For years my DH and I have been involved in planning Vacation Bible School events. VBS is a traditional summer outreach that not only gives children something to do during their summer vacation, but also is a great way to share Christ's love with them.
Since we have pastored small churches throughout our ministry, we have always faced off against the small church's mortal enemies - small or non-existent budgets and a small labor pool. Sometimes, even the facilities were lacking.
Still, our church members have always wanted to run some kind of summer outreach because it was important to them to minister to the children in the local community. We cannot compete with larger, more affluent churches, but we have learned to draw on the resources we have and "make it do or do without."
For the next several weeks on Wednesdays, I'd like to share some planning tools and ideas we've used for our VBS type events to spark your creativity to plan your own events.
Planning your own events from the foundation up has several advantages: Your VBS will be different from everyone else's event. Our experience has taught us that by planning our own events, we involve more of our church people, including those who do not usually help with children's ministry. They end up "owning" the event and caring about it because they put more of themselves into it. These VBS events have not only reached out to the kids, but have energized our adults as well!
Planning tip #1 Assess your resources to help you determine the type of outreach you can safely and successfully promote
A. Assess your human resources
- How many people can you count on to help?
- Are there others who don't usually participate but may help in specific areas if asked? (Often, people will not volunteer to teach, but if asked, they may lead games or prepare snacks, etc., especially if it is for a short term commitment like a day or a week.)
- What special skills or resources do the people in your church posses that may be used for an outreach? (carpenters. business owners, etc.)
- Prayer support for the event. Do you have people who will commit to pray for it?
B. Assess your facilities
- What kind of space do you have for an outreach? (sanctuary, large lot with pavilion, gymnasium-type room or fellowship hall) This will help you determine later what type of outreach you want to have and may even lend itself to a theme or type of activity you want to promote.
- Do you have any unusual facilities to create a unique outreach event? It will make your event uniquely yours! For instance - our church here has a wonderful, well-kept baseball field which would make a great outreach area for a baseball themed VBS program. Another church we pastored had a 62 acre wilderness area with a pavilion which lent itself to a day can\mp type of program.
- Assess the safety and usability of those facilities.
C. Assess your financial resources
- What kind of budget do you have for a VBS-type outreach? Don't be dismayed if you have little or none. If Jesus can take a little boy's five loaves and two fish and feed 5,000 + people, you will be able to reach out to the children in your community with a minuscule budget as long as it is prayerfully done.
- Honestly list your financial resources and prioritize the expenditures, like supplies, advertising, etc.
- Are there local businesses which can donate money or items? (You may find that this will be addressed again farther into the planning stages when you know exactly what you need)
D. Assess your program options
- A traditional VBS which requires a full complement of teachers and workers
- A modified VBS where you use a rotation system which requires fewer teachers but more support personnel
- A children's crusade where all the children remain in one area but the activities are fast paced
-Camp, Craft, Workshop type event where one particular skill is emphasized
- A week, two weeks or one day event.
-Indoor vs. outdoor
- Date and time for event
Here's your homework! Do a preliminary assessment of your resources. What do you have to work with - which will help you know the size and type of outreach you can plan. Then let me know what you've come up with. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join me next week as we discuss a Theme for your event.