In February, our focus is normally on the “V” word — Valentine’s Day. But our focus should be on another “V” word as well — Vacation Bible School (VBS).
VBS in 2020 was a hot mess. Do we? Don’t we? Can we? Should we? The truth is, VBS 2021 will likely cause us to ask some of the same questions, but at least we have more of a head start to think through and plan for what could happen.
Here are some things to consider when planning for VBS 2021 and most likely for VBS in years to come.
- Plan for option A, traditional in-person VBS, but simultaneously plan for options B and maybe C. These additional options may include neighborhood VBS or virtual VBS. Plan now so that you are not caught unprepared in the event last-minute changes are required. Also, set deadlines for your decision-making so that your volunteers are not left guessing about how to plan their work.
- Acknowledge that some parents will still be nervous about COVID-19, even if a vaccine has been given to the population attending your VBS. Have safety plans in place for cleaning, social distancing and wearing face coverings, and clearly communicate those plans to parents to alleviate their concerns.
- Plan for both in-person and virtual VBS. Add this to your decision-making criteria when choosing this year’s VBS curriculum. Does your VBS offer a virtual option? Is there virtual training available to leaders? What are the legalities of using the virtual options on your church’s website or streaming services? How easy is it to plan to deliver both options to your church and community?
- Make plans for smaller groups and consider rotating leaders to breakouts rather than rotating children. You may need to plan for more smaller classes to allow more distancing between children. This arrangement is a great idea at any time because it fosters easier relationship-building between leaders and children.
- Train your leaders either in-person or virtually. In his book, “It’s Worth It,” Landry Holmes writes,“for every one VBS leader who is trained there are 1.1 salvation decisions. Trained leaders are intentional leaders who point children to Christ in all they do at VBS.”
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will offer free online training for VBS leaders this year on April 20. LifeWay will also offer online training for a small cost to churches that use their VBS curriculum.
Remember, flexibility is key to the success of any children’s ministry effort, but especially this year. Rely on prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit in all of your decision-making.
Don’t think VBS can’t happen this year. With some creativity, teamwork and imagination, VBS can be one of the most powerful ministries of your church this year.
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