Children's Ministry

Reaching Your Community through an Effective VBS

Nathan Birt

Vacation Bible School is always coming! As we plan a new year of ministry, Vacation Bible School is no doubt one of the largest summer events on the church’s calendar. But oftentimes, VBS can develop a dry, “we’ve-done-this-before” mentality among volunteers, and even the children. The church leadership is responsible each year to provide a fresh, new, exciting event that will ground children in the Word of God and attract new families to the church.

Oftentimes in the summer, parents are looking for a fun, affordable event for their kids to enjoy. Groupon recently polled their parent customers, and 58% of them said they wanted summer break to be over after 13 days of their kids being home! “Parents said they were stressed about keeping their kids busy” in those summer months. VBS is a proven event that can reach new families with the Gospel and equip children with the Word of God.

But how can we hold a successful, fresh VBS in the coming year?

Not one template or VBS package fits every church, so what are ways that you and your church can help and encourage families for your VBS event? Consider providing a parenting elective each night while the kids are enjoying the events. Serve refreshments, and promote a specific topic that would help parents, something like “Balancing Media in the Home” or “Preparing Your Child for the Teenager Years.” Every parent in your community should want to come and hear how to become a better parent.

How can you make your registration process more user-friendly and impressive to a first time guest? Perhaps provide an online registration on your promotional items to make the registration process quicker when they arrive. Whatever the specifics are that fit your church and schedule, there are always ways that we can make our first impression better each year.

To get the parents excited about coming to VBS, the kids need to be excited! Consider counting down each week in your Sunday school classes with small giveaways to build anticipation for the event. Announce specific prizes for each night of VBS so the kids can look forward to the week. Host a costume contest with the theme, or give a grand prize at the end of the week for those who bring the most friends. Create a fun, exciting environment that no other church in your community has. (As a side note, you may want to consider creating your own theme and curriculum to stand out from the usual packages that are offered down the street.)

Before the event, we need to consider the question: What is a successful VBS? And tailor our follow up accordingly. Obviously a successful VBS changes eternity with the Gospel and changes your church with fresh new faces in the Sunday services. How can you reach out to those families who come for a night? How can you encourage the children who just got saved to get baptized? How can you see families added to the church because of this event? Maybe have a special Baptism Sunday for those who were saved or have the kids sing in the service on Sunday. Provide a special gift for parents who attend an adult Sunday school class the next Sunday. Encourage your adult ministry leaders to visit the families who came. Sometimes VBS has a tendency to disappear quickly after the last night since most of the volunteers are completely exhausted, so maybe pass on the follow up to a fresh team that can give the energy that is needed. Instead of seeing VBS disappear into the distance, the proper follow up allows the event to accomplish the eternal rewards that matter most.

Vacation Bible School is one of the best ways to reach families in the summer months, but the effort must be well-planned and filled with God’s power. Every church is different, but God’s power can fill them all if we keep our focus on eternal rewards and seek to lift Christ up to the next generation.