By Cindy Sanders
It’s not too early to plan your VBS curriculum choices. Here’s what to look for.
Fast forward to the present: There are countless curriculum choices with themes ranging from biblical times such as Group Publishing’s Hometown Nazareth — Where Jesus was a Kid, to LifeWay Church Resource’s new product called Renew: The Green VBS — where VBS brings together the Bible and environmental stewardship.
These curricula encompass themes in all aspects from the Bible stories, multimedia, video and activities. Everything is specifically designed around the theme from the clip art to the snacks.
Vacation Bible School is a well-known term as a form of religious education which focuses on children and is usually held during the summer for four or five days. The development of VBS over the last 117 years has grown to reach every state and span the globe. VBS has touched the lives of millions of young people and adults. Why is it important and how can we assure that it is still relevant and still reaching children in your church?
Parents and children alike anticipate VBS schedules before school is out for the summer. Many boys and girls attend VBS at several churches around the area, regardless of a repeating theme or study. How can a simple plan be effective for reaching kids for Christ?
After a decision is made to purchase curriculum, make VBS unique to your church. Ask the following questions and think outside the box. Let God guide you to do something you have not attempted before:
- Should VBS be held during the day or in the evening?
- Do you have the facilities to adequately host the event or should you book a venue outside the church?
- If you do not have the facilities, what about several Neighborhood VBS locations?
Do not try to imitate other churches or to do things just because “they have always been done that way.” Be unique and creative. Brainstorm ideas to supplement the curriculum and add to the excitement.
Vacation Bible School should never be simply a “children’s activity.” It is a church-wide outreach event. Read the statistics — they speak for themselves! Staff members, church leaders and members should be involved as greeters, decision counselors, teachers and other volunteers. Make VBS an event that is announced in all areas and prayed over with diligence. Commission the VBS leaders and challenge members to invite non-churched children to attend.
You can have the best curriculum in the world, but unless you build a relationship with the children and share Jesus with them, they will not be able to accept Him as their best friend. VBS is not complete without sharing the plan of salvation with each child. Through each Bible story, game and activity, there should always be an underlying theme of the Gospel message. Give the boys and girls a chance to hear the Gospel plan and accept Jesus.
If possible, have the parents present, but if not, contact them and discuss the decision. If the child understands and is ready to take the next step of obedience in baptism, it is a special touch to have a baptism service during family day of VBS. If your church has an outside family night, you can baptize in a portable swimming pool. What a memory!
VBS is very different today but one thing has not changed — the desire to impact lives for Christ. Boys, girls, youth and adults have wonderful memories of summers spent learning about God while singing silly songs, getting “slimed” and eating a snack of locusts and honey. There can be no greater reward than seeing young people give their lives to Christ or to grow spiritually. Hey, I can’t wait until next summer!
Cindy Sanders is children’s consultant for Life Catalyst Consulting, Flower Mound, TX. www.lifecatalystconsulting.com
Why is VSB still important
Vacation Bible School is:
- The single largest outreach event for churches
- An ideal setting for a ministry because more people will be on the church campus during VBS than at any other time
- More people have come to know Jesus as Savior than any single church event
- 180,000 United States churches host VBS each year
- 52 percent of pastors who decided as kids to follow Jesus did so while at a children’s summer camp/VBS.
- 25 to 28 percent of all baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention are direct results of VBS.
Four curriculums lead the way for VBS
New Vacation Bible School curriculum is available beginning in January each year but the themes are announced the previous summer. The top four curriculums most likely seen on the shelves of any teacher’s supply or Christian book store are:
- Group Publishing
- Gospel Light
- LifeWay Church Resources
- Standard Publishing
There are many others designed to fit a church’s particular size and need. Each year in the January/February edition of Children’s Ministry magazine [ www.childrensministry.com ], there is a VBS Showcase previewing all available curriculums. The Christian Education Warehouse [ www.vbsstore.com ] is also a good place to observe available curriculum. Most publishers allow an examination of their VBS starter kits for 30 days before making a decision to purchase. — CS