Vacation Bible School (VBS) season is upon us. With most kids now out of school, chances are you’re planning to host a VBS sometime in June or July. While you can still think clearly without the aid of pain medication and caffeine, you might want to bookmark this article to come back to during the post-VBS haze that will soon follow.
It’s 8 PM on Friday, and the last VBS kid has just been picked up—what a relief! After a week packed with kid’s songs, kid’s lessons, and kid’s crafts, you need to recuperate. Make sure you have these ten items in your VBS recovery kit:
1. Grown-up hat
An effective VBS program isn’t just a week-long event each year—it’s an extension of the church to grow the kingdom and create disciples. You’ve successfully reached the kids, but now it’s time to reach their entire families.
Whether it’s a sampling of the week’s events for them to observe or a family fun fair complete with bounce house and cotton candy, bring the parents out to engage with your church community. Show them you care about them and their kids.
Ok, this might sound like more work rather than a recovery item, but at least you’ll be interacting with adults—you can finally put away words like “boo boo” for a little while. Sure there will be hundreds of elementary schoolers running through the halls again, but at least now the parents will be there to wrangle their hyper kiddos.
Do your best to communicate this event to the parents early on. Send information home with kids during the week and pray it gets into the hands of their parents.
2. Follow-up blueprints
The parent interaction should not end with one event. Some families won’t even be able to attend a parent night. Hopefully you developed a long-term follow-up strategy to your VBS efforts during the initial planning—but if not, start right away. People will be most receptive within the first few weeks when the amazing program you’ve hosted is still fresh in their minds.
Send information about the church home with the kids on the last day. They may lose it before they get home, so follow up with an automated letter or email or some type of communication. Really focus on reaching those unchurched families and invite them to an upcoming service or event.
3. “Help wanted” signs
To accomplish all that follow-up with a long list of families, you’ll need to recruit some help. Segment and assign them to outreach-minded members or groups within your church. Then they can reach out individually and continue that follow-up process. It would be impossible for one person to dedicate the amount of time needed to each—don’t be afraid to ask for help!
4. Highlight video and photos
Look back on all the hard work—and fun—that was crammed into a crazy summer week. You can use a highlight video and photos to engage with your church community as well as the families of the unchurched kids. Post them on your website and social media accounts and use them to promote future VBS programs.
*Make sure if any photo or video shows children’s faces that you have written permission from their parents to use that content.
5. Staff report
After all the time and money the church invested in a VBS program, the staff is going to want to see some stats—how many kids attended, how many unchurched kids participated, how many made decisions for Christ. You will continue to see the impact of this program for months down the road, but an initial report can give your staff a great idea of how effective this ministry is.
6. Birth certificates
Not the kind you’d get in the hospital, but one to commemorate someone’s spiritual birthday! Send a keepsake to kids who made the decision to choose Christ while at your VBS. It will keep the kids excited and the parents informed of what happened that week.
7. Thank you’s
Just imagine how hectic that week of VBS would be each year without all those amazing volunteers! You may be getting paid to run the kid’s ministry, but so many people take time off of work or give up their regular routine to help make this possible. Consider all the volunteers who helped in the planning stages, created sets, taught lessons—each critical part of hosting a seamless VBS program.
Whether it’s a personalized email or hand-written card, find some way to thank all your people who sacrificed their time and energy for this effort. When they see that their hard work is appreciated, they’ll be more willing to volunteer again in the future.
8. Vacuum and Lysol
And cue the vacuuming of the 10 pounds of cookie crumbs and glitter that miraculously found its way deep into the carpet throughout the entire building. And Lysol—you had hundreds of little nosepickers running around your facility, touching everything for 5 days—does this even require any further explanation?
9. Tylenol and strong coffee
After listening to children fight and scream the words to Father Abraham for a week, you will probably have a migraine and intense episode of fatigue. As you get back into your regular work rhythm, Tylenol and a strong dark roast will be your friends.
Now that you’ve just got rid of the 500 screaming kids running amuck in your church, the last thing you want to do is think about doing it all again next year. But right now it’s still fresh in your mind. Evaluate what worked, note what strategies ultimately led to disaster, and brainstorm how you can put on an even better VBS next year.