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Setting Goals For Vacation Bible School
By: Peg Arnold

Vacation Bible School is more than a few days of fun for kids and more than a week of Bible stories and crafts, games and snacks, singing, laughter, and lots of fun. VBS can be an effective outreach ministry of your church.

Meaningful, Effective Ministry
VBS offers your church the opportunity for exciting, meaningful ministry. Using your Bible and fun, creative activities, you can make an eternal difference in the lives of students. Some may come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Many will learn to love God more and, as a result, will grow in their desire to obey and serve Him.

You can have the opportunity to introduce a child to the God who created the universe and loves each of us. You can challenge young people to joyfully choose to love, obey, and serve God. Discovering God's love is a life-changing experience, an adventure with eternal impact.

Knowing that time and money are limited, churches evaluate each potential program. Today's busy people want to know, "Where can I effectively invest my life?" They want to invest their time in effective ministry that will make a difference in the lives of real people. Your VBS can be a ministry with a mission—a mission to reach out and change lives.

Three Keys to Successful Ministry
1. Setting goals is one key to a successful Vacation Bible School.
It is hard to have a successful VBS if you don't know what you are trying to accomplish. Take time to pray and set goals. Ask how this ministry will glorify God and touch lives for Him. How does VBS contribute to meeting the goals of your church? What materials and methods will best help us meet your goals?

Once you know your goals, you can evaluate VBS programs and choose the one that will best help you accomplish them. Seven common goals are:

* Putting on an exciting VBS program that will attract young people to VBS
* Presenting solid Bible content
* Presenting the gospel
* Leading children into a relationship with God
* Encouraging Christian growth
* Reaching the families of the young people who attend
* Training church workers

2. Another key to a successful VBS is to keep the goals before your workers and the church.
Don't keep your goals a secret. Write your goals down and display them. Keep your church people informed so they can participate in prayer, planning, and preparation for a successful VBS that will meet the unique goals of your church. Pray together that God will prepare your students' hearts and work in them in a life-changing way.

VBS workers are faced with a continuous series of choices. Remembering your VBS goals will affect their decisions. For example, "During snack time, will I talk with a student about our loving God who can and does transform lives? Oh, yes. One of our goals is that lives would be changed and that students would develop a correct relationship with God."

Another decision might be, "In the minutes before VBS begins, will I chat with other workers and good friends from church? Or will I make a point of getting to know some of the parents who are dropping their kids off for VBS?" If one of your VBS goals is to reach the families (not just the VBS children), familiarity with your goals will guide that decision.

3. Once you have established your goals, you need a strategy for accomplishing them.
This is the third key to a successful VBS. For example, if reaching out to families and inviting them into the church is one of your goals, develop a strategy for making visitors feel at home.

Few families are brave enough to show up at the front door on the Sunday after VBS with no idea where each member of the family should go. Brainstorm for ways to make visitors feel welcome. In a conspicuous place, post a map of your church with classrooms labeled according to age level and showing the location of restrooms. Be sure students know where they would go if they came back on a Sunday. Have lots of friendly greeters in place to help visitors.

VBS is not a stand-alone program. When the exciting days of VBS are over, one church goal is still to reach neighborhood families. People are more likely to return to your church if they know someone there.

Invite all your VBS families for an all-church picnic shortly after the close of VBS. In your Sunday School classes, remind the church family that the goal of this picnic is to interest families in attending your church. This is an opportunity for interacting with guests as well as fellowshipping among yourselves.

Encourage your church families to begin friendships with VBS families. Encourage VBS workers to team up with one or two other families and plan an informal get together with a VBS family. Have a backyard barbecue, go out for ice cream, or go to the zoo or to a ball game—whatever your family enjoys doing. VBS can be a nonthreatening way to introduce people in your area to your church and its ministries.

Relationships can begin with families and continue to grow after VBS is over, helping meet your church's goal of drawing local families into the church.

When VBS is over, your set of goals can help you evaluate your VBS and plan for next year. As you pray and plan and work, God will be glorified!

Peg Arnold is VBS editor for Regular Baptist Press, www.RegularBaptistPress.org.

Product Roundup

High Seas Expedition from Group Publishing
Climb aboard the voyage of a lifetime! Set sail and take your community on an exciting High Seas adventure! Feel sea spray on your face as sails snap overhead. You and your crew will plunge through rugged waves—and experience the deep, rolling waters of God's love. Easy to decorate, easy to steer, and easily the best time you'll have all summer. God's Word is your guide and the Lord is your compass! Each day during this high-action adventure, your kids will experience a surge of surprising Bible truths in a multi-sensory way.

Let's Build an Ark from Kremer Publications
With a course title like Let's Build an Ark, it is obvious that during the five sessions, the children will be taught the account of the great flood and Noah and the ark. Each consecutive day, the students will progress further through the story of the flood. Along with each day's story of the flood, there will be a parallel story from the Bible that reinforces the day's theme. A big part of this curriculum is to give the students an opportunity to work together in building a fabulous ark model. 

Saddle Ridge Ranch from Lifeway
Saddle Ridge Ranch is the 2010 Vacation Bible School destination where participants will be roundin' up questions and drivin' home answers. Set among snowcapped peaks and wide open spaces, the Bible study focus will be on questions real kids ask: "Who am I? Does God care about me? What is God's plan for me? How can I be like Jesus? What do I do now?"At the end of the day, they'll discover that God's Word has all the answers.

