Run 7 Events That Will Help You Roll Out and Wrap Up Your VBS.
“Hang on Todd…. Are you suggesting that I run 7 different things in addition to Vacation Bible School this summer.” That is the response a friend of mine gave me when I talked with her about the premise for this blog post. I know. It sounds really crazy, but I want to show you how it may not actually be as weird as you think. Here are seven different event ideas to effectively roll out and then wrap up VBS at your church.
1. Pre-launch party
Listen. I like a party as much as the next person and I personally enjoy watching all of the ways that different individuals roll out all sorts of significant life events (gender reveal parties are my personal favorite.) This idea came from the concept of a big reveal. One of the greatest parts of the early planning process for me has always been the moment when I tell the leadership team what the theme will be for the year. This event is really simple. In either January, or February (you can do it later if you really want to admit that you are a slacker to the world haha!) you gather all of the leadership team working on the project at your house, or the church and throw a party. Games, food, corny cakes can all come into play. It is a great way to build trust and have fun with the group of people you will be spending a lot of time with over the next few months. One of the things you can do purchase three balloons and fill them with the color of confetti matching the theme color of the VBS. Staff members can pop the balloons simultaneously and it will be a blast…. Yes, the pun was intended. Again, this is a fun and simple idea to build morale and get VBS season off to a fast and fun start.
2. Launch Party for the Church
VBS is often the largest event occurring at a church besides Easter and Christmas, the entire year. Therefore, I have always found it appropriate to think through how to reveal to the church as a whole what the theme will be. This can be as keyed up, or down as you want it to be. A few years ago, I set up two inflatables and had games and food set up for a launch party for parents and folks within the church. We ended the night with a prayer walk in which families and church members walked through the church praying for the spaces where VBS would take place. It was a great way to involve the entire church in the process and create buy-in. However you do it, this is a great opportunity to announce VBS in style.
3. Recruiting Station
Probably the largest complaint, in general, I hear from churches is the fact that recruiting volunteers for VBS is even more of a chore than recruiting for Sunday morning experiences. However, I think there are really fun and effective ways of doing this that can prove incredibly valuable. Set up a spot in your church where from April, or May until the weekend before your VBS happens, folks know as the designated VBS recruiting station. I will spare you all of the jokes about, “Jesus needs YOU for Underwater VBS part 2.” However, you get the picture. Having a few first impressions volunteers who can run the sign up area each weekend during services gives people a focused place to know where they can sign up. If you advertise this correctly, it can be a great tool to gain valuable leads. Also, this cuts down on the headache that occurs when people walk up to you on Sunday mornings to tell you, verbally, that they want to sign up. This way, you have a spot to direct everyone to. The attendants can have all of the information about the different areas, time commitments, and theme at their fingertips to effectively be able to guide people to the correct spot. You can dress this up and make it a fun experience, or you can designate a volunteer to hang out near your check-in area with a clipboard. Whatever you decide, please email me pictures if you go all out on this area. That would make my day. Corny puns are much appreciated if incorporated into the design.
4. Planning Parties
As VBS draws closer, the inevitable “planning meetings” become a regular part of life. Whether they are on Monday nights, Sunday afternoons, or Saturday mornings at 9am (yes, I have heard of people doing this. They need prayer.) they still have to happen. This does not mean they have to be boring. I have found that when you turn these into team building opportunities, attendance is better, and ideas are more creative and buy-in follows. I have had success turning these meetings into game nights and pizza parties. When they are turned into an event rather than simply a meeting, they are just more fun. By the way, VBS is supposed to be fun, right?
5. VBS Mid-Week Prayer Party
This is something that I did several years ago and I have found this to be one of the greatest moments of the entire VBS week. Thursdays have been traditionally dubbed as the “commitment day” within Children’s Ministry. So, I announced to every leader as well as church staff that we would meet 15 minutes after VBS had ended on Wednesday. You could also do this if you have a commitment day on Friday as well. You could just switch this gathering to Thursday. What we did, then, when we gathered was opened up the time with prayer and leaders sharing different “wins” that had occurred during the week. We then released leaders and staff to travel from room to room where children will be gathering the next day to pray over the rooms. I asked them to pray for the Lord to allow children to be open to the message taught and for the leaders in the rooms to have the grace and ability to talk with children about faith. We had the leaders of the individual small groups gather at the end of this time and we laid hands on them and prayed for them. I found this to be an incredibly emotional time and something that was recounted as one of the best moments of the week. When we invite the Lord into these spaces, it helps people to refocus on what the real purpose of the entire week was, which was helping children to grow in their faith.
6. VBS After Party
This may be my favorite idea for how to celebrate and wrap up VBS. It can be scaled up, or down depending on budget and time you would like to allow. On either Saturday, or Sunday you could invite all of the leaders, every single person who served on set up, during the week, and tear down. You have them bring their spouses and children back to the church for food, games, a bonfire, and a time of fellowship. This is a wonderful time to wind down from the sprint that occurred during the week. Write cards to each leader thanking them. Give away zany awards for crazy things that happened during the week (if nothing crazy happened during the week, then you probably didn’t really host a VBS and you need to start planning one for next year) and show a sneak preview of the wrap up video that will air on Sunday. It is also a great time to invite your senior leader and others in to thank leaders and their families for the sacrifice they made during the week. Remember, the most important person in any room they walk into within your church will be your senior leader. This can be a fun, relaxing, end of the week event to help you show appreciation for the leaders who participated.
7. VBS Reunion
Yes. I am suggesting to host another event at the end of the summer, or at the beginning of the fall. I always like to point families toward the next thing they can participate in at the end of any event we run at the church. This can be a simple back to school backpack prayer event, a family fun night, a parent night out event, and pretty much anything else that would be fun to end the summer and kick off the fall.
If you have any other roll out event ideas, or ways to make VBS season the best time of the year, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, subscribe to the blog to never miss another post! You can also sign up to receive my monthly newsletter while you are at it. Fun things happen when you do that like hearing about podcast interviews early. Access to free stuff, and all sorts of other things. Just do it.