Vacation Bible School Resources
By Elsa Marshall, Resource Center Director
When summer is coming, it is time to plan for what your church school will be offering for the younger members of your church and your community. One of the options is Vacation Bible School aka VBS. Here are the steps to take to get ready:
Try to pick the best time for your staff and children. Ask your volunteers and members of your congregation when they’re available and check to see what other kinds of things will be going on in your community. If there are other VBS’s being offered perhaps you might want to partner with them. Consider having an evening program or even once a week over several weeks or as an alternative on Sunday mornings to church school throughout the summer.
Recruit your volunteers so that you have enough adults for a safe adult to child ratio. You will need leaders and aides for all the different activity areas. If you offer that program each Sunday morning you could design it to be like the rotation model methodology.
Choose and order your curriculum. You will want to do that as soon as possible so that you can get materials organized and out to your volunteers. Advertize early! Don’t wait to order all the add-ons as the publishers often run out of them before summer begins. Cokesbury has put out a VBS Summer Showcase 2013 booklet that gives you many choices by different publishers. The provide a full description, what bible stories are focused, age levels, prices, music in kit, video/multimedia components, student and leader books available, decorating helps, other languages that the curriculum is offered in, and other special notations about each VBS listing.
Once the decision is made to offer a VBS then you will want to get the word out. Use community publications as well as creating an online presence. Try to get families to register as soon as possible so you have an inkling of how many children will be coming. If you charge for your VBS program you could offer an early bird special discount to encourage people to commit.
It is very important to have more than one training session for your staff. People are very busy and you want your staff to know what’s expected of them. Training sessions can also get them excited about this year’s offering as they learn about the theme and activities to be offered. Make sure the aides even if they are youth aides receive training as well.
Be sure to have a closing ceremony where you honor and thank your full staff. Raise them up in your newsletter and during a worship service as well. Before VBS begins you could dedicate them and the ministry in worship which would be another good thing to do.
After your VBS program is complete be sure to ask right away for feedback from your volunteers and families who participated. If you have VBS families who aren’t part of your church make sure you follow up with an invitation to attend Sunday School, services and other programs and activities that you offer. Have church brochures available to give them information about your church.
Have fun and I look forward to hearing from you about your successes and your suggestions. I am available here at the MACUCC Resource Center on Wednesdays. Send me an email or give me a call.
These links offer a variety of VBS resources:
Global Ministries: Kids to kids VBS Curriculum
Global Ministries: God's Love is Everywhere
UCC Files: R.E.A.D.Y. Preparing for the Journey
Peace Village, Inc.: Starting a Camp.