VBS: Success means planning now


By Rev. Michelle Foster
Conference Staff


Here it is February and already we are talking about Vacation Bible School. It seems a bit crazy, don’t you think?


It is crazy until we consider the amount of preparation, planning and prayer that is needed to undergird a week of spiritual nurture and summer fun for those who will participate in your VBS this summer.


To help you and your church plan, I have provided some quick questions for you to consider. I also offer to you four thumbnail sketches of Vacation Bible School kits that are available for purchase.


Questions to consider:

• When and where will your VBS be held?

• Will it be held during the day or in the evening? What time frame?

• Will your church be partnering with another congregation or community center for VBS? Who will be invited to participate? (Church people only? Open to the community? Children only? All ages?)      

• Who in your congregation(s) will be leading this ministry? (Is it only one person or a team?)

• How will you engage in Safe Sanctuaries practices throughout VBS?


Options for VBS

Beach Party by Cokesbury — Summer just isn’t summer without the beach…and surfing! Picking up on this theme, Cokesbury’s VBS focuses on some of the lesser known stories of the Bible and incorporates them into the lives of children through creative exploration (beachcombing), games, storytelling, music and missions.


Points to consider:

• Easy theme to decorate and will easily generate lots of excitement

• Has an adult component that may stimulate family conversations

• Can be adapted for churches of all different sizes and configurations

• Set up in workshop format

• Music CD also has PowerPoint slides


Jerusalem Marketplace by Group Publishing — Travel back to bible times to see the way people lived, taste the food of the culture, explore new traditions, and unearth the talents of early artisans.  Written for preschoolers through adults, this Bible school is designed to bring everyone in the church and community together. 


Points to consider:

• Provides an educational component  for learners at all levels

• Could work well in partnership with other local churches

• Encourages participation by people of all ages

• Has an adult component that may stimulate conversations for families

• May take a bit more work and set-up than previous Bible schools

• Set up in a workshop format


Power Lab by Group Publishing — Using fun, science-themed experiments and opportunities for engagement, your children will be thrilled to be a part of this year’s Vacation Bible School. The delighted smiles...the memorable Bible points ... the joy of learning through hands-on activity all add up to making a life-long difference in the lives of your children.


Points to consider:

• Cultivates and nurtures a love for science

• Can be used in any size VBS

• Does not have an adult component or family piece

• Hands-on activities really engage students in the experiments


Walk It Out! by Cokesbury/Abingdon — Walking, marching and dancing have been crucial to gaining understanding, effecting change and moving forward in faith, in self, in community, and in God throughout our history.  Building on this rich heritage, children are invited to walk, march and dance their way through VBS. 


Points to consider:

• Has an adult component that may stimulate conversations for families 

• Makes a deep connection between social action and personal piety

• Music incorporates freedom songs and contemporary music

• Instructional music and movement video is available

• Encourages people to move from local church into local community


I would love to hear your stories of VBS and the creative ways you engage in ministry in your local community. Contact me at michelle@mississippi-umc.org or 601-354-0515 ext. 28.


Foster serves on the conference staff. Contact her at michelle@mississippi-umc.org.