Vacation Bible School is your church’s premier community outreach opportunity. When done right, VBS brings new families into your church, unifies your volunteer team and inspires your kids to grow in their faith. It’s a big responsibility, but the lasting benefits for your ministry are well worth it! If you’re wondering how to plan an amazing VBS, then you’ve come to the right place. This essential 20 step guide will set your children’s ministry up for VBS success.
We know your excited to dive in to the 20 steps, but here are three things to keep in mind as we get started. These principles will help you maximize your time and effort as we examine how to plan an amazing VBS.
1. Keep it Simple: In the end VBS is all about empowering your team to minister to your children. If the focus becomes all the flashy bells and whistles a VBS can easily drift off course. To make a lasting impact simplify your focus on the things that really matter: relationship building, teaching God’s Word and prayer.
2. Start Early: VBS is a big undertaking, don’t stress your team out by waiting until the last minute! As soon as you know you’ll be hosting a VBS start your planning. It’s never too early to start discussing VBS with kids, families and especially your volunteer team. Sooner is always better than later when considering how to plan an amazing VBS.
3. Take Notes: Make it habit to have a notebook with you at all times during the process of planning your VBS. As you plan this year’s VBS you’ll have ideas about next year: Things you’ll want to improve, adjust or stop doing altogether. Don’t lose these ideas, capture them while they are fresh in your mind! You’ll thank yourself next year.
How to Plan an Amazing VBS – Your Essential 20 Step Guide
1. Answer the Purpose Question: Start your Vacation Bible School planning by answering this question: Why does VBS matter? Or to put it another way: If VBS was cancelled how would your church miss out? If you can answer the purpose question with passion and clarity your ready to continue!
2. Pray Early & Often: Any guide on how to plan an amazing VBS must include prayer! The Bible tells us in Psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builder is wasted.” If your VBS is going to be successful you’ll need God’s help every step of the way. Seek God’s guidance in the planning, preparation and presentation of your Vacation Bible School.
3. Choose Your Leader: Because VBS is a big undertaking with many working parts strong leadership is essential. And while success depends on a team of volunteers, someone must keep this team unified, equipped and moving in the right direction. The right leader helps your team cross the VBS finish line victoriously. Or as John Maxwell says “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
4. Pick Your Date: Your VBS should be the premier event on the week it’s scheduled. Be aware of other events going on in your church and community. And, as much as possible, schedule your VBS so that it’s not in competition with other big events. Check with other churches to see when they’re hosting VBS and do your best to pick the best non-conflicting dates available.
5. Assemble Your Leadership Team: Picking the right leader is important, but VBS is not a one man or woman show! A good leadership team will help shoulder the weight of VBS by overseeing key areas that include: teachings, games, snacks, decoration, registration, promotion and media. A good leadership team will help communication stay clear and problems get solved. If your considering building a leadership team for your VBS then check out this fantastic article.
6. Review Last Year: As examine how to plan an amazing VBS for this year don’t forget to review last year. If possible gather last year’s team for a recap discussion. Welcome open communication and determine with your team the things that you want to stop, start and continue doing. A wise VBS leader will learn from the successes and failures of the previous year.
7. Set This Year’s Goals: If you don’t know where you’re going how will you ever get there? Setting goals is essential to the success of any event, particularly a marquee event like VBS. Your goals should directly connect to how you answered the purpose question. For example one of your purposes is community outreach, then one of your goals could be to have 20% of your attendance include kids that don’t go to your church. Visit this article 10 tips on writing church goals.
8. Pick Your Theme: How could we have a discussion about how to plan an amazing VBS and not talk about the theme? When picking your VBS make sure it’s bold and Biblical! A great VBS theme needs to capture children’s imagination and be centered around the gospel. A great example of this is God of Wonders, the brand new VBS program from Sharefaith Kids.
9. Choose Your VBS Curriculum: When choosing your VBS curriculum here are some important factors to consider:
- Theology: Look for curriculum that is gospel-centered and plays down doctrinal distinctions (this will make it more adaptable to your ministry environment).
- Media: Your VBS curriculum should include plenty eye-catching videos and graphics. These should include both promotional and presentation media.
- Ease of Use: VBS is always going to take a lot of work. But the more your curriculum is volunteer-friendly and simple to understand the more your team will engage!
- Price: VBS curriculum comes in a wide range of prices. One thing you always need to be on the lookout for is hidden costs like workbooks, teacher guides, activities, etc. If possible try and find an all-in-one VBS solution that fits your church’s budget.
10. Plan Your Budget: Developing a Sunday School budget is always a delicate balance. On the one hand, you need to cover the cost of your event, but you also need to keep costs down for families. Your VBS budget doesn’t have to choose between stewardship and ministry. Here are some ideas on how you can do both:
- Scholarship: Give your church body the opportunity to scholarship kids. People love giving directly to a need, and what is better than investing a life-changing week for a child.
- Subsidise: Pray over an ideal amount you would like to charge for VBS. If that number doesn’t cover all costs, go to your church leadership. See if they would be willing to invest a little of the church’s budget to bring the cost of VBS down for everyone.
