ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR AN AWESOME VBS
TO THE DIRECTOR
Isn’t being a Vacation Bible School Director a fulfilling ministry opportunity? The responsibility is tiring, at times frustrating, and often difficult. But you play a key role in directing your church’s largest outreach program for children and their families.
What a terrific way to impact the boys and girls of your church, their friends, and your community. In one week, every child receives the time equivalent of an entire quarter of Sunday School instruction.
As you press through the challenges, you’ll sense God depositing something priceless and eternal within you. When the exhaustion passes, you’ll realize your life has been changed forever. And won’t it be fun when we all get to heaven and attend the great VBS Directors’ Reunion in the sky!
The task before you is an awesome one, with a variety of components needing to mesh together for a great VBS experience. There are so many people with whom you will need to work in accomplishing this task, and to whom you must convey your passion for this event and its life-changing possibilities.
As VBS Director, your agenda will be filled with exciting challenges and necessary deadlines. But leave yourself open to the wonderful blessings that will occur in the lives of everyone touched by this ministry, including you!
If you are a new VBS Director, this manual is your guidebook. If you are a veteran, you will find exciting ideas to enhance your efforts. May you, your staff, your church, and the children and families impacted be blessed by this endeavor.
“Should we have a VBS this summer?” Vacation Bible School is often viewed through the distorting lens of problems, hassles and disorganization. VBS should be the core of every church’s summer ministry to children.
To obtain a clear focus, it helps to take a panoramic view of the values:
1. Concentrated Bible study for pupils and a unique evangelistic tool. More children make a decision for Christ during VBS than at any other time during the church year.
2. Opportunity to strengthen the spiritual life of teachers as they present God’s Word and to increase their concern for children’s needs.
3. A passport into unchurched homes.
4. Increased Sunday School and church attendance.
5. A demonstration to your community that your church chooses to care by providing a ministry designed for their children.
DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE
If a genuine “WOW! I’M SO EXCITED” doesn’t well up within your spirit as you think about directing VBS this year, you may need to prayerfully define, or re-define, your purpose for having Vacation Bible School. Perhaps the overwhelming responsibility of planning has blotted out your vision of sharing with boys and girls a living, loving Jesus.
God knows the best way to get things done at your church. God knows the most effective method for reaching children within the sphere of your church's efforts. Ask Him! Pray until you receive a God-given, clear vision of how to reach the boys and girls in your community.
Then always make a connection between your prayers and what you hear people saying. For instance, maybe you’ll start hearing: “We sure have lots of kids in our neighborhood. Sure wish there was some way to reach them.” Perhaps this year, instead of a traditional VBS, you feel God leading your church to sponsor one or more backyard Vacation Bible Schools. Your major purpose would then be community outreach and evangelism.
Or maybe after praying, you’ll realize your biggest headache each year are the crafts which means getting the needed personnel to help and rounding up the supplies. By eliminating crafts, this time slot can be used for playing Bible games to reinforce concepts, showing biblical DVD’s, and presenting special features.
To stay focused on your purpose, write down what God tells you through prayer and use it as a standard of measurement. An example might be, “To bring as many children to salvation in Jesus Christ as possible.” Karen Brinkman set four basic VBS goals at her church: (1) education--the children will learn about God, (2) witness--the children will take home crafts and newsletters to share with family members, (3) community--program will include children from outside the church, and (4) recreation--the children will have fun.
The “We’ve Always Done It This Way” syndrome can quench what God wants to accomplish at your church this year. Complacency stands as an enemy to change. Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to be flexible? Are you willing to try something only God can do? Are you willing to accept His purpose for your VBS? Are you willing to do everything possible to make this event life-changing?
Once you have a clear vision, then share it passionately with your volunteers. Repeatedly communicate the vision with clarity and purpose, until your staff becomes of one mind and heart together and rises to the challenge ahead.
CHOOSE WHAT KIND OF VBS YOU'RE GOING TO HOLD
This equation stands for "2 days a week, 4 hours a day, for 4 weeks." First Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, offers this VBS option for grades 1-6.
A Traditional VBS
“Traditional” used to mean a two-week school held during the day. Now “traditional” usually means a 5-day VBS either in the morning or at night.
Advent Adventures (Submitted by Lynne L. Iversen)
Instead of a traditional Vacation Bible School during summer months, our church created a Bible School during the advent season. "Advent Adventures" for children aged two years through sixth grade, was offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the first three Saturdays of Advent.
The leaders divided each session into 20-minute segments that included crafts, a Bible story, singing of Christmas carols, story time, snacks, recreation, and hand bell instruction. Each age group rotated through the various activities. At the end of the morning, the children met in the dining hall for lunch. In addition to providing the kids with worthwhile instruction, the school allowed the parents some "kid-free" Christmas shopping time!
A.K.A. Vacation Bible School
Backyard Bible Blast
An effort to get outside the church walls and reach children of the community and neighborhoods. Families in the church
are invited to host a Backyard Bible Blast which is an hour of exciting activities focusing on God's love. The purpose is to create memorable events that plant seeds which can easily be watered in the future.
Camp focused on Music And Drama which takes the place of a traditional VBS.
Church Camp for Kids
The purpose is to attract community boys and girls to the church for a week so they can learn Bible lessons plus receive special training, but it isn't called VBS. Rather, it's announced, advertised, and presented as "camp." The program offers everything from soccer and basketball to science and drama, plus lessons from the Bible which are adapted from VBS programs offered by Christian publishers.
