WOW! I am still amazed, exhausted, and processing all that happened through our Vacation Bible School at Salem last week. VBS has been around… well, a REALLY long time. Our basic structure for VBS is relatively traditional. We hosted our VBS Monday thru Friday from 9am-noon. We had “Family Night” on Thursday evening from 6:00pm-8:30pm. It was an unbelievable week with record attendance and a record number of children responding to the gospel.
Here are a few of the lessons I am still reflecting on from VBS…
Prayer must be the priority! I know this seems like an obvious answer, but seriously, prayer must be the priority. We did several intentional things this year to mobilize more people to pray. (1) Following Easter, we began challenging people every week to pray for VBS. (2) Our Student Pastor volunteered to write a daily prayer guide for the week of VBS. We distributed this prayer guide to our church family. (3) The Sunday prior to VBS we made prayer cards with the name of each volunteer and pre-registered child (first name only) and challenged our church to pick up 2-3 cards to pray over throughout the week. (5) We had a prayer and commissioning service for those volunteering the Sunday evening prior. (6) Every morning at 8:30am our available volunteers gathered in the worship center to pray. We are discovering once again the power of prayer!
Volunteer training is essential! This year we offered multiple orientation and training opportunities. We challenged volunteers to attend one of these opportunities. These sessions provided an overview of the theme, basic schedule and rotations, and updates on changes we were making this year.
Get the word out by every means possible! We utilize every means we can and we will do even more next year. (1) We create invite cards for our church family to use to share about VBS. (2) Facebook advertising. (3) We sent info cards by mail to a zip code radius from our church location. (4) We went through the proper channels for our VBS info to be sent home in our four local elementary schools (by the way we feed teachers and serve the schools throughout the year). (5) Because our community, we have multiple 6’x9′ banners placed all around the area.
Trying new approaches is worth the risk! We tried numerous new things this year. (1) We changed the curriculum we have utilized for years because of the theme. (2) We instituted a car-line for drop off and pick up after Monday morning. (3) We changed our typical rotation schedule to allow more time for students in key areas. (4) We changed the way we register kids and keep track of them throughout the week with a color-coded wristband system by grade.
Be clear about the gospel! The combination of the theme and simple gospel presentation provided the platform for God to work in power. VBS is about sharing Jesus with children. There are thousands of details that can distract from that purpose. Don’t forget that Jesus is the ONE who rescues!
Celebrate God’s activity daily! Make it a point to notice how God is working and to celebrate it. Ask volunteers and kids alike how they are seeing God work.
Growth brings growing pains! We experienced a record number in VBS this year. And as I mentioned we tried new things. Growth always brings growing pains. As we reach more and more kids, there will be more and more adjustments we have to make. Growth maxes volunteers, the schedule, financial resources… Growth maxes everything! And not everyone will be excited about trying new things. And that is okay! However, we must be willing to press through the growing pains to see more and more come to know that Jesus rescues!
What am I missing? What other lessons are there from VBS?