as the pastor serves along-side of them.
* Keep Connecting to Families. One church I visited states that there goal for VBS is to connect families in the community. They planned a family oriented event to be held in the weeks after VBS. As the children were leaving the week of VBS behind, the event gave the ministers a reason to contact and follow up with the parents and gave the families another opportunity to connect with the church.
*Be Organized. As a visitor, I was so impressed with churches that had walky talkies to communicate with other leaders, charts to show where each group was at all times and maps of the church. This was helpful for me as a visitor and I think would be comforting for any parent who is visiting your church. We forget sometimes that today, even in our smaller towns where we feel like we know everybody, it is a huge deal for people to trust us with their children! We need to do everything we can to show them up front that we take their child’s safety very seriously. Along these lines, think clearly about your check in and check out process. What are you doing to ensure that the right child goes home with the right parent/guardian?
* Utilize volunteer leaders from outside your church. This may not be a fit for your church but a few churches I’ve visited allow for non-church members volunteers from the community to help. I talked with one mother of three who were members of a small church in a nearby town. They loved their little church but she appreciated being able to volunteer in leadership and have her kids participate in a VBS to get a “big church” experience like she had as a kid. She said they while didn’t want to leave their small church, she sometimes she just really missed these kind of things from a big church.
What great ideas do you have for Vacation Bible School?