In most cases, the differences between a VBS and a Kids’ Crusade are much like the differences between Sunday School and children’s church. Typically, a VBS program involves multiple VBS workers teaching individual age groups, with a complete offering of activities. The typical Kids’ Crusade utilizes less hands-on workers. Names of evangelists who hold children’s crusades can be found at childrensministry.net and childrensministry.org.
Kids' Reachout Roundup (KRR)
An action-packed week of Bible teaching, singing, activities, and crafts.
Summer day camp program which replaces the traditional VBS.
An incredible week in the summer designed especially for children, Kindergarten to 6th grade, to experience the truth of God's Word through Bible stories, dramatic adventures, crafts, games, snacks, and more.
This unique, innovative concept offers hands-on learning experiences in addition to family-building time, faith-sharing,
storytelling, drama, music, and outdoor games. For more information, visit: marketplace29ad.com.
This program runs for 2 hours with a 15-minute combined opening and a 15-minute closing. Children are divided into groups by age and rotate to 3 modules:
(l) Bible Adventure - Bible story/study and life application; (2) Singing and Memory Fun - teach songs and verses; and (3) Special Features - beach ball, volleyball, relays, films, videos, crazy contests, hat day, etc. Preschool children follow traditional VBS scheduling.
Schedule one month for preschool and kindergarten children; another for primary and middlers; and the final time slot for junior and teens. This alternative plan works great for churches short on space and staff.
Select a children's musical with a good message and spend at least two intensive weeks learning it, preparing for presentation. Present the musical on a Friday night or Sunday morning, inviting parents and friends. During practice sessions, you may want to include a brief devotional, activities, crafts, or games.
Neighborhood Bible Club
A Neighborhood Bible Club is similar to VBS but instead of meeting in a church building, it takes the Gospel to where the children live, right into their neighborhood. This 5-day summer ministry meets Monday through Friday for 1 hour, 15 minutes. A clear Gospel message is presented at each meeting, along with a Bible lesson, upbeat musical memory verses with hand motions, a review game, and a hands-on craft activity that the children take home daily.
There are four primary goals for the clubs:
Salvation: The children will hear a clear Gospel message and be encouraged to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Growth: The children will seek to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, and might.
Witness: The children will share their faith in Christ through personal witnessing and by bringing their friends to Bible club where they, too, can hear the Gospel message.
Family Involvement: The families of children attending will become involved in a local church where the Bible is believed and taught.
Praise and Play
VBS for preschoolers with a program including Bible stories, crafts, music, outdoor play, observing nature in God's great world, and guided indoor play.
Site Rotation VBS
Students rotate to teaching teams, who present the same Bible story to five different groups in five separate sessions. Activities vary by age group. Adult or youth guides accompany students to each team’s area. If you have large numbers of children, you may need multiple teaching teams for each lesson. Preschoolers have separate classes. Specialty teachers may lead select activities.
Key benefits to this option include: learning activities which are age-appropriate; teachers learn and prepare less content since they focus on one story, instead of five; fewer teachers may be needed; students meet and work with many different adults and youth; specialty teachers can lessen the workload. Many VBS curriculums now provide needed resources for implementing site rotation.
Special Guest VBS
Hire a ventriloquist, Christian clown, puppet team, or other children's ministries specialist to be your special guest. You might invite a children’s pastor or weekday religious education teacher from a neighboring area. Conduct an internet search on google or alternate search engines to locate entertainers and speakers, such as: Adams Family Ministries, Alan Root, Chip Richter, Dave Winchell, Doug Larson, Gary and Alisa Linn, Gene Cordova, Hamilton Family Ministries, Jamie Doyle, Jubilee Gang, Mark Thompson, Mr. Bill, Scott Humstom (Pro Kids Show), Ronnie Caldwell, Steven James, Susie Keown, Ted Jordan Family Ministry.
Another name for VBS.
Summer Fun Week
The week is packed with games, crafts, music, and creative learning opportunities. Each day, children learn a different truth about God, Jesus, and the Bible.
Summer Kinder Camp
VBS alternative for preschoolers.
Summer Sunday School
VBS curriculum is used both during the regular Sunday School hour and children’s church time for 5 weeks in the summer.
SUMMER VBF (Vacation Bible Fun)
Youngstown Baptist Church conducts a VBF each summer, built around a central theme and that includes skits, great kids’ music, fun games, crafts, and a grand finale on Sunday with a Family Fun Fair.
Plan a series of five field trips to places of interest in your area. Take along a special guest for each day to present the devotional. Work on Bible memory verses as you travel to the places of interest, and have your music time in transit, too. Concentrate on kids bringing friends and making new contacts for your church.
Sunday Morning VBS (Submitted by Teresa Higgins)
Because many members of our congregation are employed on weekdays, they are not available to teach a traditional Monday through Friday VBS. So our church conducts VBS every Sunday in July from 9 a.m. to noon. Student attendance
has increased and teachers are easier to recruit. In addition, several non-parent church members volunteered to assist because the Sunday timing suited them.
Super Summer Saturdays
All age groups meet on Saturday for a 5-10 week period, using VBS curriculum.
Super Summer Spectacular
Conduct VBS for five weeks during the summer on Sundays, combining Sunday School and morning worship. Encourage church members to bring neighborhood children. Besides the regular program, add videos or special speakers. Option: Give your regular Sunday School teachers a break by recruiting a "Super Summer Spectacular" staff.
Vacation Bible Experience
A traditional VBS, but the negative word "school" has been eliminated.
Vacation Bible Fun
Removing the negative context of "school" from the traditional VBS.
VBS Day Camp
Day camping involves a planned program of experiences for children in an out-of-doors setting during the day. It can be conducted at the church, making use of the parking lot and other available nearby space; at a local park; at a nearby state park or resort area; or anywhere that camp-like activities can be conducted.
