by Kevin Litton
I love cookies.
Actually, I love cookie dough more. Once a cookie is baked, it is what it already is. However, the dough is carefully crafted with each delicious ingredient. The options are endless as to what else you may want to add or what cookie-cutter shape you want to make the cookie before baking.
I bet you didn’t realize cookie dough and VBS had so much in common. And no, I’m not talking about the snack rotation. When it comes to VBS, some churches write their own VBS material, but most purchase a kit. These kits contain tons of info in the director’s guide, but somehow it can still be difficult to make it fit your church. I like to view a VBS kit as the ingredients to the cookie dough. The ingredients to the kit have been carefully crafted, but the options are endless as to what else you may want to add (or take away), or what your final product may look like.
Every church is different. The people are different. Communities are different. Leaders are different. Facilities are different. Cultures are different. Even the time of day that you do your VBS may be different. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and make some changes to what’s provided in the kit. It’s allowed! Make it work for your church.
Webster defines ‘cookie-cutter’ (pun intended) as ‘marked by lack of originality or distinction.’ If you want your VBS to lack originality or distinction, then use the kit just as it is. You will likely find a lot of frustration. It wasn’t designed specifically for your church, so you will only get the results it can produce. Only you and your team can define why and how you craft your VBS. Therefore, it’s important to know your church’s vision in order to make sure this event, which uses so much of your resources, fits into that vision.
3 TIPS TO “MAKE IT YOURS”
- Schedule and Facilities: First, look at your VBS schedule and facilities. This will help shape everything else you do. I know, I know. Content and what you are teaching are most important, right? Actually, when it comes to “Making it Yours,” you’ve probably already decided on your content. Now, you need to know how much time you have to do the things you want to do. Don’t try to cram everything into the time you have. Know that some things may need to be cut out in order to fit your schedule. Then you can begin prioritizing the “ingredients” that you can include.
- Volunteer Strengths and Resources: Think through the strengths of your volunteers. Do you have great actors, singers, or people with a stage presence? If not, maybe you need to utilize some video segments. Don’t have the budget for lots of crafts, sets, or props? Be prepared to change up or replace some of the activities. Maybe your kit calls for a Parent Night or FX, but you don’t have the people or resources. Then maybe at the very least, you invite parents to stay for coffee and snacks after dropping their kids off while you or other volunteers take some time to spend with them. This would create a great opportunity to connect with parents from your church and community. Use the resources and people you do have creatively and wisely in order to “Make it Yours.” (If you haven’t decided which types of leaders you’ll need to serve this year, be sure to check out the VBS Planning Calendar for January for a helpful list!)
- The Message: If you plan far enough ahead, you’ll have time to read through the content and edit anything you think needs to be edited. Don’t get upset at the curriculum writers and start freaking out by bashing them on Twitter because the material on Day 2 only mentions Jesus 2.5 times. (It was really three, but it didn’t hit you until later that ‘Son of Man’ was referring to Jesus.) If you believe Jesus needs to be mentioned 2, 20, or 200 times, then edit it appropriately. I believe Hebrews 4:12 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 are 100% true, but be sure you are also cooperating with how kids learn best at every phase.
Making VBS yours can be a tough task–especially when it comes to appealing to the taste buds of all those involved. Just be sure to survey the ingredients in your kit, mix them up in a way that fits your context, and watch as God uses your efforts to reach many kids and families in your community. It may just be the best cookie your church has ever tasted!
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!
Kevin Litton was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama (Roll Tide!). He’s been involved in ministry for nearly 15 years and involved in Children’s ministry for over a decade. Kevin graduated from the University of South Alabama with a degree in Sport and Event Marketing, and he received a Masters in Discipleship and Family Ministry from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently serving as the Global Kid’s Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in Virginia. Kevin and his wife, Ashley, have three kids: Oliver, Isaac and Sydney.
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