Making the Most of Your VBS
Yes, ’tis the season for VBS! For many churches, Vacation Bible School is a rich, annual opportunity to spend time together as a church family as well as an exciting vehicle for reaching out into your community. LOTS of families in your neighborhood welcome the local VBS and view it very favorably. Whether this is your first attempt at VBS, or you’re a Vacation Bible School veteran, here are a few basic and time-proven tips to help your VBS have an even greater impact this summer.
Create Excitement with Door Knocking
Most churches use VBS as an opportunity to reach out into the community and make new contacts with families that are not currently involved. To make the biggest impact on your community, dedicate time (ideally a few days before VBS kickoff) to make tracks in the community, knock on doors, pass out flyers, make face to face contact, and invite folks to your event. Knocking on doors is also a great way to increase excitement in your church, especially if your door knocking event is coupled with a complimentary lunch or dinner for participants. Granted, door knocking will make many people nervous, but most families with small children are EXCITED that a church near them is doing a VBS and will be glad to know about your plans.
In recent years, VBS programs are focusing increasingly on smaller kids and leaving out the teens. If your Vacation Bible School curriculum does not specifically include study resources for teens, work with teen leaders to create a teen program to coincide with VBS. Many older children are saddened by aging out of their church VBS program. Any time kids of any age are showing enthusiasm for coming to God’s house, it should not be ignored. Keep teens excited about VBS programs by keeping them included. Offering a VBS that runs from preschool through 12th grade is a great way to make your program stand out in the community and bring in a crowd.
If you don’t wish to provide VBS classes for teens, then seek to enlist them in helping with the younger kids. Many kids in 7th grade or above are mature enough to serve alongside adults when it comes to preschoolers and and younger grade schoolers. They can serve in any number of ways that genuinely contribute to the event.
Invest in Prizes
Sometimes more focus is placed on decorations rather than prizes. But, as a rule, kids almost always care more about prizes than decorations. If you have a tight VBS budget, then consider cutting back on decorations in favor of great door prizes. Use prizes to encourage student participation in things such as Bible memorization, inviting visitors, and completing at-home activities. Even little things as simple as book markers can create excitement among the kids.
Don’t Forget Follow Up
Remember that the last day of VBS should not be the last day of your outreach. The children and teens you have reached during your days of VBS need to know exactly what activities, classes and events your church has coming up for their age group. A good way to share this information is to include an information page or card in everyone’s take home prizes and information.
Following up with a special invitation the next week in the mail for ongoing activities is a good way to remind kids about your church and keep their enthusiasm high. It also demonstrates to parents and caregivers that you are interested in the child even after VBS.
Vacation Bible School requires LOTS of preparation and enormous energy, but its benefits for a local church and the children and their families can be eternally significant. Give attention to the details, but be sure that when it’s all said and done, you have given good attention to the PEOPLE (kids, families, and workers) of VBS as well!
You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.