For many churches, dates for Vacation Bible School (VBS) are among the first placed on the church calendar each year. Churches give VBS high priority because pastors recognize VBS as one of the most important evangelistic events for the entire church year.
RELATED: Check out more VBS stories here.
Enlisting volunteers early in the year and providing teaching resources are important parts of VBS preparation.
In order to be successful, volunteers need to receive more than a leader guide. Volunteers need training. While most churches schedule VBS during the summer months, the planning and training process should begin much earlier.
Thousands of leaders attend Lifeway VBS Previews in January each year. State conventions and associations schedule training sessions as early as February.
Training is an important part of seeing people come to Christ through VBS. Lifeway VBS statistics show that for every person trained for VBS, we see 1.1 salvations.
Training VBS leaders includes more than Bible study leaders.
Music, crafts, recreation, missions and even snack leaders need to be trained to share the gospel during VBS.
How to equip your VBS director
By now, you may be thinking “VBS is months away and we are already behind. How can we map out a strategy for VBS without getting overwhelmed?”
Lifeway prepares a VBS Administrative Guide each year to help in planning a successful VBS. The VBS 2024 Administrative Guidepresents a six-step strategy to guide churches in VBS planning.
- Know your purpose and theme.
- Start planning.
- Enlist and train your workers.
- Promote and publicize.
- Register participants.
- Continue the connection.
Each step has tips and tools to help you accomplish that particular step.
One of my favorite tools for helping VBS directors is the planning calendar provided in step two.
The calendar is a checklist of tasks that need to be completed before, during, and after VBS. The list is divided into months leading up to VBS, helping VBS directors track their progress as they move toward VBS week. The calendar begins with tasks to be completed as early as six to nine months before VBS and gradually adds additional tasks. This planning process helps directors avoid feeling overwhelmed by attempting to do multiple tasks within a few weeks before VBS begins.
Lifeway’s VBS Directors Club is another great resource.
The VBS Directors Club gives access to recruiting and enlistment tools, downloads for exclusive themed clip art, training presentations, a downloadable VBS planning timeline, and more.
Keep the main thing the main thing
In the midst of everything that must be done before VBS, it is easy to forget the purpose of VBS.
The VBS director may have gathered all the items on the supply list. Teachers may have cut and sorted all the items in their leader pack. Worship leaders may have learned the motions to every song. Craft leaders may have organized every item possible for a project. But a leader who has not studied information on sharing the plan of salvation is not ready.
Always remember that the main purpose of VBS should be to reach lost people for Christ.
You can have lots of fun with a theme and share all kinds of stories from the Bible.
But remember to keep the main thing the main thing — helping unsaved children, students, and adults come to an understanding of their need for a Savior.
When you have made your lists and checked them multiple times, what else do you need to do?
Be intentional about informing leaders about how your church plans to handle decisions during VBS. Help leaders know it is not their job to save people. They may not see results from their efforts right away. Their role is to share the good news of Jesus prayerfully, carefully, and lovingly. Encourage leaders to leave the rest to God.
Consider having a commissioning service on the Sunday before VBS begins.
Pray with leaders, thanking God for the privilege of sharing His love with future generations.
Ask God to bless the preparation of each leader and to give them opportunities to share with children, students and their families.
If you find yourself questioning how you can justify months of planning for one week out of the church year, remind yourself of the main purpose of VBS. VBS is worth it!
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Vicki Hulsey and originally published by Lifeway. Hulsey has served as a childhood specialist for the Tennessee Mission Board for 19 years. Previously, she served on church staffs in the areas of preschool, children, students, family and education ministries.