How to plan for VBS

January 24th, 2011

Planning is key to a successful Vacation Bible School, but even with the turnkey nauture of curriculum packages, the number of tasks can be overwhelming for the program director. Making a "to-do" list and completing tasks at the right time will help make life much easier. Here's a planning timetable that can be used by most churches with minimal adjustments.

Six tips to get you started:


  1. Begin with prayer. Pray as a church family for leaders to guide the children. Select a director to administer VBS. Decide on the best date to have VBS at your church, and begin planning 4 to 6 months before that date.
  2. Enlist leaders. Look for leaders who teach Sunday school, and ask parents of the children who will attend. The VBS director and church staff members enlist leaders to guide the children. Secure commitments from your core leaders, such as the Bible storyteller, craft leader, recreations leader, music leader, snack leader, preschool leader, assembly leader, mission leader, and a lead decorator.
  3. Evaluate your facility. Begin to map out the areas for the various rooms that will be needed. Create a map of the church and identify the location of each room and activity area that will be used for VBS.
  4. Establish your VBS budget. Evaluate your children’s Sunday school attendance and estimate the prospects that will be invited. Decide on an amount that the church can spend, based on the projected enrollment.
  5. Order the curriculum. Consult the director’s book as a guide to planning and preparing for VBS. Watch the preview DVD with the leaders who have already been enlisted.
  6. Create a timeline. Your "to-do" list must now be placed on a timeline. Having a timeline will let you know where you are in your planning and help you stay focused. Listed below are some suggestions, you take these and tailor them to your setting.

Three to Four Months Before VBS

Schedule leadership training.

Order VBS material. Have it available for the leaders at this first training session. Let your first training session include the entire VBS leadership team. Take time to share the Bible lessons, verses, and key daily learnings. Display examples of finished crafts. Listen to the VBS music, and teach one of the songs the children will learn. Sample a few snacks.

Set up follow-up training sessions. Provide scheduled opportunities for leaders to plan together in small groups. Provide childcare for the leaders so that effective planning time can be achieved.

Request donated craft materials. Post a list of materials that are needed for crafts.

Recruit a publicity team. Make everyone aware of the upcoming VBS. Make decisions to publicize VBS in your church and in your community. Remember that VBS is an outreach opportunity.

Begin VBS preregistration. Having the numbers in advance will help your church prepare for the children who will attend.

Two Months Before VBS

Continue to have planning meetings with a specific purpose and time for teaching teams to strategize.

Review the VBS supply list. Purchase materials, or ask for donations.

Begin your publicity campaign. Display VBS signs and banners in outdoor and indoor locations.

One Month Before VBS

Create a registration area in your church. Decorate this area so that families and leaders get excited about the upcoming event.

Make announcements to create interest in VBS. Involving a child in a scripted promotion can reinforce the point of the event.

Send out invitations through your Sunday school and publicize in your newsletter.

Plan a kickoff event for VBS.

Schedule a decorating day for volunteers to decorate the church. Use backdrops and designs for doors, hallways, and rooms.

One Week Before VBS

Make sure that all leaders have the necessary supplies that were requested.

Determine VBS registration procedures with the leadership.

Put finishing touches on decorating the church facility.

Set up a first-aid checkpoint.

During VBS

Keep records of attendance and offerings; evaluate supplies and staffing.

Conduct brief staff meetings before VBS for times of prayer and devotion. At the end of the day, meet with staff to evaluate feedback.

Make arrangements to send VBS crafts and supplies home.

Once VBS Is Over

Reach out to visitors by making phone calls or visits to families. Prepare an information packet to invite them to the other services and activities at your church.

Thank the leaders and the church family for their support. Share some of the stories that define the joy of VBS. Give thanks to God for blessing your VBS time.

excerpt from: It Worked For Us: Best Practices for Ministries to Children with Families edited by Judy Comstock. Copyright©2009 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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