Vacation Bible School (VBS) is more than just a summer activity; it's a cornerstone of children's ministry, offering an opportunity for kids to learn about faith in a fun, engaging environment. Whether you're a seasoned VBS director or a first-time volunteer, organizing a successful program can feel overwhelming. That's why we've created this comprehensive guide to help you navigate every step of the process. From planning and promotion to curriculum selection and daily schedules, our all-in-one guide covers everything you need to know to create a memorable and impactful VBS experience for your community. Discover how to make your next Vacation Bible School the best one yet!

Featured VBS Theme: What a Mess! VBS

Sometimes Life Can Get A Little...MESSY!

The good news is, Jesus loves messy people! Whether you're 5, 45, or 105, we all have our own messes. "What a Mess! VBS" is about how Jesus deals with our messes—our sins, mistakes, and weaknesses. This year’s featured VBS theme covers exciting and relevant topics that align with our church’s goals and engage children in a fun, meaningful way.

Dive Into Your Comprehensive VBS Guide

Planning a VBS can feel overwhelming, but with the right guidance and resources you can make this a rewarding experience for your kids, volunteers, and church community. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate every aspect of organizing a successful VBS, from choosing the perfect theme to mobilizing your volunteer team.

Table Of Contents

      1. Choosing The Right VBS Theme
      2. Mobilizing Your VBS Team And Resources
      3. Creating A Successful Budget
      4. Effective VBS Advertising and Communication
      5. Creating An Inclusive Space For All

 

Choosing the Right VBS Theme

Is VBS Right for Your Ministry?

When choosing the right VBS curriculum for your church, it is essential to consider factors such as the theme, age group, and duration of the program to ensure it meets the needs of your congregation.

Questions to Ask

  • What dates and times would work best for your target audience?
  • When do the schools around you release for the summer?
  • Are there any other community events happening?
  • Do you have enough volunteers for live skits, worship, and teaching?
  • Do you need to buy pre-made supplies or can you make your own?
  • Do you need to buy pre-made décor or can you make your own?
  • How many kids would attend your VBS event?
  • What ages of kids do you want to attend? 
  • What’s a general schedule for each day? 
  • How much can we spend on this event?
  • Where do we want to host the event? 
  • Where is the best place to reach your community?

Trending VBS Themes

Explore the top VBS themes we recommend for their popularity and effectiveness in engaging kids

For a comprehensive overview of current themes, check out our blog post “VBS 2024 Themes - Top Vacation Bible School Themes (With Videos)”.

How to Pick Your VBS Curriculum

When picking out a Vacation Bible School curriculum, there are several key factors that children's pastors need to consider to ensure a successful summer program.

What to Look For

  • Uses Engaging Themes: Themes that capture the imagination and interest of children.
  • Provides Comprehensive Resources: Lesson plans, craft ideas, music, and multimedia resources.
  • Offers Flexible Scheduling: Options for different schedules, whether it's a week-long program or spread out over the summer.
  • Has a Strong Biblical Foundation: Lessons that are deeply rooted in scripture and biblical teachings.
  • Aligns with Church Values, Doctrines: Ensure the teachings are consistent with what kids are taught in your church to avoid confusion.
  • Presents the Gospel Clearly: Curriculum that presents the Gospel in an accessible way for children.
  • Inclusive and Accessible: All children should be able to participate regardless of any special needs or provisions. 
  • Facilitates Parental Involvement: This could include take-home materials, family activities, or suggestions for parents to reinforce the lessons at home.

What to Avoid

  • Complex Materials: Curriculums that are too complicated or difficult for volunteers to implement smoothly.
  • Outdated Content: Avoid curriculums that seem outdated or not in touch with modern children’s interests.
  • Heavy Administrative Load: Programs that require excessive preparation or administrative work, which can overwhelm volunteers.
  • One-Size-Fits-All: Curriculums that do not offer flexibility to tailor lessons to your specific group’s needs.

By keeping these factors in mind, you'll be well-equipped to choose a VBS curriculum that will create a memorable and meaningful experience for all the children involved! What specific themes or resources are you particularly interested in for your VBS program?

Adapting Your VBS Curriculum to Your Church’s Needs

Customize your VBS curriculum to suit different age groups, learning styles, and other needs specific to your community. Make your VBS fun and interactive with exciting games, uplifting music, and creative crafts.

VBS Games

Find games for all ages and themes to enhance your VBS curriculum. 


VBS Music

Download the summer’s trending worship songs.

VBS Crafts

Explore our blogs and Pinterest boards for craft ideas to delight and engage kids.

  

VBS Skits

Discover skits to engage your young audience.

Want to make VBS extra special for your kids? Use this FREE VBS Certificate of Completion template to celebrate your kids and their week learning about Jesus.

