Vacation Bible School is a great tool for engagement, learning about Jesus, and sharing the Gospel. It is a big undertaking to plan and put together a successful VBS.
Everyone falls into different places on the spectrum of preparing for VBS. Some people aren’t sure what they can do to prepare anymore at this point, some are raring and ready to go, and some are somewhere in the middle. It can be paralyzing to look at everything that needs to be done before you host your event. For the next several months, we will be walking through different tasks you can do to prepare for VBS each month and learning why those tasks are important. Let this introduction post serve as a sort of to-do list for each month. Then delve deeper into the tasks in upcoming posts. The goal of this post is not to tell you what to do but to offer suggestions and serve as an overview for your preparations! Let’s get started on our journey to plan Vacation Bible School!
Jump ahead to each month:
January: Familiarize and Visualize
If you haven’t already, order your starter kit and spend January reviewing the materials in the curriculum you ordered! Look through the starter kit, online helps, and catalogs to familiarize yourself with the themes and lessons that comprise the curriculum.
Read through the director guide carefully. Grab your pen, highlighter, and other note-taking materials and start writing out some notes on who you think you’d like to ask to fill roles. Consider your budget by highlighting supplies to buy or borrow. This will help your preparation process.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the content, visualizing where your VBS will be located is the next step. You may want to consider some alternative locations besides your church, such as a local school or outdoor park.
February: Prayers to Prepare
As you continue to work on visualizing what your VBS experience will look like, it is important to remember to be in prayer with the Lord about the process. Ask your pastor, perpetual volunteers, and your church’s prayer support system to pray for you and the VBS team regularly. Ask each prayer partner to pray for specific needs and the faith of your participants.
March: Promotion and Fundraising
As you enter spring, the planning will ramp up. This is when you’ll start needing to promote and fundraise for your Vacation Bible School. Fundraising often feels like an intimidating portion of the preparation. These days, there are many ways to make fundraising simple and successful, including crowdfunding sites. Promotional materials will be provided digitally with your starter kit to help.
April: Organize Registration; Plan Extra Events
In order to start each day at VBS smoothly and efficiently, consider utilizing online registration. As you inch even closer to the start of VBS, make sure you understand the power of your online registration tool is key.
You’ll also want to set up and prepare for events outside of VBS. These events are key to getting families of VBS participants excited and bringing them into the church.
May: Set Up Site Leaders for Success
The end of the school year is fast approaching during May, and so is the start of VBS. Start preparing your site leaders how to teach about Jesus. Communicating with your volunteers on plans and expectations is key. Some of your site leaders may not be teachers. Give them a crash course on how to instruct and how to extend when they feel they have finished teaching the lesson but there is still time remaining in the session. Teaching about Jesus can happen at any moment during VBS. It’s important to set your site leaders up for success.
June: Encourage VBS-Focused Energy
It’s not hard to build anticipation for VBS. But how do you keep that energy going throughout the actual week of VBS and beyond? We’ll dig into two ways to create and sustain that excitement and energy. The first way is by taking the time to thank and appreciate your volunteers. When the people who are leading feel like what they are doing has been noticed and impactful, they feel more ownership of the event. This leads to the involvement and development of leaders. The second way is aimed at participants. Find ways to continue building energy and enthusiasm in each moment, including transition times. Quickly learning your participants’ names and remembering their preferences goes a long way and can help them further enjoy being at church and VBS.
July: Create Useful Evaluation Criteria
In order to continually strive to improve VBS for your participants, it is important to evaluate what they and their guardians think of the event. But how do you write the right questions to get truthful answers? We’ll take a look at qualitative research guidelines and how to design evaluations.
August: Transition from VBS to Sunday School
Getting VBS participants to become Sunday School students is often one of the goals of VBS. Some of your VBS participants were likely attending because of an invite to the event. So, part of that transition is having a “VBS-like” Sunday School. Another part is being able to build rapport with your VBS participants’ parents. We’ll look at using up extra VBS supplies during Sunday School and ways to build relationships with families.
September: Inventory: Keep, Toss, Trade
This is the month to finally get to those things you tossed in a bin during your exhausted VBS clean-up, thinking, I’ll deal with this later. Well, now is later. Taking stock of what you can use next year, what needs to be tossed, and what decor can be traded between churches can help you to stay on top of VBS planning—even when there isn’t much to plan.
October: Write Out Your VBS Wish List
It’s always good to ask educators, “If money and time weren’t an issue, what would you like to see?” During October, write up a wish list of items, ideas, and events you wish you could include during VBS.
November: Create VBS Goals for Next Summer
What were the goals for your VBS this summer? Did you reach them? Goals are an important part of knowing if your event was successful. But creating measurable goals for ministry events can feel odd. Create goals that match your objectives for your next Vacation Bible School.
December: Review and Purchase VBS Starter Kits
December is a busy month, and VBS may seem super far away during the Christmas season. But it also happens to be the month that most VBS curriculum starts rolling out. And there are a lot of options for VBS curriculum. You want to make sure you and your volunteers are able to teach your participants about Jesus as easily as possible. But how do you quickly evaluate starter kits for biblical accuracy?
Learn what questions to ask of the curriculum to determine if your volunteers will be able to articulate answers when kids have questions about the curriculum.
God’s Living Water: Covered in Jesus’ Grace emphasizes the overflowing grace found in Christ and will help kids learn about the Bible during VBS and beyond!