I know, it is only September, but very soon Vacation Bible School will be upon a majority of churches. I publish this article every year and it yields tremendous results because everyone has a connection to Vacation Bible School (VBS) and everyone wants VBS to be a successful part of the congregation. From my experience, VBS does not start a the month before; to have a successful VBS the planning starts at least six months from the VBS date.
This is a post based on the planning and some of the logistics behind Vacation Bible School; this is not a doctrinal post. The ideas expressed in this article are mine and gained through my personal experience.
Take a moment and read the thoughts below. I would like to hear your feedback.
Several years ago, a close friend of mine and I were talking about the process of getting ready for VBS and I thought I might give some hints to get VBS done better each year. Remember, I am no VBS guru, but I have learned some vital necessities of getting VBS done well and it has nothing to do with me, but the people involved make it happen.
It used to be the preacher was the one “volunteered” to handle VBS, but the trend is changing and people are now more involved. So if this does not apply to you, pass this list along to someone else.
Here are Gallagher’s Rules for VBS:
- Start early – Don’t wait until two weeks before VBS to begin handing out the material and drafting teachers! This is possibly the second worst mistake you can make with VBS.
Here is the timeline I used for VBS:
- Six Months from VBS Start Date – First meeting to gather teachers, helpers, maintenance crew, snack people, and any other area needed.
- Five Months from VBS Start Date – Begin gathering material or ideas for material if your plan to create your own.
- Four Months from VBS Start Date – Begin sending postcards to family, friends, visitors, and even the congregation to remind them of the VBS date. Publicize the VBS date on the Internet.
- Three Months from VBS Start Date – Gather your decorating crew together and brainstorm for materials and ideas for decorations.
- Two Months (8 weeks) from VBS Start Date – Pass out material to the teachers and ask if they need anything and be sure to get it. Advertise VBS again in the community paper, direct mail, word of mouth, postcards, whatever it takes to get the word out. Be sure a sign is placed on the church property noting that VBS is coming.
- Six Weeks from VBS Start Date – Begin door-knocking opportunities and create posters to be passed out to the community bulletin boards in grocery stores, etc. Arrange for transportation of kids whose parents cannot bring them; begin now to get volunteers.
- Four Weeks from VBS Start Date – Gather every VBS member together and as if there is anything needed. Whatever is needed, get someone other than yourself to be responsible for getting it and delivering it.
- Three Weeks from VBS Start Date – The decorating team should be placing the final touches on the decorations and material. Also, more flyers need passed out and sent to each contact.
- Two Weeks from VBS Start Date – The teachers need to be asked if there is anything they need. Constant encouragement is needed because of their powerful role.
- One Week from VBS Start Date – Pray! The final touches need placed on VBS and the congregation needs to be regularly encouraged to be there.
- The Day of VBS – Drink Coffee, Jolt Cola, Mountain Dew and eat lots of Twinkies – you will need it!
Gallagher’s Notable VBS Techniques:
- Always encourage your VBS staff – Write them notes weekly, email them, call them and be there for them. Make sure they are taken care of, because they will take care of the children during the week.
- NEVER MICRO-MANAGE! – Now stand up and say it with me, “I WILL NOT MICRO-MANAGE VBS!”
- Involve Everyone – Make sure everyone in your congregation is involved in some way. Get those who like to talk on the phone to make phone calls inviting people, get the computer savvy to develop a web page for VBS, leave no one out. Get a new Christian to be an assistant and watch them grow.
- No Skimping on Snacks – Homemade snacks are always the best.
- Reward the reward–able – Make sure you reward the children for a job well done. Give Bibles to those who brought others, give good gifts to those who work hard.
- Acknowledge your staff each day – At each gathering thank, show appreciation and acknowledge the great qualities of your staff. Provide your staff with rewards as well.
Gallagher’s After VBS Techniques
- Food! – After VBS is over, have a meal for everyone who took part in VBS and thank them for all the work they have done.
- Review VBS! – Soon after VBS, but separate from the Appreciation Meal, have a VBS review. Be open and honest, let people voice opinions and discuss situations that could be improved and situations that are great. Bring the good and the improvable to the forefront of the discussions.
The techniques listed above is a brief look at the way VBS worked for me. As I said previously, this post is based on my experience, successes and failures with VBS planning. Much of this timeline and techniques were developed over several years of working with a great staff. I took these techniques and tweaked them over the years and saw a great increase in attendance and performance, but most of all the gospel being spread each year.
Remember — Start Early! and NEVER MICRO-MANAGE!
What would you add to the list?
Just some thoughts,