4 approaches to VBS in light of COVID-19

April 22, 2020

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is one of the most impactful ministries in the life of many churches every year. Last year, more than 59,000 decisions for Christ were made by VBS participants, according to LifeWay. Based on that fact alone, the question we should be asking right now is “How will your church do VBS this year?” not “Will your church offer VBS this year?”

In light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, how we do VBS may look different and require some creativity and flexibility. But VBS is more important than ever to bring the gospel to a hurting, confused and anxious world. Here are some ways to help guide you as you prayerfully seek God’s direction in saying, “Yes to VBS” this summer.

Traditional VBS
If churches are able to gather again this summer, the “tried and true” approach to VBS can be adjusted to suit your needs. Consider changing your dates to later in the summer or even the fall. Minimize your decorations and schedules, if needed, to lower stress levels for volunteers. Look at different approaches for training your volunteers using video, livestreaming, conference calls or emails. Lastly, help families feel secure and safe in your VBS setting by communicating your sanitation and hygiene protocols.

Neighborhood VBS
If social distancing and smaller groups of people help your community feel safer, consider a neighborhood outdoor VBS. You can easily adapt your curriculum to reach a broader age group of children. Select your host homes or locations strategically throughout the community, and identify the best time of day and schedule for that location. Also, have a contingency plan in place for inclement weather. Make sure to have safety and sanitation procedures in place to help families have confidence in allowing their children to attend.

Alternative VBS
From its beginning, VBS has been designed to “go and tell” the gospel in a variety of sizes and environments. VBS doesn’t have to be a weeklong event or take place during a certain date on the calendar. Consider an alternative approach like offering VBS once a week, on a weekend, as a camp or even as a back-to-school kickoff event. You may need to break VBS into smaller groups, age-specific groups or a family-unit VBS to work with mandated limitations for group gatherings, if they are still. The options are limitless and exciting when considering VBS for your church and community. VBS can look many ways, but it’s sharing the same gospel truth.

At-Home VBS
If staying at home is the safest option, VBS can be done in every child’s home. There are many areas of service and connection in which your volunteers can engage effectively in this strategy. Have children register for your VBS so you can get curriculum to them either digitally, by drop off, pick up or regular mail. Identifying and promoting your virtual platform for VBS needs to include computer safety for minors. Keeping your volunteers in close contact with your families can be extremely valuable and will help maintain the connectivity that your families may need to carry out “at-home” VBS.

No matter how your VBS looks this summer, remember there is no right or wrong way. God’s message is concise and clear: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Get excited about VBS! Be creative, and be bold. Remember, God has chosen each one of you “for such a time as this.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: These four approaches have been summarized from a free e-book developed by LifeWay titled, “4 VBS Strategies for This Summer.” Download your copy by clicking here.


by Beth Whitman  / 
Vacation Bible School  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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