Cokesbury's Galactic Blast
At Cokesbury's Galactic Blast Vacation Bible School 2010, your cadets will voyage into outer space praising God. Through daily missions, your kids will see space like never before, gain a new perspective on our planet Earth, and learn easy "green" earth tips they can practice at home. This cosmic combination of faith and fun will have your cadets developing a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Gospel Light's SonQuest Rainforest
This summer, bring your kids to SonQuest Rainforest VBS—an experience of discovery they'll never forget! Based on five key Bible verses that will change a child's life—including John 3:16—SonQuest Rainforest VBS transports young minds into a vivid rainforest environment of jungle sounds, sights and smells, where they'll dig into the Bible and meet Jesus in every day's story. Five Bible verses, five days of discovery, and an experience that can last a lifetime, this VBS will bring your kids closer to Jesus, every day.

Concordia's Planet Zoom
CPH's 2010 Vacation Bible School is a whole new world! It empowers children to play a big part in God's church by connecting them with the hive that's alive with Jesus' love. And, it shares new perspective and encourages even the littlest bee-lievers to make a big difference in God's big world. With lessons and Bible stories that help kids encounter Jesus every day, Planet Zoom makes lasting impressions on children and their families, especially as they begin to understand the depth of Jesus' love.

Hero HeadQuarters from Standard Publishing
At Hero HeadQuarters, kids will meet five unlikely Bible heroes who are often overlooked. In fact, we don't know a single one of their names! They were not famous leaders or called by God to perform amazing miracles—yet their small acts were used by God to do wonderful things! Help kids discover that if they're willing to be used by God in any situation, no matter how big or small, they can make a difference. With God's power at work, they can be heroes right where they are!

Baobab Blast from Ausburg Fortress
Baobab Blast is an open invitation to be a part of God's Great Get-Together. Set under the impressive baobab tree, kids will have the opportunity to hear the Word, be amazed at God's wildlife creations, and be a part of a supportive community. This will be a life-changing experience for your kids as you gather together as a community and grow in faith. As the sun rises and sets on the savannah, so, too, will faith and relationships grow as kids explore connections with God, family, friends, and others around the world.

SeaQuest from Regular Baptist Press
SeaQuest: Diving for God's Treasure from Regular Baptist Press encourages students to dive into God's Word to find valuable treasure for their lives. As you pray, plan, and work, they can come to know the Savior and be challenged to treasure God and His Word and to give every part of their lives to Him in love and obedience. Students are challenged to give God first place in their lives and to use their God-given treasure of time, talents, and money to serve God.

Praise Party from Abingdon Press
Praise Party is a heritage-based Christian education curriculum that will have your community celebrating the saving grace of Jesus Christ with head, heart, hands, feet, and SOUL!! Through Bible study, crafts, skits, movement, contemporary music, and well-loved hymns and songs of the Black Church, Praise Party will create passionate worship that truly makes disciples for Jesus Christ. Praise Party Vacation Bible School 2010 features VBS activity centers that cater to all different learning styles.

Monster Mural
The Monster Mural specializes in painting (and coloring) activities for any type of event.  Whether it's a huge one-day community event, or an all-summer camp, or Vacation Bible School, or a semi-permanent installation in your daycare or hallway, they can help make it happen.  They have hundreds of stock mural themes to choose from, or they can draw brand-new illustrations to create a design especially for you. They make murals on several materials, from inexpensive Paper Murals to completely reusable and wall-mountable Wipeable Plastic Board. www.monstermural.com

God Rocks! Starlight Rescue VBS!
Kidology Inc. Starlight Rescue blasts off daily from Mission Control with a thrilling, interactive story that uses high-quality animation and fun drama to present the VBS theme "That you may become blameless and pure, children of God . . . (who) shine like stars in the universe." Philippians 2:15 (NIV) "Star Cadets" journey through six exciting stations focusing on the Star Point of the day. Fun activities, original music, and songs with action music videos teach kids how to shine like stars with God's love and power. Perfect for any size VBS, this innovative, site-based program is easy to use and includes a wealth of cutting-edge resources.

Guildcraft Arts & Crafts
Guildcraft Arts & Crafts is your source for VBS and Sunday School crafts. Each year, the company spends a great deal of time developing quality crafts for Vacation Bible School themes. Their exclusive VBS crafts are sure to mix in perfectly with your chosen theme and message. Guildcraft also offers crafts that relate to favorite Bible lessons, which are great for craft time in Sunday School and other church events. Guildcraft offers easy billing, a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, and hassle-free returns.

The Great Global Frontier from Walk by Faith Press
Global Cadets will cruise the cosmos in search of those lives changed forever by God's grace. Cadets will be missionaries in training as they become on mission for God; understanding the need for salvation and being challenged to take flight on The Great Global Frontier! Make your opening assemblies a snap with easy-to-lead skits that reinforce each session's point. The company now offers printed posters, pencils, name tags, certificates, and thank you cards to accompany.

Deep Sea Adventure from WordAction
Deep Sea Adventure leads kids into exploring the depth of Jesus' love. It is an extreme surfing, deep-diving, ocean-exploring, high seas adventure. They will learn from the Bible stories that Jesus makes an eternal life-changing difference in their lives. The most exciting thing about this VBS is that it's animated using a JibJab technique that really brings the characters to life. The daily drama sketches are all animated and are sure to grab the kids' attention.

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