The director has overall responsibility for the camp. Duties include: (1) stating the basic objectives of the camp; (2) deciding upon the location of a campsite and becoming familiar with this area; (3) outlining a suggested schedule of activities; (4) reading the curriculum materials which are to be used; (5) organizing the publicity; and (6) correlating the day-camp activities with the total Christian education program of the local church.
VBS Day Camp is an open-ended program, offering many of the opportunities of resident camping (nature study, recreation, crafts, outdoor education, and fellowship) without the extended absence from home.
Program activities include:
Bible Adventure Time: Usually the regular VBS curriculum materials are used. The counselors are responsible for telling the Bible story each day, making maximum use of visual aids. They help the campers learn the suggested Bible memory verses and carry through on other activities as suggested in the teacher's manual. Classes are informal and are held outdoors to make it more like "camp."
Worship: The program should include both planned times of worship and spontaneous worship. (The outdoor setting will prompt the latter.) Counselors who are alert will find many opportunities when campers can be led into a genuine experience of recognizing the presence of God.
Singing: Appropriate songs help lead into a worship experience. Singing also helps to bind the campers into a whole unit.
Games and Recreation: These should be well-planned, have a definite purpose, and be supervised carefully.
Crafts: Materials found in an outdoor environment should compose the basis for the craft activities. Possible projects are making a nature collage, a terrarium, spatter leaf-prints, nature boxes, and seed pictures.
Outdoor Fun: Various activities centering around the study of nature/God’s creation give the campers opportunities to use their God-given senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, touching, and smelling. Examples are: following nature trails, flying kites, studying the growth of trees, taking discovery hikes, bird watching, plant observation, and so on.
Field Trips: Opportunities in a local area might include trips to a museum, art gallery, planetarium, newspaper office, zoo, or manufacturing plant.
Special Feature Time: The creativity of the director and counselors may be given full use here. Some ideas which have been used successfully are: Hat Day (everyone wears a hat, and the hats are judged in such categories as funniest, most original, ugliest, prettiest, and campers' choice); Peanut Hunt (some peanuts are marked with numbers; when time is up - teams count the number of peanuts found and get a bonus for the specially numbered ones); Treasure Chest Day (everyone receives a free gift); videos; and lunch hike.
Lunch: Each camper brings a sack lunch. Drinks are provided.
Group vs. Activity Organization - Most day camps are organized for programming either according to age-grade groups or according to activities.
Group Organization - Major part of program handled by regular counselors:
1. Since the counselors are constantly with the same children, they become well-acquainted with the individual challenges and habits of each camper.
2. Tends to develop well-rounded counselors.
3. Group sizes can vary.
4. Allows a camp to handle a much larger enrollment of children.
5. Easier to set up and administer. Movement to and from each area,
Organization by Activities - Children move from place to place and counselors remain at a specific area as specialists:
1. Counselors work in activities for which they are particularly well-qualified and which they enjoy.
2. The children are exposed to many talented teachers, rather than just the one who heads their group.
3. Limits enrollment, as no group can be any larger than can be comfortably accommodated in the smallest specialty area.
Combinations and variations of these two types of programs are often most practical!
VBS Summer Day Camp
Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church offers children an exciting summer full of fun, and nurtures spiritual growth in a loving, Christian environment. They balance arts, crafts, recreation, and sightseeing with nature, reading, relaxing, and devotions each week to ensure variety. VBS Summer Camp is open to children ages 4-13 who are entering grades pre-K through 8th. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Extended care hours are available at no additional charge. Children may come as early as 7 a.m. and stay as late as 6:15 pm. Campers are placed in appropriately-sized groups according to age.
The Pre-K / Kindergarten group consists of 4 & 5 year-olds who learn to sing, play, and grow together through the summer as they participate in art, recreation, rest time, story time, play time, and an occasional field trip. While VBS Summer Day Camp workers provide plenty of activity for these campers themselves, they also bring puppet shows, storytellers, bubble fun, and a whole lot of laughing to them. Their daily routine is one of comfortable structure and is sensitive to the needs of these younger children.
The Elementary ages (grades 1-5) are always on the go. Each age group participates in arts & crafts, recreation, and devotions on a daily basis, and goes swimming and on one or two field trips each week in conjunction with weekly themes. Each grade's schedule, trips, and curriculum are unique and tailored to the needs of that particular age group. These groups develop lasting friendships and make great memories as they go through their summer camp adventure together.
Very Big Sports (VBS) Camp (submitted by Justeen Hill)
One year, instead of the usual VBS we introduced Very Big Sports Camp. We rented a junior high for one week which offered a large gym, small gym, tennis courts, track field, swimming pool, soccer field, etc. The day began with wacky games in the big gym and then the kids were able to sample a sport of their choosing for one hour. Each sport was staffed with volunteers from the church. Fun was emphasized rather than drills and skills. A snack was served and then campers were off to the gym bleachers for the Bible lesson. We closed the day with a 15-minute message from a well-known Christian athlete highlighting the importance of keeping one's Christian integrity and attitude while playing sports. The event pulled in kids who normally would never have attended a regular VBS. T-shirts were included in the $25.00 registration fee.
A children's video series could be used as the basis for a VBS.
The hours can be on Friday (6 a.m. - 9 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m.-3 p.m.), and Sunday (9:15 a.m.- noon) or whatever works best for your situation. The VBS refreshment team can prepare a simple lunch on Saturday for the children, with many of the items donated by Sunday School classes or individuals in the church. Adult classes are usually open to relocating and making the necessary adjustments for this once-a-year program. Having the VBS during the Sunday morning service attracts non-Christian parents and those who do not have a church home. To provide enough time for Bible stories, songs, and Scripture memorization, the crafts and recreation periods are shortened. There are two major advantages to this option: (1) the schedule rarely competes with Vacation Bible Schools at other churches since most are held Monday through Friday and (2) more men are usually willing to help on the weekend.
