With Easter behind us, Children’s Ministry is gearing up for summer and thinking about Vacation Bible School.

As you begin to look for curriculum, think through volunteers and plan your event, here are a few tips to help your succeed.

1) Know Your Goal

Before you get buried in the details of VBS, take a few minutes and answer a few questions.

  • What is the purpose of our Vacation Bible School?
  • What do we hope to accomplish this year?
  • How can we connect our community in greater ways with this event?
  • How can we connect our efforts to the larger church vision?

The answers to these questions should help guide your decision making. Take some time and write the answers out so you can reference them as you plan. It will help you evaluate curriculum choices, how you connect kids and even how you promote in the community.

2) Know Your Budget

Since VBS attendance varies from year to year, it’s best to build your budget on a per child basis, rather than an event basis. That way you can scale your costs up or down based on registrations.  It will also help you know when you can dream big and when you need to reign it in and be practical.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with things. Just because the curriculum calls for something doesn’t mean it is the only way to do it. Look for options to make your budget work for you.

Crafts are a notorious budget buster. Taking a huge part of the VBS budget but getting thrown away at the end of the week. It’s a great area to save money by getting creative.

Don’t forget to include the cost of promotions and any community connection events you may include. A church in our area used to put 20% of the budget into a Family Event on Friday night, that connected the entire family with the church for longer term ministry.

3) Know Your Volunteers

Parents are most comfortable leaving their child when they know they will be safe.

This begins by knowing how many total volunteers you will need. Determine the ratio of volunteers to kids for each age group. Take the total number of volunteers needed and start inviting them to help. Consider “junior helper” who could help an older leader keep kids safe and under control.

You can also ensure volunteer and child safety by running appropriate background checks prior to VBS. If you aren’t sure what that entails you can check out our guidelines and ebook.

4) Know Your Community

Many families are looking for ways to keep their kids occupied through the summer. When you provide a safe, fun place to be, you open doors to connecting families who would not consider attending on a Sunday.

One of the keys to connecting with them is knowing about them, their needs, likes and dislikes. Some things to consider are…

  • Where do the families you want to reach spend time? (coffee shops, parks, community pools, yogurt shops, etc.)
  • How do they communicate with each other? (social media, text, etc.)
  • What time of day would work best for their kids to participate? (morning, afternoon, evening)
  • What else is going on in the community that might affect participation? (community events, summer camps, holidays, etc.)

5) Know Your Limits

VBS is a huge undertaking and will stretch you and your team. The effort is well worth it but it’s important to know your limits event before you start.

  • How many kids can we accomodate?
  • What ages can and can’t participate?
  • What are volunteers responsible for?
  • What is staff responsible for?
  • What is most important to be accomplished?
  • If we run out of time what can we leave unfinished?

6) Know What Worked

Many churches do Vacation Bible School every year. It’s a great opportunity to take what you learned this year and document it for future use. The idea is not to be critical, but to build on the success and learn from them.

Constructively look over the week with your team and determine what things you would consider a “win” and what items need work in the future.

Some questions to ask are…

  • Did we meet our stated goals?
  • Did we connect our community?
  • Did we engage kids and parents?
  • What did and didn’t work about the group times?
  • What did and didn’t work about the small group times?

Are there other areas you would include on this list? Any tips you have for others who are planning their VBS?