by Rebekah Bullard
A few months ago, in a conversation with another ministry leader, I asked, “How does your church do VBS?” Her response caught me off guard. She said, “We don’t. I am not as brave as you.”
I was taken back because, in my experience, VBS was seen as a non-negotiable staple in our calendar planning. As I replayed this interaction in my mind, I put on my critical thinking hat to empathize with her thought process.
There are many reasons why she may have responded this way:
- Time and Resources
- Cost Investment
- “Asks” of People
- Buy In from Leadership
- Poor Past Experiences
- Ministry Burnout
Do any of those roadblocks hit home with you, too?
Vacation Bible School is a long time tradition in the church, and at one time the “bread and butter” of most children’s ministries. As the leaders in today’s churches, we are also chosen to steward the vision of ministry to kids and families by constantly evaluating the effectiveness of all the programming we do.
There is too much at stake in our ministries today to keep any event or program around just for the sake of having it.
#1. Establish the WHY.
What is your purpose? This will drive the best strategies and approaches to your planning and execution. Consider bringing a variety of people around you to help answer this question.
- Ask a Parent- “What value does it bring to your family?”
- Ask a Volunteer- “Why do you or would you serve at VBS?”
- Ask a Team Member- “What is the ‘ROI’ we hope to see?” – (Return on Investment)
- Ask your Pastor- “How can VBS bring momentum and engagement to the overall goal of the church?”
- Ask a Non-Attender in your Community- “Would VBS be something you would consider for your kids? Why or why not?
Articles like “Unpacking The How of the Decision-Making Process” help to create a better framework for decision-making as you do your homework for the highest level of impact.
Once you have decided that VBS is relevant to the emerging approach in which your church reaches your community, establish your Mission Statement.
Is your purpose to see the biggest outreach event in the community all year? Is it to engage new families to connect to the heart of your church? Is it to engage your kids into the heart of serving others? Is it to partner with parents? Is it to reach a new population in your community? Is it a “Builder Experience” for discipleship?
Whatever it is, put it somewhere you can see it and reference it often.
#2. Plan, Prepare and Assemble Through the Lens of the WHY.
Everything you do: marketing, staffing, programming, recruiting, engaging other ministries, purchasing, etc., should be communicated and viewed through the lens of your VBS purpose.
If you clarify the win, people will be inspired to serve out of the hope that they can make a difference in the story you are telling, rather than being disconnected from understanding how their gifts and sacrifice add to the mission.
You will be pleasantly surprised at how many more volunteers will wholeheartedly say, “yes,” to contributing to the event when you communicate the big picture vision of their specific area of impact. You will also give your team and other ministries something big to buy into for their investment. Other ministries might begin to see that VBS isn’t just babysitting with a craft and goldfish as a bonus. I think you will also find that your own attitude and heart will stay encouraged and engaged throughout the year as you personally invest and pray for the event through the lens of the mission.
#3. Evaluate Constantly.
At Cross Point, we often use the “SWOT” method to evaluate our events immediately afterwards. This helps us to constantly improve our strategies and effectiveness for the future. Consider hosting a “VBS Influencer Dinner” with a mixture of staff (even from other teams), parents, and volunteers. Invite them to bring their perspectives to the table with the goal of making it better.
Give everyone colorful post-its and dream BIG!
- Strengths – What Worked?
- Weakness – What Didn’t Work?
- Opportunities – What Was Missing?
- Threats – What is Still Unclear?
Hosting this leader dinner was a key component in our VBS experience this past year at Cross Point. If you host the dinner within a couple of weeks after VBS, not only will your influencers feel highly valued by your intentionality, you will also be a year ahead in your ideation while everything is still fresh on your mind.
Ministry Leaders— Is Vacation Bible School the best, most relevant way to accomplish the goals of YOUR ministry? If the answer is, “Yes,” then get started in the dreaming of your WHY! Trust that God will honor the intentionality and preparation of all you are asking Him to do in the future through VBS!
If you would like to read more from Rebekah, visit www.rebekahbullard.com.
Check out the BRAND NEW VBS offering from Orange for 2016 – WALK THIS WAY! Your kids will take a journey with Paul and ask the same questions he asked – making some incredible discoveries along the way!
Rebekah is the Kids Pastor of Cross Point Church Nashville, and she is passionate about empowering leaders and partnering with families to lead kids into a foundational relationship with Jesus. She is certain that there is nothing more important than seeing kids get excited about their faith in way that sticks with them in every season and milestone ahead. Rebekah believes the greatest asset we have to accomplish the mission of giving kids a lasting impression of Jesus, is volunteers who ensure kids feel known and parents who are committed to creating ministry in their homes right amongst their everyday. She has been married to Chris, her college sweetheart, for 10 years. They have one beautiful daughter, Gracie Ann.
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