Winter Vacation Bible School
Activities include: mini carnival, crafts, games, Bible stories, music, videos, and snacks.
When choosing a date for your VBS, check not only your church calendar but such conflicting events as sports or other community traditions which would compete for your participants. Determine the normal pattern of family vacations based on past Sunday School attendance. Find out the availability of volunteers for proposed dates. After accumulating this information you will be ready to set the date for the school, and put it on the church calendar.
ESTABLISH A TIME LINE
Five Months In Advance
Prayerfully set goals
If you are a new director, meet with former directors and volunteers
Talk with VBS director from other churches to get ideas
Decide target group
Preview curriculum options
Develop workable budget and set into motion necessary fund-raisers
Establish and maintain good communication with all areas of your church affected by your VBS
Four Months In Advance
Pray for guidance in finding the people God wants to serve in this ministry
Write job descriptions
Enlist department leaders
Three Months In Advance
Continue to pray
Outline advertising plan
Order T-shirts for staff
Two Months In Advance
Provide staff training for all those persons involved in VBS. By holding trainings on more than one date, more people may be able to attend. Also, consider videotaping training for those unable to attend on your scheduled dates. Consider serving a light lunch following worship service or prior to a weeknight event to encourage staffers to attend training.
Outline ways to increase enrollment
Make room assignments
Meet with department leaders
Keep VBS in front of your people through announcements and advertising
One Month In Advance
Pray for staff and students
Determine offering incentives
Complete final details
Finalize follow-up plans
Work on closing program or VBS wrap-up event
Designate entrance and exit doors for all activities
Arrange traffic patterns for moving children
Print facility maps
Develop specific prayer guide and put as bulletin insert until VBS opens
Pray without ceasing
Make necessary adjustments
Conduct final staff meeting and have prayer time
Canvas a 3-mile radius around your church
Post facility directory at multiple sites, listing room locations and ages of children
The Day Before
Contact leaders for any last-minute problems
Have leaders check with their workers to be sure all assigned responsibilities have been fulfilled
Provide extra greeters for Day One
Pray daily with staff
Keep necessary records
Make necessary adjustments
Organize a clean-up party
Pray for the children who accepted Jesus as personal Savior
Contact every child who attended (write, call, and visit)
Give names of VBS visitors to appropriate Sunday School teachers for follow-up
Express appreciation to staff, including a post VBS staff party
Evaluate and make notes for next year and file in your church office
PRERVIEW CURRICULUM OPTIONS
Choose biblically-based, powerful lessons that will have a lasting impact on children’s lives.
The Christian Ed Warehouse is the #1 source for Vacation Bible School materials. You can also go directly to these web sites to check out curriculum offerings: Augsburg Fortress, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Cokesbury, Concordia Publishing House, Cook Communications, Gospel Light, Group, Jericho Junction, Marketplace 29 A.D., Regular Baptist Press, Standard Publishing, Truth Quest, Veggie Town Values, WordAction.
DEVLOP WORKABLE BUDGET AND PLAN FUND-RAISERS
If your church has had VBS before, you will probably be given an estimated budget figure based on previous years. If you find there are no designated or an inadequate amount of funds, you will need to come up with your own estimate of costs. Write down the price of each item you’ll need, then tally the total cost to set your budget.
If your church doesn’t have a VBS budget in place, don’t worry! Inadequate fund for a quality VBS program needn’t be a stumbling block. Under “Search” on The Egad Ideas internet site ( www.egadideas.com ), type in “Fund Raisers” and you’ll find a huge collection of ideas. There are countless ways to painlessly raise the funds you need: collect an offering to cover expenses; charge a per-child registration fee; invite congregation members to “sponsor” children by contributing a per-child amount; sponsor a yard sale; or sell items on eBay.
Pastor Amy Alletzhauser shares that for several weeks, members tried to unravel the acronym "T.G.I.L" that was written on posters throughout the church. Finally, they revealed the title of their fund-raiser: "Thank God I'm Living!" Everyone was encouraged to donate one dollar for each year of life to the VBS fund. Although they were a small congregation with many older members on fixed incomes, everyone responded to this challenge. The event raised $3,200!
Another way to save money is to start cleaning out the closets and cupboards at your church. Often hidden cob-webbed covered crannies you’ll find useable supplies. A resource center is not only a money-saver, but a time-saver.
Once you’ve determined your needs, get the budget approved by church leadership. Know which areas you can reduce, if needed. You may want to find someone to serve as your VBS financial coordinator to keep track of monies received and sent, to handle reimbursements, and to make sure that you stay within your budget.
Write Job Descriptions
Potential volunteers often misunderstand the task they are asked to perform. No one can satisfactorily function in a given role unless it is clearly understood what is expected. Included in the job description should be some indication of what the volunteer may expect from the church, as well as what the church expects from the volunteer.
A job description is a list of the general tasks, essential functions, and responsibilities of a ministry area. Each description should include: position title, essential duties to be performed, and to whom the position reports.
It’s helpful to begin each responsibility with an action verb, such as: approve, assist, conduct, coordinate, delegate, design, establish, evaluate, facilitate, guide, handle, implement, improve, instruct, maintain, manage, operate, plan, prepare, present, recruit, schedule, strengthen, teach, train, troubleshoot.
