As a kid, one thing I looked forward to during the summer was the week my church would have VBS, or Vacation Bible School. I always loved the different themes and helping my parents decorate the classrooms that they would be teaching in. Once I got older, however, VBS soon lost its appeal as I had to start helping the adults plan for the week. Therefore, this week we’re going to talk about some tips that I picked up from experiences of planning for Vacation Bible Schools of years past.
Tip 1: Decorations Are Nice, But…
Okay, so I know I just said that I enjoyed helping the adults decorate the classrooms for VBS as a kid, but once I got older, I realized that tons of decorations aren’t necessary. What I mean is that items such as themed posters with the week’s Bible verses on them serve a purpose, whereas a huge blow-up figurine that matches the theme doesn’t, other than looking pretty for the time being. In years past, I have seen adults so caught up in an effort to make the church look pretty that they end up spending over the allotted budget and focusing more on setting up/maintaining the decorations throughout the week than they do on teaching the students about God.
“And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
Consider the above verse when it mentions “the deceitfulness of riches”. If we spend more time decorating the church than preparing the lessons for VBS, then we are essentially “choking the word” just like the verse says, meaning that we are overlooking the most important aspect of VBS in favor of something that will only matter for the short term. So, to recap, decorations are nice as long as they don’t distract us from our main task of making God known to the students.
Tip 2: Let the Kids be Kids
One of the things I came to loathe the most about planning for VBS in the past was the fact that I started helping to plan for VBS and acted as an assistant teacher for some of the classes throughout the week when I was in middle school. The church I went to at the time was relatively small, and so the adults decided that instead of having middle school/high school classes, that the kids who were currently enrolled in youth group could help teach the other classes. This arrangement would not have been so bad, except for the fact that there was an adult class, which consisted of adults who regularly attended our church. Throughout those years, I came to think of VBS as a chore, mostly because I was stuck doing tasks like wrangling up disruptive kids or fetching craft supplies instead of participating in activities and learning more about God. In my opinion, the spiritually mature adults of the church should be responsible for all of the teaching roles throughout the week, and only attend the adult class if all teaching positions have been filled by others.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
Based my experiences, I don’t think that the majority of teenagers are mature enough spiritually to teach a class or take on a major leadership role for VBS, simply because a lot of times they are new Christians or have not really focused on God. Spiritually growth takes place when people are exposed to the word and love of God, and are able to learn from those experiences. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I was helping out with VBS instead of attending a class myself, the chore-like feeling drew me further away from God, and made me loathe coming back each day. In reality, I wasn’t even fit to help teach because my relationship with God wasn’t where it should have been. Therefore, I think that adults who are spiritually mature (have a good relationship with God) should teach the classes, and that churches should allow the youth to enjoy the week by learning about and growing closer to God.
Tip 3: Worship Rallies Are Not the Christian Equivalent of a Broadway Production
One of the worst experiences I had during the time that the youth group I attended helped with planning and putting VBS into action was preparing for the worship rallies every night. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the worship rallies as a kid, but once I got older, it became a youth group version of American Idol, acting as a showcase for the singers/dancers instead of a time of worship for God. During one of the last years I served on the VBS committee at my former church, the crowd of kids looked like a mosh pit as the kids in youth group shot small stuffed animals out of a t-shirt cannon into the audience, kids were running all over everywhere screaming, and God was pushed to the back-burner. Afterwards, the preacher offered words of praise for the performers, but spoke little about how God’s love was shown throughout the week. The entire thing seemed totally backwards in my mind.
“For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
One of the major teachings of Christianity is that we should humble ourselves before God and work to serve others. Contrarily, during events like VBS, our talents are often exalted and God is often left out in the process. The thing to remember here is that though VBS is meant to be fun and enjoyable, that God should be the center at all times. If we find ourselves boasting about our singing talents or allowing kids to run rampant through God’s house, stomping on pews and doing so without any acknowledgement of Him, then we need to reexamine why we are having VBS in the first place.
In essence, the main tip that I can provide is that we should actively seek to make God known during the week of VBS; all other aspects are vain. Focus primarily on promoting God’s love and teaching His word, and your VBS will surely be a success.
Goodnight and God bless!