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Mobilizing Your VBS Team and Resources

Organizing a Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a significant endeavor that requires a dedicated team and efficient resources. A successfully mobilized team can make a huge difference between a smoothly run event … and a chaotic one. 

Here's how to effectively organize your VBS team and resources.

Roles and Volunteers

The first step in mobilizing your VBS team? Determine roles, and then recruit volunteers. A well-organized team is essential for ensuring that each aspect of the event is handled efficiently. Creating an Excel spreadsheet is a practical way to manage volunteers. You can use color codes to help team members quickly identify their roles and responsibilities.

If you’re not sure where to start finding engaged and helpful volunteers, read our blog “3 Fresh Ways to Recruit Volunteers” for inspiration.

Small Groups

Assigning volunteers to small groups is crucial. Kids need undivided attention, and small groups are a great way to provide that. These groups typically consist of a few children with a dedicated volunteer who guides them through various activities and lessons. Small group leaders need to be patient, nurturing, and capable of fostering a positive space.

Large Group

Large group activities are often the highlight of VBS, bringing together all kids for singing, storytelling, and other activities. Volunteers need to be energetic and charismatic, capable of maintaining the attention of a large group of children.

Speaking of activities, are you having trouble coming up with fun activities to occupy your VBS kids? Check out our blog post, “12 VBS Activities Your Kids Will Love” for 12 fun yet easy activities and games.

Team Leads

Appointing team leads for different needs ensures that each area operates smoothly. Team leads are responsible for overseeing volunteers, coordinating activities, and troubleshooting any issues that arise. They serve as the primary point of contact for their respective groups and activities.

Games and Crafts

Games and crafts are integral parts of the VBS experience. Volunteers should be creative, organized, and able to manage multiple children at once! Materials should be prepared in advance to ensure that activities are fun and safe.

Nurse’s Station

A nurse’s station is important for any health concerns or injuries that may (and probably will) occur. Volunteers with medical training or a background in healthcare should staff this area. It's crucial to have a well-stocked first aid kit and clear protocols for handling emergencies.

Check-in Team

The check-in team is the first point of contact for participants and their parents. Volunteers need to be friendly, efficient, and organized–the registration process needs to be smooth and welcoming! Volunteers will also need to manage attendance records and distribute any necessary materials for the day’s events.

Snack Prep

You can’t have VBS without snacks! Volunteers need to prepare and distribute snacks efficiently, ensuring that all children receive appropriate portions.

Remember to adhere to dietary restrictions and allergies!

Set Up/Tear Down Team

Finally, the setup and tear-down team is responsible for preparing the venue before VBS begins and taking things down afterward. This role requires volunteers who are physically capable and detail-oriented, ensuring that all equipment and materials are properly handled and stored. Depending on your event space, you may need your set up/tear down team every day or just at the start and end of the week. 

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Creating and Managing a Successful VBS Budget

Start by reviewing your church's overall budget: how much of the budget can you allocate to Vacation Bible School? Work with your pastor and church leadership to set clear financial goals. Break down the total amount into categories like supplies, decorations, and activities. Prioritize essential needs and research costs to create an accurate budget. 

It is good to also Include a contingency fund for unforeseen expenses to avoid financial strain.

If you find your budget is small and restricted, consider asking for donations from your congregation and use free online resources to minimize costs. Track your spending closely, and keep detailed records of all expenses. Compare actual spending against the budget regularly and adjust as necessary. Communicate with church leadership and volunteers about the budget plan to foster transparency and accountability.

To secure funding for VBS, explore various fundraising options:

  1. Church Budget Allocation: Request a specific VBS allocation from your church’s annual budget.
  2. Special Offerings: Organize offerings during services specifically for VBS.
  3. Fundraising Events: Plan events like bake sales or car washes.
  4. Sponsorships: Seek support from local businesses.
  5. Crowdfunding: Set up campaigns on platforms like GoFundMe.
  6. Grants: Apply for grants from foundations or community organizations.
  7. Donation Drives: Conduct drives for needed items within the church.
  8. Partnerships: Partner with local businesses for donations.
  9. Merchandise Sales: Sell VBS-themed items.
  10. Church Announcements: Regularly announce funding needs during services and in newsletters.

Manage the budget responsibly by outlining all projected expenses and categorizing them. Use budgeting software or even just spreadsheets to track expenses accurately. Assign a team to oversee the budget and schedule regular reviews. 

Remember to establish spending limits and require approval for significant purchases. Be sure to catalog all receipts for accurate record-keeping. Adjust the budget based on actual spending and changes in plans or priorities. Regularly report the budget status to church leadership and key stakeholders.

