Every summer for many churches a beloved part of programming takes place: Vacation Bible School. Children wait to learn the theme, parents are eager to drop them off for the week, and what about you? What about your leaders? It can either be the most exhausting or fulfilling week of the summer and much that will be up to how we plan, prepare, and construct a model that works. We have a choice to do things in a way where everyone plays a part and you facilitate or you do everything, feel resentful, and everyone else just stands there and watches you do too much! We don’t want that, we want you to love VBS just like the kids do!
You can set Vacation Bible School at your church up in a way that will be sustainable and poised for success. How great would it be if this year you were able to look around and enjoy kids making crafts, playing games and get to focus on what you do best: pastoring children and families, especially those who might be new and checking out your church.
Here are a few tips you can put into practice this year in order to build a sustainable VBS:
- Gather a great team. Connect with your children’s ministry leaders and ask for their help bringing together a great team. You don’t have to do all the asking. It’s great to involve others. Brainstorm together a pool of great people that might be possible team leads. Connect people with their passion and gifting, and you will watch volunteers thrive, not just survive the week.
- Create Job Descriptions. Clear and manageable expectations are always the way to set your team up for success. If you put together job descriptions for each volunteer job, you’ll find that you’ll do a lot less explaining and handing out tasks. Provide the clarity your team wants and needs.
- Get a head start. Stressful VBS seasons usually happen when we wait to the last minute to do everything. Plan with your team which parts you’ll accomplish, and set deadlines for each of you. Check in regularly about challenges and progress made.
- Get organized. Boxes of unopened supplies can feel like a daunting corner in your office or storage closet of things you “need to do” but never get to. Our advice: Open the boxes and pull things out and organize them accordingly. Using freestanding organization racks like this one, and then place laundry baskets on them to sort items per day labeling them: Monday Craft, Tuesday Craft, Wednesday Craft, etc. This way it keeps things nice and clear so your volunteers can get what they need and do their job with excellence.
- Invest your time. Try “investing” your time more than you spend it this year. When we spend our money or our time, we get something for it. You spend money to get a good meal or you spend time building a balloon arch for VBS. Investing is when you get greater gains later – a return on your money or your time. An hour spent training a volunteer will often generate five hours of great work later. Work you might have done yourself.
Vacation Bible School is an opportunity to immerse kids in the kingdom of God for a week of fun. You won’t get this much time with kids in your community and church community at almost any other season of the year. Pray for this week, put healthy models in place and enjoy the week with the kids and families! God does great things through VBS, and He is going use you as a part of his work, and doesn’t want you to feel burnt out and “used.”
Kristie has worked in Children’s and Family Ministry since the late 90s. Over the years she has served Malibu Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church of Newhall, and Bel Air Presbyterian Church and Forest Home. She is a popular speaker and writer who started her own company, Life to the Full, to bring fresh and exciting resources, training and interior design for churches and families. She now focuses her work on consulting for Ministry Architects, leading Life to the Full and writing and speaking for her blog and several other magazines, organizations and publications. Kristie graduated from the California State University of Northridge with a degree in Liberal Studies. After training to be a teacher, she felt led to use those gifts and skills to educate children and families in the local church setting.
Kristie lives in Calabasas, California with her husband David Christie (Yes, this Kristie Christie thing is no joke!) and their favorite black cocker spaniel, Frankie. They like to host friends for dinner, travel, take road trips and are suckers for great comedy because they love to laugh together. Her mission in life is this: “Daring to create a life of freedom, authenticity and connection.” Kristie has a passion to see all people grow and restore their relationships with each other and with God.