Many churches tried to return to their full summer schedule last year, but 2022 may be the year it actually happens. And with the coming of summer also comes your church’s best opportunity to connect with the community. We say it often because it’s true. Vacation Bible School is the open door for evangelism for Illinois Baptist churches. It’s true across the denomination: 25% of all baptisms in the SBC occur because of VBS.
Why not prepare now?
IBSA offers regional clinics for VBS training in the spring, so pastors, directors, and teaching teams can preview the curriculum and plan to train the full team at church. But I would urge you to see this season as time to try something new in two key areas of VBS preparation.
First up: training. If your VBS team has attended a clinic, you’ve already received valuable instruction in this year’s curriculum. But what if you used this month to tackle some of the big issues that are bound to come up when you’re working with children and teens? When I was pastoring a church in southern Illinois, we planned training sessions in April and May to explore critical issues, including:
- Leading children to Christ
- Answering tough questions
- Classroom management
- Practicing appropriate classroom discipline
- Church policies and procedures, such as weather preparedness.
At those training sessions, we’d talk through the specific topic for 90 minutes, then use the remaining time for individual teams to plan together. Additionally, we set aside five consecutive Wednesday evenings leading up to VBS to work through the Bible curriculum together, so that by the time we were communicating biblical truth to kids, we’d already studied it ourselves.
The second area of opportunity is promotion. Now’s the time to think through how you’ll implement tried and true methods, like signage in the church yard, and other promo strategies, like social media posts. You can think even further outside the promo box.
Our southern Illinois church asked a local restaurant if we could advertise VBS on their paper placemats. They said yes. We also partnered with our local schools. Don’t assume schools in your area won’t be interested in helping. Many will. As the school year winds down, the local school may be your best way to let families know VBS is coming soon.
Budget for VBS promotion, and don’t be afraid to try something one year and something else the next. At our church, for every one thing we tried that worked, we tried two that didn’t. The goal is to think creatively and with your community in mind.
Summer is an exciting season of outreach, and VBS is an important component for many of our churches. Try something new this year–and enjoy it!
– Jack Lucas is IBSA’s leadership development director. JackLucas@IBSA.org