Vacation Bible School

What makes a good VBS?

Psalm 127:1 says that, "Unless the Lord builds the house,  those who build it labor in vain."

Of course, we can be resource rich in terms of volunteers, activities, etc. and yet, well, what we need is to do what Jesus did. He said that He always did what He saw The Father doing.

May we be sensitive to His leadership as we intentionally seek to plant seeds of faith in children. Some of these children may be "church children" and others may be community kids. I pray that we will steward opportunities well.

Last summer things were just beginning to open up again. So I sent my then-5-year-old to several VBSes to compensate for missed Sunday School classes. There were two weeks during which he attended morning and evening VBSes, in addition to the weeks during which he only attended one a day.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are from VBS and some of my most meaningful teenage memories are from helping at VBS. Even in my 20’s, helping at VBS was a summer highlight.

Here I will share some opinions about helpful (and unhelpful) VBS practices.

First, anticipation. One church snail mailed our family a bright invitation to VBS and it's on our refrigerator. Seeing it makes me happy.

Next, communication. I appreciated getting nightly emails from one church last summer. It helped me feel connected to my son’s experience and the church itself.

Then, outreach to our family. That same church hosted nightly family dinners and the people were super friendly.

Also, one church gave us a CD of the VBS music. Even my toddler knows those songs from hearing them in the car.

That same church gave us a great picture of our son with his VBS friends, leaders, and a festive backdrop as yet one more way to keep that memory alive.

Now I will comment on elements that weren't helpful in order to help you improve your VBS.

Candy and other junk food- really? Maybe it's a generational thing. Some might say it's socioeconomic. I feed my kids carrots, berries, nuts, seeds... One church really went over the top in sugaring up my little son. Please try to be sensitive in feeding kids. Fresh fruit, like banana halves, can be a healthy, convenient choice.

Noise- not necessary. One church had music so loud that our family stayed in the hallway when we attended the event on the last day. Our oldest son, and several other children, were given headsets to help block out the noise. Why did they make it so loud?

Hospitality- a must! Of course, there are a variety of folks, friendly and less friendly, in every fellowship, but, for the most part, encourage people to be hospitable. Last year my oldest attended a night VBS that seemed, to us, far away. We had a little one too. To us, it made sense to take our oldest, loiter with our little one, and then bring him home instead of making long trips back and forth. But there were challenges with that. We wanted to stay with our little one in the nursery, but we couldn't because we hadn't had background checks (This was at the church that was supporting our little church plant.). Anyway, I think that, if you see families, loitering, take that as a good sign and invite them in as much as possible.

I'm not sure how to word this next part. Basically what happened is that a VBS teacher was mean to my son. She said that he could come back if my husband stayed with him the whole time. So we did that. Unfortunately I have certain ideas about that church now because of one volunteer.

You can run a VBS. You can do backyard Bible clubs with Child Evangelism Fellowship. Here's what we're doing:

Our family bought a small bounce house. We inflate it and the neighborhood children come. We give snacks and Christian children's books like I Can Follow Jesus. We pray with them, sing, share Bible verses and stories, and give Jesus stuff like John 3:16 pencils from the Oriental Trading Company. May God be glorified.

I hope that helps!

In Jesus,