Transform Your Space: Decorating on a Church Budget

Have a small budget but still want to create a fun space for VBS? Get creative with budget-friendly decorating ideas. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Create a Checklist: Organize your decorations and supplies by event area to streamline setup and teardown.
  • Research: What Do You Already Have? Take inventory of existing supplies and identify what you still need.
  • Supply Drive: Engage your congregation in supporting the event by donating supplies.
  • Organization: Stockpile and organize supplies in designated sections for easy access.
  • Suggested Products

    Check out our Pinterest page for great VBS decor ideas, too!

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    Spread the Word: Effective VBS Advertising and Communication

    Promote your Vacation Bible School (VBS) early and effectively:

    1. Signs: Place vibrant signs in visible locations around your community to attract attention.
    2. Print Items: Use brochures, posters, and other print materials to provide detailed information.
    3. Social Media: Leverage platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach a wider audience quickly and cost-effectively.
    4. Sunday Announcements: Make regular announcements during church services to keep your congregation informed and excited. You can also hand out this FREE VBS invitation coloring page to kids on Sunday mornings as an easy way to spread the word. 
    5. Emails: Send out well-crafted email invitations and updates to your church mailing list.
    6. Local Newspaper Ads: Advertise in local newspapers to reach a broader, community-wide audience.
    7. Flyers at Local Restaurants and Gyms: Distribute flyers in popular local spots where families frequent.
    8. Local Mailers or Door Drop Off: Deliver invitations directly to homes in your neighborhood to ensure they reach potential attendees.
    9. Freebie: Include a VBS invitation coloring page for kids, which can double as an engaging promotional tool.

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    Create an Inclusive Safe Space for All

    Creating an inclusive and safe environment for all attendees involves conducting thorough background checks, implementing efficient drop-off and pick-up procedures, and ensuring first aid readiness. 

    Conflict resolution, safety drills, basic training for volunteers, and designated safe spaces with trained handlers are essential for maintaining a secure environment.

    Prepare Your Volunteers/Team Ahead of Time

    1. Hold training sessions and provide necessary resources to volunteers.
    2. Meet as a group to see how everyone is doing and to provide volunteers with a general overview of the event. Do a quick recap of what it means to be a kids' ministry volunteer here and walk them through emergency procedures and proper conduct.
    3. Have team leaders go over more depth with their teams about their duties, responsibilities, and expectations. 

    Supply Volunteers With What They Need to Succeed

    This is a team that most likely wants to have your back. Show them you have theirs. Equip volunteers with survival kits and hearty snacks to keep them energized.

    Volunteer survival kits can include:

    • Hand sanitizer, Band-aids, and other toiletries and first aid supplies
    • Craft supplies: paper, pens, markers, kid-safe scissors, etc. 
    • Line ropes, whistles, and other items to help keep kids organized
    • Water bottles and snacks

    In addition to snacks, budget for meals for your volunteers. A hangry volunteer is not a good volunteer. Even if it’s just a quick meal or fast food, make sure there is something substantial for your volunteers to eat either before or after the day’s events. 

    Finally, make sure to hold a meeting every day before the kids arrive. This is the perfect time to communicate any last-minute details or changes or to answer any questions your volunteers may have. You can also address issues that arose the previous day. End each meeting with a prayer.

    Suggested Volunteer Resources

    Make Sure Clear Signage Is Provided

    Provide clear signage to guide attendees and volunteers. Helpful signs to include are

    • Welcome signs with easy-to-follow directions for dropoff
    • Additional directional signs with arrows for kids and volunteers during transitions.
    • A visible sign at each area or station
    • Clear labels for volunteers
    • A “bathroom here” sign
    • A map for volunteers that includes where everything is located
    • A goodbye sign inviting them back on Sunday

    Create an Inclusive VBS for Those with Special Needs and Other Accommodations

    Make your VBS welcoming for children with special needs by preparing for their unique requirements.

    Accommodations

    • Safe spaces
    • Headphones for loud noises
    • Adequate volunteer support
    • Allergy awareness

    When possible, get as much information from parents ahead of the event. This will allow you to better prepare. 

    VBS Success: Real Stories from Churches and Communities

    Read inspiring testimonials from churches that have hosted successful VBS events.

    Castle Of Courage VBS - ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

    "Everyone from our kids to our volunteers loved this VBS. They enjoyed the lessons and the crafts. It was an easy VBS to put together and really make our own." - Jennifer.

    What A Mess VBS - ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

    "Our church used this for our VBS this year! It was the best year yet. Great songs and material." - Anna

    Castle Of Courage VBS - ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

    "The Castle of Courage VBS is great! Wonderful lessons and hilarious skits!" - Aimee P.

    FREE VBS Planning Guide - ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

    "I've read other documents on how to run a VBS and this is one of the best. It included very useful information on how to plan for a successful VBS!" - Aaron T.

     

    Explore more VBS resources and make your next VBS the best one yet!

    Explore More VBS Resources from CMD

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