Choosing a VBS program can be like standing in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, with so many options in front of you that you don’t know where to start. Every year great publishers are offering more and more VBS programs, and information about them is at your fingertips. With a few clicks on the web, you can view videos, listen to music, get decorating ideas, and more. It’s great to have all this information available, but it can be overwhelming to figure out what to prioritize. Great music? Catchy theme? Solid teaching? Affordable materials?
In my role as National Director for eChurchDepot, I talk with church leaders every day, and many ask questions about VBS. Choosing the right VBS a big deal. But how do you choose the right VBS program for your church?
Let’s go back to the cereal aisle for a moment. The makers of Kix® cereal are onto something when they advertise their product as “Kid-Tested Mother Approved”®. Likewise, the top two things I think a VBS program should have are “Kid Appeal and Teacher Approval.” Let me explain:
What are kids looking for in a VBS? The fun!
Every VBS has its theme: the beach, the jungle, the future, the desert, etc. Instead of considering which decorations work best in your church, I think the first question to ask is, “Which theme will attract the most kids to our VBS?” If our purpose is to reach our children but also reach out into the community, we have to get inside the kids’ heads. How will they see this VBS?? Is it fun, does it create curiosity, does it let me be a kid, is it messy, crazy, and loud? Is it a theme that kids want to explore? When kids arrive on the first day of VBS, you want them to step into a unique world that your VBS has created. For the next 2-3 hours, you want them to experience fully the world of your VBS, with all its fun and creativity. Check out this video clip, where kids step out of their normal life and into the world of VBS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nod2-q-YLh4&list=UU79duPKj9pUjbAqAyMq1r9A&feature=c4-overview.
Creating a fun VBS that attracts kids can be pretty easy, and measuring your success is pretty easy too. If the kids love coming back each day and bring their friends, you know you’ve hit a home run.
What are you looking for in a Vacation Bible School program? The teaching!
You and your team invest a great deal in your VBS, well beyond the dollars and cents in the budget. You want to be sure it’s worth it, and that it’s successful. But what makes a successful VBS from your perspective? The purpose of VBS is to reach the kids, to lead them into a relationship with Jesus, and to help them to grow in the truth of his Word. You must evaluate each VBS program’s content: What is the theme of the week? What are the lessons about? Are they clearly based on the truth of God’s Word?
Then you need to ask how the topic and lessons will help both groups of kids at your VBS (those who know Christ and those who don’t) move forward in their walk of faith. You want a teaching focus that will help the kids in your church who know Christ to be challenged to grow closer to Him. You also want the teaching to reach into the lives of those kids who do not have a relationship with Jesus, to introduce them to his love and the relationship they can experience for life.
Choosing a VBS is a big decision. There are many other factors that can play into which Vacation Bible School you choose, but for me, I ask these two questions first: “Will this attract the kids?” and “What are we teaching?”