11. Rally Your Congregation: Once you know your team and your theme share your VBS vision. As you lay out how to plan an amazing VBS don’t forget preventing the vision! It’s important that your presentation is more than justs dates and times. Be a passionate advocate of Vacation Bible School. Let your church family know how VBS changes lives and how they can get involved. Be sure and take this opportunity to enlist all prayer warriors to lift up your planning and preparation.
12. Recruit Your Volunteer Team: Always start recruiting your volunteers with a VBS dream team in mind. Try to recruit the best, not just the available! This team should include people who love Jesus, have great attitudes, are teachable and most of all LOVE KIDS! As you start talking to your dream team keep in mind their giftings and abilities. Do your best to assign them roles that match. Also, have background check ready to go. Having all volunteers submit a background check is an important step in making sure that you’ve done your due diligence to create a safe environment for kids
13. Train Your Team: Any discussion on how to plan an amazing VBS must include volunteer training. A lot goes into training your VBS volunteer team. But all good training includes two critical components:
- Inspire: Please don’t bore your volunteers to death through training! They get enough of that during their 9 to 5. Use your training time to inspire your team. Let them know how their efforts can change lives, tell them stories of victory from last year, and let them know the big things you’re praying for this year.
- Set expectations: Your team wants to know what you expect of them. If you give them a standard to shoot for often times they will surpass your wildest expectations. But if you let a team set their own expectations the ensuing dysfunction will likely surpass expectations as well.
If you are looking for further information on VBS training check out this article.
14. Promote Your Event: If you want your VBS to be a success then it needs to be promoted well. Search out a VBS that offers high-quality promotional materials that help the message of your event stand above competing noise. These resources should not only include physical resources like banners and posters, but also social media graphics and promotional videos as well.
15. Register your Families: As soon as possible get registration packets out to parents. These packets should include an overview of your VBS, a registration form, and a medical release form. Make sure that you have an organized system for recording all child information and keeping it confidential. Encourage parents to sign up early by providing an early registration discount.
16. Communicate Clearly & Consistently: Strong communication is crucial as your team discusses how to plan an amazing VBS. It critical that you clearly and consistently communicate with families about your VBS. Create an email list and keep parents in the loop about key deadlines, service opportunities and any changes to your event that have happened. Keeping parents in the dark and then sharing information last-minute is a great way frustrate families. But, if you go out of your way to keep parents in the loop you’ll be amazed at how much they’ll support you along the way.
17. Gather Your Supplies: As you plan out your VBS with your team create a detailed list of all the supplies you will need for games, decorations, crafts, and snacks. This is one of the areas that can cause a VBS budget to explode, but it is also a great opportunity for your church body to get involved. Let your congregation know the supplies you need and allow them to give directly to your needs. We’ve said it before but people love giving/donating directly to a need!
18. Decorate Your Space: Ideally, you want to transform your space into a wonder-filled world of Vacation Bible School. Your VBS theme should be seen everywhere and wow your children the moment they enter. Here are are some tips to help you achieve this goal.
- Graphics: If you VBS comes with videos and graphics orient your space around a large screen to display these.
- Decoration Party: Throw a party with a team of crafty and creative people to build various decorations that will bring your theme to life. Order pizza, bring some treats, and take an evening to transform your space into something amazing.
19. Dedicate Your VBS: In the final weeks leading up to Vacation Bible School bring your entire ministry team in front of your congregation and dedicate your VBS. Have your congregation pray that God would do an amazing thing in the lives of all who attend adults and children alike. Having your entire team come forward gives your church family a powerful visual of the scope of this amazing event.
20. Schedule Your Rehearsal: A dress rehearsal is the final step as we discuss how to plan an amazing VBS. In the week leading up to VBS schedule a rehearsal walkthrough with your entire VBS team. This walkthrough should give every team member a very clear picture of their role during the VBS week. Rehearsals are a great time to flesh out any kinks in your plan or bring to the surface any confusion that your team may have. It much better to catch these things in a walkthrough that in a room packed with rambunctious children.
After Your VBS is Over
1. Thank Every Volunteer: After the VBS whirlwind is over make a point to personally thank every volunteer. Your team wants to know that their contributions were noticed and meaningful. Try writing thank you cards in advance that you can hand out to volunteers on the final day of VBS. Also, consider incorporating a time into your VBS where students can write thank you cards to their leaders. A little thanks goes a long way!
2. Debrief with Your Team: In the week following VBS set a time to gather your leadership team to discuss how VBS went. Encourage them to openly share the good, bad and ugly. You want to hear this feedback while it’s fresh in everyone’s mind. Use this feedback to confirm the things you want to stop, start and continue next year.
3. Summarize Your Notes: Hopefully, you took notes throughout the planning and presentation of your VBS. After it over, review your notes and condense them down to the big ideas you’ll want to start with next year. The perfect time to do this is the week following VBS when your notes will still make sense!
God of Wonders VBS Curriculum
Plan an amazing VBS faster and easier than ever with Sharefaith Kids! Releasing Easter 2018, God of Wonders is an action-packed 5-day VBS adventure. Your kids will explore the exciting story of Moses while discovering the incredible power and purposes of God along the way. This all-in-one VBS is volunteer-friendly, kid-focused and gospel-centered. Get it 100% FREE when you join Sharefaith Kids today!