For instance, for your Recreation Director you might write: Select age-appropriate games and activities for the 30-minute recreation time; demonstrate games and activities to the VBS staff at the training session - so teachers and helpers are familiar with the rules; direct each recreation segment.
The Music Director job description might say: One of the most effective ways to learn Christian truths is through music. Words or concepts which are difficult to memorize in prose form may be learned quickly when combined with a memorable tune. Long after VBS is over, many children will still be singing the songs they have learned. You have the opportunity to select the songs which each group will be learning during the Music Segment and to creatively teach them. You are responsible for obtaining needed audio and/or visual equipment for use during the Music Segments. You will lead each age group in performing at the VBS Closing Program.
Here are more Vacation Bible School Ministry Opportunity Job Descriptions to assist you:
Class Guide: Sits with children during opening and closing, leads the children to each of their activities; no preparation needed.
Craft Team: Helps prepare the needed items for the children’s crafat projects; preparation dates to be set by craft team leader; work in the craft room each morning of VBS.
Snack Team: Help prepare snacks needed each morning at VBS; serve and clean up snack area each morning of VBS; may work one or more mornings during the week.
Recreation Team: Work with the children during recreation time; games to be prepared by the Recreation Team Leader; help with "crowd control".
Activity Room Coordinators: Attend training meeting; prepare daily lessons in cooperation with the other coordinators in your age group for each day of VBS (ideas will be given); purchase materials needed (will be reimbursed from the church); work with two groups of children each morning of VBS.
Story Tellers/Skits: Act out or tell the story of the day (at several different times during the morning) to a large group of children; volunteers one or more days depending on availability; will need to be available for practice prior to the day your skit is performed, time to be determined by Story Room Coordinator.
Making Scenery: Trace and paint scenery needed for VBS week; work will be done during May and the first week of June, times to be set by Decorating Coordinator.
Registration: Help prepare nametags and signs needed for VBS; volunteer during the week of VBS to help children that need to register.
Nursery: Provide tender loving care to the children of VBS workers.
Decorating Team: Help decorate the church during the week prior to Vacation Bible School.
Follow-Up Team: Contact each child who prayed and asked Jesus into his heart during VBS.
People are often reluctant to help in VBS because they feel unqualified; think someone else can do the job better; fear the unknown; are afraid they will fail; do not understand what is involved in the specific assignment; or are turned off by the poor enlistment technique of “there’s no one else who will do it.”
If VBS is God's work, you can count on Him to provide the needed help. Rather than a general call from the pulpit
(“anyone interested in working in VBS see so-and-so after church“), directly contact people. Sixty percent of people in any congregation do NOT respond to general announcements! One-on-one recruitment is always the most effective, and also eliminates the possibility of individuals responding for a position who are not qualified. Ask specific people for a specific job.
Running an effective Vacation Bible School requires an excited, dedicated and coordinated staff. Have in hand a list of all needed positions, such as: advertising, Bible discovery, nursery child care, class coordinator, crafts, decorating, games, mission project, music, photography, preschool, puppetry, registration, set-up/dismantling cew, supplies shopper, snacks, teacher assistants, transportation, etc.
Prayer is the foundation and cornerstone of everything which is done and is the source of each staff member’s energy, strength and direction. Consider recruiting a prayer partner for each member of the VBS team.
Speak to your pastor about a staff dedication before your VBS begins. The dedication will only last a few minutes, but it serves as a powerful reminder of whom we go to for our strength and guidance, as well as the purpose of our service.
ORGANIZE PRAYER EMPHASIS
Enlist a personal prayer partner for each worker from those not directly involved in VBS.
Ask your congregation to under-gird your school and it’s staff in prayer. Feel free to adapt the following VBS Prayer List (used with permission from www.sschool.com/vbs ):
God’s guidance for faculty and staff as we prepare for VBS this year.
Spiritual understanding of the content of the Bible passages to be taught.
Physical stamina for the workers during the week of VBS.
Safety and health for all our workers and students.
Spiritual direction in discerning the “teachable moment” for each child and the extent of each child’s readiness for salvation.
God’s watchcare, to avoid accidents, trials, temptations, and distractions.
Wise use of time in planning, preparing, and teaching.
Positive attitude of excitement and enthusiasm for each teacher and helper.
Understanding, loving, helping relationships with the children in each department.
Supportive team relationships with other workers in the department and school.
Strengthened relationship with God.
Relationships with spouse and family.
Developing relationships with the parents of each child enrolled, particularly the unchurched.
VBS publicity as we attempt to reach the children from our community.
Follow-up efforts to contact every child enrolled with an invitation to Sunday School.
Children will learn more about the Bible; learn that God loves them and that our church family loves them as well; and come to know Jesus as their personal savior or build the foundation for that experience.
Keep the word “pizzazz” in the forefront of your mind when planning your publicity! Video games, shopping malls, and swimming pools now compete with VBS each summer. Vacation Bible School must be publicized with enough "whiz-bang" excitement and enthusiasm to attract prospective children and parents. Include in your promotional materials such things as: action-packed activities, unforgettable special events, fun and safe environment, caring adult team leaders, valuable life principles, FREE gifts!
Don’t forget to raise visibility of your VBS among your congregation through promotion. The more excited people become, the more likely they will want to be involved.
Check that each promotional piece is:
Clear (all pertinent information is available and clearly understood)
Unusual (Creativity forces readers to take a second look)
Accurate (Have someone who has never seen the copy proofread it. Don’t rely upon a computer spellcheck.)
A large, colorful banner on the outside of your church building or on the lawn helps to attract attention.
Send direct mail letters to all church families with children and all on your church prospect list.
