For Children’s Pastors, Vacation Bible School is like the Super Bowl; it’s your biggest event of the year and all eyes are on you. While there are several different types of VBS options for you and your church, the following are the most common mistakes made by churches as they put together their VBS game plan.
5. Follow the 6 Months Rule: Many churches wait way too long before planning out their VBS. As a rule of thumb, you should have your curriculum picked out and recruit your head volunteers 6 months before your VBS. If you wait too long, key volunteers might not be available to help because of vacation plans and decorations and supplies might be sold out. Most churches around the country pick from the same major VBS companies (Group, Standard, Lifeway and Gospel Light) and so I have seen critical supplies sell out during the summer months. I normally start working on VBS in January and set up monthly goals.
4. Picking the Wrong Week: Last year, our church did VBS on a week when 5 other local churches where having their VBS as well….and two of them where using the same theme as us. It’s extremely important to network with the local churches in your area and find out when they are planning on doing their VBS and what curriculum they are using. Remember the goal of VBS is to build the Kingdom of God and a city with churches working together who have spread out their VBS’ can reach more unchurch kids then a city with their churches competing with each other.
3. Letting the Teens Run Wild: Teenagers can either be the best volunteers you have or feel like another set of kids you have to watch. I’ve found that the key to having amazing teen volunteers is to have one adult leader assigned to oversee all the teen volunteers. We have special meetings just for our teens and we let them know that our kids really look up to them. We also place our teens in the role of group leaders, meaning they are each assigned one group of kids and spend the entire day with that group of kids, rather than being at the same station for the whole day.
2. No Buffer Time: No matter how amazing your leaders are, there always seems to be one group or station each year that can never send the kids out on time. If your first station ends at 9:30, makes sure you give yourself at least 5 minutes of buffer time and not start your next station till 9:35. Also, make sure that each station has everything ready for all their groups at the start of the day. 10 minutes of prep before the day can make all the difference between a smoothly operated VBS and one that has kids waiting several minutes before each station.
1. Don’t be an Island: You’ve spent weeks on Pinterest, you know the lesson plan like the back of your hand, and you have prayed for months for God to help you with VBS….but now it’s time to let others help. So much time goes into decorating your church in order to transform it into your theme and your bigger props can take you weeks to make on your own. Don’t do it all on your own, share your vision with your team and let them help. Most Children’s Pastors I know have a hard time of giving up control, but the truth is, you most likely have several talented volunteers that would love to help make decorations with you. If you give yourself 6 months to plan for your VBS, you can put together all your decorating plans and let your team pick which projects they would like to help you out with.