Vacation Bible School is more than a few days of fun for kids or a week of Bible stories and crafts, games and snacks, singing, laughter, and fun. VBS can be an effective outreach ministry.

Meaningful, Effective Ministry

VBS offers your church the opportunity for exciting, meaningful ministry. Using your Bible and fun, creative activities, you can make an eternal difference in the lives of students. Some may come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Many will learn to love God more and, as a result, will grow in their desire to obey and serve Him.

You can introduce a child to the God Who created the universe and loves each of us. You can challenge young people to joyfully choose to love, obey, and serve God. Discovering God’s love is a life-changing experience, an adventure with eternal impact.

Knowing that time and money are limited, church leaders evaluate each potential program. Today’s busy people want to invest their time in effective ministry that will make a difference in the lives of real people. Your VBS can be a ministry with a mission—a mission to reach out and change lives.

Three Keys to Successful Ministry

Set goals. It is hard to have a successful VBS if you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish. Take time to pray and set goals. Ask how a VBS ministry can glorify God and touch lives for Him. How does VBS contribute to meeting your church’s overall goals? What materials and methods will best help you meet your goals?

Once you know your VBS goals, you can evaluate VBS programs and choose the one that will best help you accomplish them. Seven common goals are

  • put on an exciting VBS program that will attract young people to VBS,
  • present solid Bible content,
  • present the gospel,
  • lead children into a relationship with God,
  • encourage Christian growth,
  • reach the families of the young people who attend, and
  • train church workers.

Communicate goals. Don’t keep your goals a secret. Write them down and display them. Keep your church family informed so they can participate in prayer, planning, and preparation for a successful VBS that will meet your church’s unique goals. Pray together that God will prepare your students’ hearts and work in them in a life-changing way.

VBS workers face a continuous series of choices. Remembering your VBS goals will affect their decisions. For example, “During snack time, will I talk with a student about our loving God, Who can and does transform lives? Oh, yes. One of our goals is to see lives changed and students develop a correct relationship with God.”

Another decision might be, “In the minutes before VBS begins, will I chat with other workers and good friends from church, or will I make a point of getting to know some of the parents who are dropping their kids off for VBS?” If one of your VBS goals is to reach the families (not just the VBS children), familiarity with your goals will guide that decision.

Develop a plan. Have a strategy for accomplishing your goals. For example, if reaching out to families and inviting them into the church is one of your goals, develop a strategy for making visitors feel at home.

Few families are brave enough to show up at the front door on the Sunday after VBS with no idea where each family member should go. Brainstorm ways to make visitors feel welcome. Post a map of your church with classrooms labeled according to age level and showing the location of restrooms. Be sure students know where they would go if they came back on a Sunday. Have lots of friendly greeters in place to help visitors.

VBS is not a stand-alone program. When the exciting days of VBS are over, one church goal is to still reach neighborhood families. People are more likely to return to your church if they know someone there.

Invite all your VBS families for an all-church picnic shortly after the close of VBS. Remind the church family that the goal of the picnic is to interest families in attending your church. This is an opportunity to interact with guests as well as fellowship among yourselves.

Encourage families in your church to begin friendships with VBS families. Urge VBS workers to team up with one or two other families and plan an informal get-together with a VBS family. Have a backyard barbecue, go out for ice cream, or go to the zoo or to a ball game—whatever your family enjoys doing. VBS can be a nonthreatening way to introduce people in your area to your church and its ministries.

Relationships can begin with families and continue to grow after VBS, helping meet your church’s goal of drawing local families into the church.

Finally, when VBS is over, your goals can help you evaluate your VBS and plan for next year. As you pray and plan and work, God will be glorified!

Peg Arnold is VBS creative manager for Regular Baptist Press.