Start publicizing VBS as soon as you have confirmed the dates. Alert members through your church bulletin, newsletter and phone tree.
For maximum effectiveness, people in the community must be aware of your upcoming VBS. There is something about "free" which captures attention. Print tickets on heavy, bright paper with the heading: FREE ADMISSION to Vacation Bible School. Include the name, address, and phone number of your church along with the dates and times of the event. Distribute these within a 3-mile radius of your church, at parks and swimming pools.
Prepare and distribute attractive flyers to homes within a 3-mile radius of your church. It's often helpful to make these interactive by offering a FREE PRIZE to everyone who attends the first night of VBS. Don't forget to also target any parks or community swimming pools in the area.
If you plan to canvas your church neighborhood with VBS flyers, do not put them in any type of mailbox. Mailboxes are considered government property and are designated for postal mail only. If you place literature in a mailbox and the recipient reports it to the authorities, you could find yourself and your organization in some legal trouble.
To catch attention with your ad, be creative. One church bought a small space in their community newspaper. In the center of the space, was a black dot approximately one-inch in diameter. Under the dot it said: "Blow on this dot. If it turns red, go to your doctor. If it stays black, bring the dot to Vacation Bible School at (name of church) on (date) at (time) and receive a FREE GIFT!"
A newspaper article is often more effective than an ad and it's free! Let your religion editor know about any special feature that could be highlighted in such an article.
Word of mouth is still the most effective advertising method. Motivate children in your church to tell their school and neighborhood friends by giving prizes for each new child brought on the first night of VBS.
Enlist volunteers to call all members of the children's division Sunday School and all boys and girls who attended your VBS last year. The first call should be made two weeks prior to the event. The last call needs to be made two days before the event starts.
Write names of prizes on paper, fold, and insert into balloons. Blow up the balloons, tie a string on the end, fasten to a long string stretched across the room. All who qualify can break the balloon of their choice with a hat pin, and receive the prize listed inside. (Adult supervision is required to ensure safety with the pin.)
Battle of the Sexes
Have the boys and girls compete against each other. Award 500 points for individual attendance by sexes and 1,000 points for each new visitor brought by either a boy or girl.
Thomas Road Baptist Church implements a "Bring 3" campaign. They encourage church members to build relationships with friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors; find prospects; and bring three new children to VBS. This has proven to be an effective way of boosting VBS attendance; finding unchurched children; and growing their overall children's ministry.
The theme one summer for the First Evangelical Congregational Church of Reading, Pennsylvania was “The Ten Commandments.” They had over 100 children and most of them did not attend any Sunday School or church. Each new child who attended was given a T-shirt with the Ten Commandments printed on the front and a picture of their church on the back. In order to pay for the shirts, they developed a sponsorship program called the “Buddy System.” All children had their pictures taken when they enrolled in VBS and each picture was made into a name tag which also included the name, address, and birthday of the child. Sponsors contributed $5.00 to pay for the T-shirt and receive a picture of the child they were sponsoring. Sponsors were given the responsibility to pray for the child and were asked to send a card on the child’s birthday and for special holidays. When contacting the children, many sponsors included their own phone numbers and told the children to call if they needed a ride to church. Numerous new children started attended this church as a result of this effective program.
In your VBS publicity, announce a free gift to all who attend the first session.
Businesses in the community will often donate items for you to use as prizes. Be sure there is an extensive display of prizes, so numerous children can receive something. The person who brings the most friends may choose first what they want. The next runner-up may then choose. This way, a child can select a gift they will really enjoy and use.
The children who regularly attend your church are the best outreach tools you have! Plan a pizza party before your public school is out for the summer where you educate them on helping their friends hear and learn about God. Have each child write down as many names of friends as they can think of who they would like to invite. Have prayer together for these prospects. Before they leave, give them invitations to give to their friends (regardless of when your VBS is scheduled). Save all these names and a week before VBS, have them re-invite their friends.
Print play money in $10 denominations. In the center of each piece write, "This is valuable to you! You may spend it at Millionaire Acres the last day of VBS." Award the money daily for attendance and visitors brought. Set up a bank where children may turn in their money and accurate records are kept. Organize Millionaire Acres with gifts containing price tags. Each child may withdraw his money the final day of VBS and "shop" for items at Millionaire Acres.
Daily select mystery names from the VBS enrollment. Each child who is present receives a small gift.
Let people in the community know you care about their children. Do one or more of the following:
1) News item or release - double-spaced with one-inch margin around. In the upper left corner type "For Immediate Release" or give a future date if you want the information held. Under these words type the name and address of the church. In the upper right corner, place the name and telephone number of a contact person.
2) Feature Story - longer and more informative than a news release.
3) Paid Advertisements - arranged attractively using key information.
The Saturday prior to VBS, distribute promotional flyers within a 3-mile radius of the church, at shopping centers, playgrounds, and parks. Enlist commitments from children and parents by pre-registering the boys and girls.
No greater communication system exists than one person telling another. Get the boys and girls excited so they will invite their friends. Be sure parents and adults in the church are aware of your program and dates.
The week prior to VBS, start pre-enrolling children in their Sunday School classes or at a special booth set up in the church foyer. This not only reminds the boys and girls of the upcoming event, but serves to decrease the first-night registration hassle line.
Send out at least two colorful, attractive publicity flyers.
Send basic information to the "community calendar" of your local radio station, including the who, what, when, and where details of your event.
Place an attractive sign in your church yard.
Call all Sunday School members and those who attended last year's school and let them know about the exciting, upcoming VBS. Extend a personal invitation. Talk with parents to see if transportation is needed or if they can be involved in helping.
