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How to Have a Successful Vacation Bible School

Early Stage Planning

1. Pray

You start by praying. God knows the best way to get things done at your church. If you have read Experiencing God (Blackaby & King) you’ll remember this example. A church asked, God, how do you want to reach our community through us and build a great church? God let them to start a bus ministry and provide transportation for children and adults to come to church. They did what God told them to do, and their church grew into a great church. They were flattered when people from all over the country began to ask, What are you doing to grow so rapidly? They wrote a book on how to build great churches through a bus ministry. Thousands of churches began to buy buses to reach their communities, feeling that the method was the key to growth. Later many sold those same buses. They are saying, It didn’t work for us. IT never works! HE works! The method is never the key to accomplishing God’s purposes. The key is your relationship to God. When you want to know how God would have you reach boys and girls, ask Him.

Ø Ask God to show you where He is at work at your church.

Ø Watch to see what God does after you pray. Always make a connection between your prayers and what happens next. For instance, maybe you’ll start hearing people say, We sure have a lot of children in our neighborhood. Sure wish there was some way we could reach them. PERHAPS this year — instead of a traditional VBS like you’ve had every year . . . God is working in that neighborhood and you’ll need to have a backyard VBS. We’ll be going over some planning principles in this workshop. But planning is simply a tool — it can never become a substitute for God. The biggest problem with planning is we plan and carry out things in our own wisdom. We’ve got to be willing to let God interrupt our plans any time He wants.

Ø Be willing to attempt something only God can do. Often we attempt only what we know we can do!

Ø Be willing to adjust your plans and programs to what God is doing.

2. Ask

Ø Why are we doing what we’re doing?

Ø What is our purpose?

Ø Where is God working?

3. Choose the kind of school: traditional VBS or an option, based on your answers to #2.

Ø Backyard VBS
The major purpose is outreach and evangelism. By taking VBS away from the church to neighborhood homes, a congregation is able to reach a greater number of unchurched homes and children.

Ø Monthly VBS
Schedule one month for preschool and kindergarten children; another for primary and middler; and the final time slot for junior and teens. This alternative plan works great for churches short on space and staff.

Ø Musical Mania
Select a children’s musical with a good message and spend at least two intensive weeks learning it. Present on a Friday night or Sunday morning, inviting parents and friends. During practice session, can include a brief devotional, activities, crafts or games.

Ø Sum-Time Fun
Plan a series of five field trips to places of interest in your area. While in transit, learn Bible verses and songs. Concentrate on kids bringing friends and making new contacts for your church.

Ø Super Summer Saturdays
All age groups meet in Saturday for a five to ten week period and have VBS

Ø Super Summer Sundays
Conduct VBS for 5 weeks during the summer on Sundays, combining Sunday School and morning worship hours. Great time to give your S.S. teachers a break by recruiting a SSS staff.

Ø VBS Day Camp
Children and the out-of-doors go naturally together! Boys and girls love to run free, hair blowing in the wind, inspect a fuzzy caterpillar creeping slowly along a low-hanging branch . . . It’s almost as if God planned the natural world as a special birthright of the young. Children’s natural and wholesome fascination with God’s creation is a foundation stone in VBS Day Camp — which is simply a planned program of experiences for children in an out-of-doors setting during the day. Can be held at the church, making use of parking lot and other available space nearby; at a local park; or anywhere camp-like activities can be conducted. Open-ended program, offering many opportunities of resident camping (nature study, recreation, crafts, outdoor education and fellowship) without the extended absence from home. Program activities include the use of VBS curriculum materials.

4. Set the date for the school, and putting it on the church calendar.

5. Order VBS curriculum materials

Middle Stage Planning

1. Enlist workers

Ø a. Pray — workers for the harvest
If VBS is God’s work, you can count on Him to help you.

Ø b. Recruit the right people.

Ø c. Don’t wait for volunteers to come to you.
–Most people want to help, but aren’t very good at initiating.
–Some people lack confidence in their ability to teach or lead.
–Others simply have never been asked!

Ø d. Make the approach person-centered.
Present an opportunity, a responsibility and a need rather than a predicament. It is important to sell people on the need of ministering in VBS, but to do so does not require describing the predicament. The conveying of a crisis is indicative that the organizational structure with its recruiting policies has not been functioning properly. Rather than a general call from the pulpit (anyone interested in working in VBS see so-and-so after church), contact people individually. Ask specific people for a specific job. Avoid appearing out of nowhere with a help request! Build relationships first. Many potential volunteers wonder if they can interact effectively with children. Let potential volunteers observe children’s classes. That way they will get to know the children before you ask them to decide. And they will have a better idea of what’s expected.

Ø e. Provide clear, detailed job descriptions.
Many potential workers misunderstand the task they are asked to perform. No one can satisfactorily function in a given role unless it is clearly understood what the duties are and what is expected included in the job description should be some indication of what the worker may expect from the church, as well as what the church expects from the volunteer. For example, you may expect from us:
–Thorough planning
–Guidance at all points

Ø f. Do not hurry the worker’s decision.
The potential worker should be allowed to carefully study the job description, consider the matter in prayer and finally make a decision. If divine sovereignty is at work within the framework of the local church (and it is), then the worker’s response to the request after prayerful and intelligent consideration must be viewed by the church leadership as within the will of God.

Ø g. Exhibit enthusiasm!

2. Raise visibility of VBS through promotion

Ø The more excited people become, the more likely they will want to be involved.

Ø Let the church know something exciting is about to happen.

Final Stage Planning

Train workers for success

One seminar professor has been quoted as saying it was a sin to give lay people a job and not tell them how to do it!

a. Training involves:

1. Time

2. Energy

3. Patience

But training helps ensure that what you delegate will get done because your volunteers will know how to do it. Through training you impart your vision of what you hope to accomplish through VBS. Training will build a team spirit among all your volunteers.

b. Volunteers want good training to succeed in their job

1. Plan individualized training sessions, if necessary

2. Have seasoned teachers mentor new ones.

3. Direct the event

4. Recognize volunteers by finding personal and surprising ways to say thank you.

Ø Candy bar with a message (ZERO would happen in our VBS without your willingness to help)

Ø Make a heart magnet that says You’re at the heart of what happens in our VBS

Ø Give a plant with a note: Our VBS wouldn’t GROW without you.

Ø Appreciation certificates

Ø Thank you note

Used with permission. The above is an excerpt from Avalanche of Ideas for A Successful VBS
© by Betty Robertson

Creative Christian Ministries

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