By Janelle Hoos
VBS is an important part of children’s ministry. It is an opportunity to reach out to the children in your community. It’s a chance to build relationships. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to share the gospel with children.
How do you choose a VBS that will help you do that? How do you evaluate the material available and choose the right one for your kids?
- Find the VBS Possibilities
In order to evaluate material, you have to find the material. There are so many companies that put out VBS programs, it can be overwhelming. It is important to look at a bunch in order to find the right one.
- Always Look First at the Daily Themes and Bible Story
There is a huge temptation when looking for VBS material to get lost in the theme. The theme is important. It’s the hook that draws kids in. It provides the backdrop for decorations and games and crafts, but it’s not the most important part of VBS.
The first thing to look at when choosing VBS material is always the daily themes and Bible story. Does this program teach Biblical truth? Does it teach the gospel? Is the gospel clearly, compellingly, accurately, and appropriately presented? Is the Bible significantly used?
- Look for a Cohesive Program
As a package, how well does the rest of the program support the gospel message? Is the theme continued in the games, crafts, and snack times? Are the crafts an opportunity for the kids to interact further with the Biblical theme? Will they be a reminder of what was taught? Are the games being played a chance for kids to have fun while interacting further with the Bible story or truth taught? Absolutely everything doesn’t have to be completely connected to the theme. Sometimes, the game is just for fun. But when you are evaluating VBS material, it’s important to look at how well the theme is used, highlighted, and developed in all the areas of the program.
- Choose a VBS Theme that Will Attract the Kids in your Community
A theme should attract the interest of the kids in your church and neighborhood and maintain that interest throughout the program. When looking at themes, consider popular trends and fads, as well as TV shows, movies, and video games that are currently capturing kids attention. Also, don’t neglect perennially popular themes. Look at what themes other churches in your area are using. Get inspiration from what is being offered. If there seems to be a theme that is being used by a number of churches, consider doing something different. When looking at VBS programs ask, “Is the theme one that would attract the attention of kids and parents in my community?”
- Choose a VBS Program That Fits the Size of Your Volunteer Base and Resources
Some VBS programs will look really appealing and exciting, but it just might not be possible to pull it off. Do you have the volunteers necessary to do that particular VBS really well? Do you have access to the resources necessary for this VBS program (game equipment, craft supplies and materials, decorations, and physical space)?
- Compare the Cost of the VBS Program to Your Budget
Can you afford to purchase the VBS material? Look at the basic material provided and look carefully at the extras. Do you need them? Will you need to come up with your own craft ideas if you choose not to purchase the materials provided. Also look carefully at the games, crafts, and snack suggestions. Even if you purchase materials yourself, will they be expensive? Look carefully at the budget you have for VBS and the cost of the program you want to purchase. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of craft supplies, game equipment, snack supplies, and decorations that you will need to purchase on top of the VBS program material.
- Music Is Important
If you are going to have music, make sure it’s good. Music can be a way to draw kids in and get them excited. Music is also a great way to develop the theme and teach Biblical truth. We remember what we sing. When VBS is done, it’s the songs that the kids will likely remember most, so make sure the songs sung are full of Biblical truth. Make sure they are fun, kid-friendly, and memorable. As the kids sing the music they learned at VBS, they should be singing Bible and gospel truths.
- Make Sure There Is Enough Material for a Considered Evaluation
There must be enough theme and Bible content to evaluate. Are you able to see the Bible point, Bible verse, and Bible story for each day? Do they offer samples of the Bible story? Are you given enough material to make a considered evaluation? If it’s not there to preview, don’t choose that program.
- Crafts/Games/Snack – Don’t Get Too Caught Up in This Section of the VBS Material
Games, crafts, and snack are an important part of VBS, and, if you are purchasing a program, then you want most of the work to be done for you already. Look at what is on offer for crafts, games, and snack. Make sure that you have the physical space and resources to use the ideas provided. But remember, it is easy to supplement crafts, games, and snack. Don’t let the fact that a VBS program doesn’t have games and snack provided to stop you from using it (especially if it has a particularly good Bible story section and gospel presentation). Crafts, games, and snack shouldn’t be the deal-breakers when choosing a VBS.
However, you need to look at the program as a whole. If you will have to change or supplement too much, then it is might not be worth purchasing the material, even if you love the theme.
Janelle Hoos is the author of The Well Equipped Volunteer Children’s Ministry Handbook: Everything You Need To Lead Children’s Ministry In Your Church. You can visit her online at www.wellequippedvolunteer.com.