On the Saturday after VBS, you can have a "Fun Fest" and invite the parents. During the week, the children attending Vacation Bible School are awarded tickets for attendance and bringing friends which they can spend at the fair. Adult Sunday School classes can sponsor booths.
Boys and girls love to receive trophies. Award trophies to all who bring three friends who have never attended VBS before.
VBS Pre-Registration Carnival
Held the Saturday before VBS, the carnival provides an opportunity for attracting neighborhood children to the church.
Be sure on your registration forms to include a place for parents and/or children to indicate allergies to such things as nuts, peanut butter, milk, etc.
Alternate snacks should be available.
Ants on A Log
Spread peanut butter on celery; top with raisins.
Slice apples. Spread with peanut butter. Dip in Rice Krispies.
Cut each banana in half. Dip in a mixture of half lemon juice and half water. Insert a popsicle stick into each banana. Roll in crushed Grape Nuts. Freeze.
Slice bananas thin and place between two vanilla wafers to form a sandwich.
Catch A Fish!
On each child's plate, place 1/3 cup Goldfish crackers, 10 pretzel sticks and 2 tablespoons peanut butter. The kids can pretend the pretzels are fishing poles and by dipping the "poles" in peanut butter, they can then "catch" fish!
Cheese and Crackers
Cheese with whole wheat crackers is delicious and easy to fix.
Melt Cheese Whiz in the microwave or on top of the stove, according to directions on the jar. Allow the cheese to cool slightly. Dip and twist the tip of each pretzel stick into the cheese, lift out, wait twenty seconds, then dip again. Set onto a sheet of waxed paper. Allow to cool at room temperature for ten minutes or until cheese is firm. Gently pull off waxed paper.
Use cinnamon stick cookies! Lay one cookie upside down and frost with brightly colored icing. Then, cut red licorice pull apart candy approximately 1 1/2 inches long and place them crosswise for legs. Top the cinnapede with another cookie right side up.
1 box unfrosted cereal; 1 large box raisins; 1 jar dry roasted peanuts; 1 large package candy-coated chocolate pieces.
Make Jell-o. Once it sets, cut into small squares. Fill ice cream cones. Top with whipped topping. Insert a plastic spoon.
Melt 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips. Pour over 5 cups of Kix cereal. Stir gently to coat the cereal. Form into balls. Place on waxed paper. Chill for at least 24 hours. Makes about 60 balls.
Oatmeal Chocolate No-Bake Cookies
2 cups white sugar; 1 stick margarine; 1/2 cup milk; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 1/2 cups peanut butter; 2 tablespoons cocoa; 3
cups oatmeal. Mix the first three ingredients in saucepan. Boil for one minute. Remove from the heat. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix all ingredients together. Scoop and drop by tablespoon onto waxed paper and cool.
Spread peanut butter on Ritz crackers. Top to form sandwiches.
Popcorn in a Cup
Pop popcorn and put into a large paper cup.
Make with fruit juice.
The children can be involved in making these, if so desired. Soften a package of yeast in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Mix in 4 cups of flour. Knead into a soft, smooth dough. The children can roll and mold to their hearts content. Place shapes on a cookie sheet. Brush with a beaten egg. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Follow instructions on the sugar-free pudding package. Pour into Styrofoam cups, about half-full. Top with whipped topping. Insert a plastic spoon.
Rice Krispies Pops
You will need: 5 cups of Rice Krispies; 1/4 cup of butter or margarine; 4 cups of small marshmallows; Popsicle sticks.
Melt margarine or butter in a saucepan. Add marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from the heat, add the Rice Krispies and stir until coated. Shape an oval around a Popsicle stick.
½ cup butter or margarine - melted; 2 tablespoons Cocoa; 2 tablespoons sugar; 4 cups Apple Cinnamon Cherrios; 4 cups Crispex; 1 cup almonds - silvered; 1 cup raisins. In 4-quart microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar and cocoa. Add cereals and almonds. Stir until evenly coated. Microwave on high 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Stir in raisins. Microwave at high 3 minutes more, stirring every minute. Cool completely and store in airtight container in cool, dry place.
Churches of all sizes must take the welfare of children seriously. Sadly, when churches are held to the standards our culture now expects for child-care facilities, most ministries fail to achieve even the minimum standards in terms of child registration procedures and documentation.
Our challenge today: Is the church willing to do what it takes to meet and exceed all applicable child-care safe practices, not because we have to, but because we're committed to demonstrating to the world that it's Christ's church that best loves and cares for children?
Make plans for keeping your children safe. Regarding safety of the children, put on the registration form a section saying, "Who will pick up your child at the end of the day?" Parents receive a letter 1-2 weeks before VBS stating they will need to park and come in the building to pick up their child/children from specified rooms. To avoid confusion as to where to go, send a map of the church to the parents clearly labeled as to where to pick up the different grade levels. Maps and signs all over the church also eliminate confusion. Requiring parents to come inside to pick up their children also provides the opportunity for you and the pastor to make contact with them.
Child abuse is a real issue today. Be sure your entire staff are screened so a known abuser is not involved with the boys and girls. With ACCUFAX (www.accufax-us.com ), getting records is quick and easy, and you can be confident the information you get is complete, compliant, and accurate.
Because of the complexity of these issues and due to the changing nature of state and federal laws, it is helpful for churches to utilize legal help in this area.
Enlist help from those who were unable to serve during VBS. A slide-show presentation could be a fun special feature.
Certificates of Appreciation
Perfect way to say, “Thank You!” for devoted ministry and extra hours of labor.
