By Chip Warren
Veteran VBS leader in Alabama
Vacation Bible School (VBS) remains the No. 1 outreach event for Southern Baptist churches. It has the potential to affect the eternal destiny of children and families in your community. Every child a church reaches from the community is a connection to many other people. One is never just one.
The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions offers a full slate of resources (https://alsbom.org/vbs/) to help your church be ready each year, as does your local Baptist association staff.
VBS should have your full focus, energy and budget as your main summer activity. Even if you have VBS the same week every summer, don’t assume everyone knows — and work hard to reach the unchurched kids especially. Publicity and outreach efforts are important. Set numerical goals for your VBS and make a plan as to how to reach them.
Here are a few publicity and outreach tips:
Tip #1 — Print VBS T-shirts and put the dates and times on them. Make them available early so VBS leaders and other adults in the church can begin to wear them out in public. Your information is best seen on the back of the shirt.
Tip #2 — Have business cards printed with your VBS info on them. Business cards can be kept in a purse, wallet, pocket and car. They also are easier to handle than paper flyers. Be sure to have them available to all church members to invite kids and families to VBS.
Tip #3 — Encourage church kids to invite their friends who do not attend any church to VBS. Reward the kids with VBS “money” to spend in the VBS store.
Once VBS kicks off, be sure to have everything organized and in place so the VBS team is settled, confident and ready to greet parents and children warmly and with a calm spirit.
While unexpected things happen on the first day, advance planning and preparation can eliminate some of the chaos.
Each parent and child needs to feel welcomed when they arrive on that first day. Parents also need to be assured they are leaving their child in a safe, secure and sanitary environment.
The child won’t notice the same things the parent will notice. The child wants to have fun and that should be a primary focus on the first day. Also, the Bible needs to come alive for VBS participants.
Bible teaching should utilize all five senses to fully engage kids.
The child also needs to connect with at least one adult leader as well as other kids. Many kids have a built-in connection with their friends at VBS but not all have friends there. Bible study leaders should include a few connecting activities. Remind the church kids how important it is to make new kids feel welcome. And of course kids need to connect with God throughout the week.
Renew your vision
A good VBS has the potential to boost your church’s sense of significance and draw people together. If you are sensing a lack of energy or enthusiasm about VBS in your church, ask God to renew your vision and excitement.
If your church has experienced decline in recent years, you may have the attitude that no kids will want to come to your VBS — put that attitude away.
Get started by recruiting volunteers. Issue a personal invitation to new members and regular attenders. VBS is a great opportunity to connect. Create opportunities for as many people as possible to serve in your VBS, even if they are not needed for the entire time each session. Having a large number of adults working together in VBS will do something special for your church.
And don’t forget the follow-up once VBS wraps up. That is just as important as all the planning.