The summer months are the perfect time to reach out to your community and neighborhoods with the Gospel. The kids are out of school, and looking for fun to fill their days.
And the parents? Well, they are looking for a few hours of peace!
That’s why Vacation Bible School (VBS) and summer church camps are so popular during the summer. They’re a two-for-one deal really. The kids and parents get a break from their summer vacation, and the church and its members get the opportunity to reach families and children for Christ!
Every church is different, but my church runs over a hundred children a night during our Vacation Bible School week every summer. We don’t have a really large church, but we offer something many churches don’t – a free ride to VBS on the church bus! By reaching out to the families in surrounding neighborhoods and offering free transportation for their children, we are able to reach even more families.
To utilize your Vacation Bible School week as an outreach event, it takes so much more than just organizing a great week of fun, games, crafts, Bible lessons, and maybe even skits. Advertising your VBS in your community is key. Create and print out flyers to distribute in nearby neighborhoods, leave them on community bulletin boards, or even ask if you can hang them in neighborhood businesses. You’d be surprised how many business owners are willing to help!
While we’re on the topic of local businesses, let’s talk about funding your church’s VBS. Not every church has the funds to prepare for seventy-five children every night, maybe not even fifty. That’s where your local businesses can help you.
Many grocery stores will donate items for snacks and some stores will even donate a gift card that you can use to purchase craft supplies or decor items. Don’t be afraid to ask! Be professional and courteous and you’d be surprised how willing your community will be to help out. They recognize that your outreach event provides a safe and fun place for children to spend their summer days.
When it comes to VBS curriculum, fellow local churches may have previous year’s lessons that you could recycle for the current year at your church. We reuse our VBS curriculum often to help deter the cost of new lesson books, but keep it far enough apart in years that the kids never even know!
Last but not least, now that you’ve reached the children with the Gospel and taught them scripture and Bible stories throughout the week, don’t stop there!
At the end of every Vacation Bible School week, we have a special night called Family Night. We invite all the children and their parents, and recap the week with videos, and pictures. We also have the children perform the songs they learned, as well as recite their class verses that they’ve memorized. It’s the perfect time to award prizes from the week and announce the winner of our annual missions offering contest we have during the week.
Pitting the boys against the girls always offers up great fun and competition. Add the fact that one of the leaders gets a pie in the face if their team wins, and you’ve got the perfect motivator!
We also award prizes for the most memory verses recited during the week and class prizes for best behavior, etc. Giving away Bibles is also always a big hit with the attendees. The Gift & Award Bible from Tommy Nelson is perfect for this, and they have a Girls Edition and a Boys Edition!
After all the songs, prizes, and of course someone getting a pie in the face, we enjoy a fun meal together in the fellowship center with the kids and their families. This presents the perfect opportunity to invite them back for our next service and fellowship together as a community.
Vacation Bible School events are a lot of work, but so much fun… and the rewards are eternal! My youngest daughter accepted Christ as her Savior during one of our VBS weeks, and I will forever have a special place in my heart for VBS. The joy you bring to these children can be seen on their faces the entire week. What an amazing way to share God’s love with your community!
Does your church use Vacation Bible School as an outreach tool? What tips can you share for having a successful event? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!