It doesn’t take long to E-mail words of appreciation to your staff each day of VBS.
Pay Day Candy Bar
Attach a note which reads: “Thank you for all the seeds you planted this year in the lives of boys and girls during VBS. Your real Pay Day will come when Jesus tells you ‘Well done’.”
Treat ‘Em Right: Tasty Ideas for Encouraging Volunteer
This creative resource by Susan Cutshall is full of ideas for 70 different “tasty” notes. These notes to accompany the treats are arranged four to a page and are easy to reproduce. Just copy, cut, and add a tasty treat to complete the message of appreciation. Order from your Christian bookstore or www.Amazon.com.
You've Made a Difference Poem (Copyrighted by Linda J. Stevenson. May copy for local church use.)
Thank you for the time you give
To each child who looks to you;
You truly make a difference
By all you say and do.
For as you touch each tender heart,
You leave your imprint there;
And always they'll remember you--
How much you really cared.
Keep on loving, keep on caring,
Sharing Christ as you do,
For one day they'll return to say,
“Teacher, I do thank you.”
“You've made a difference in my life.
I'm who I am today,
Because you gave your time to teach
And show to me God’s Way.”
CONSIDERATIONS FOR CLOSING PROGRAM
Parents, grandparents, and family members love seeing their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews on stage! A closing program provides this opportunity and allows many who have never attended your church to come for this event.
The electronic equipment explosion enhances your ability to quickly produce a professional presentation of slides and/or video of your Vacation Bible School highlights. The children can share Bible verses they memorized and songs they learned. A special puppet presentation, Bible story, or other special feature will make for an unforgettable program.
Some churches are successfully concluding VBS with a Family Festival, which combines a program, special speaker or musician, carnival-type games, and a meal on the grounds.
Few ministries of the church have the evangelistic impact and potential of VBS. However, the number of decisions recorded during VBS is really just the tip of the iceberg for churches that follow-up well with children, parents, grandparents, and siblings of children discovered through VBS.
In the week or two following VBS, the family of every new child who attended should receive a personal visit from someone in the church who shares information about children’s programs and other ministries in which the family might be interested. It’s an all-out effort to let first-time visitors know they are welcome and that church members really care about them and their children.
You may want to have your regular church visitation team handle the VBS visitation follow-up, as they are trained to share their witness and the plan of salvation with people who don’t know the Lord. Family members often accept Christ due to the message, excitement and involvement of their children in VBS.
A part of VBS follow-up is informing your congregation of various highlights. For example, one church published this information: "The purpose of our VBS was to spread the message of God's love and forgiveness through a children's ministry that would also reach families. The city 'zones' around our church is approximately 7,000 homes. Our goal was to have 120 children attend. Through the use of school newsletter announcements, flyer distribution, local posters, newspaper announcements, and personal contact we achieved a registration of 100 children. The following data was gathered from registration information: total attendance was 98; number of families reached was 56 and of these 34% have no church home.”
HOW TO AVOID DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS RATHER THAN BEING FORCED TO DEAL WITH THEM
1. Prepare thoroughly.
Lessons should be action-packed with creative, exciting presentations
2. Anticipate problems and act to prevent them.
3. Have the room prepared when that first pupil arrives.
The children must have something constructive to do immediately. Those first few minutes set the tone for the class time which follows.
4. Give choices within acceptable limits.
In this way you are setting up the environment to make positive encounters more likely. With young children you might say, "Would you like to draw a butterfly or bird?" With older children, "Would you like to research these questions in the Bible dictionary or draw an illustration from the story?"
5. Determine how your actions and responses can be carried out in love.
When disciplining children, they should be corrected in a way that shows them they are loved. When boys and girls sense our loving concern, they're much more willing to emulate our values and our relationship with God. The key to discipling children is to model Christ-like behavior for them while assuring them in every way possible that we truly love them.
6. Evaluate the reasons for misbehavior.
It could be a need for attention, boredom, upset emotions, insecurity, illness, hunger, or inner tension expressed by wiggles.
7. Make your children feel valued.
Use such phrases as: "I'm glad you're a part of our class"; "You are important to me"; "How special you are"; or "Do you know that God created you one of a kind?"
8. Pray regularly.
Ask God to give you wisdom to respond, not react, to situations and that your inner attiude will always be appropriate when exercising authority.
9. Pray for each child by name and need.
God created the boys and girls in your class. He knows them better than anyone else. When your heart yells, "I don't know what to do" -- go to God and seek His wisdom. If we go to Him seeking answers, we will find them!
10. Make expectations clear by setting up a few classroom rules.
a. Follow directions
b. Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself
c. Be respectful - that includes respecting the teacher, visitors, other students, and property
11. When giving the rules, explain reasons behind.
Children have a right to know that when we all obey the rules we are safer and have more fun. The goal of discipline is to teach children and to lead them increasingly toward self-discipline.
12. Share consequences of not following the rules.
Specific positive and negative consequences will be different at each age and stage of development. What works in the preschool class will need to be different in the middler group.
13. Once policies have been stated, allow no infringements.
14. Talk less, act more.
Instead of asking children to be quiet over and over, wait for them to give you their attention. Or flip a light switch if it gets too noisy.
15. Follow a set plan for desirable behavior.
a. Deal with the problem individually.
b. Have the child tell what he did and share "What rule was broken?"
c. Ask what rule was broken.
d. Be sure child understands why the behavior is not acceptable.
e. Let the child experience the consequences of his behavior.
f. Give love and reassurance.
g. Redirect the child into positive activity.
(By Betty Robertson. Permission granted to copy for local church use.)
Posted by BETTY BENSON ROBERTSON