With so much uncertainty regarding COVID-19, we are unsure how long stay-at-home restrictions will remain in place. Such uncertainty makes scheduling Vacation Bible School (VBS) difficult. Even when the restrictions are relaxed or lifted, parents may not feel comfortable allowing their children to attend a ministry event in a large group.
Rather than abandoning VBS altogether, one approach your church could offer is an at-home strategy for VBS. This is a safe option but will require creativity to implement.
When considering an at-home approach, encourage your volunteers and staff to join you and brainstorm ways that best suit your church and community. Your volunteer staff is going to be crucial to the success of this approach to VBS. Preparation and maintaining contact with each of your families will be essential. Here are some things to keep in mind when conducting VBS at home.
Plan how and what you will be distributing to each child or family. Will it be a daily delivery or an all-inclusive pack for the entire program? Will you deliver the material by mail, drop items off at their home or have families pick them up at church? Will families need to sign up so you do not create too much material? Remember that good communication with your families can make this process much easier and reduce frustration. What a great place for a variety of volunteers to step in and partner with these families. The value of this contact will extend well beyond VBS.
You will need a registration program or tool where parents can register their children prior to VBS. KidEvent Pro by LifeWay is a useful tool that can ease the registration process. Once you have online registrations, it should be easy to ensure that each family has their VBS material. Communication by email, phone and social media will be important with conducting VBS at home.
VBS at-home packs can be supplemented with a virtual worship rally or Bible study lessons. Your crafts team can demonstrate how to make the craft while sharing the spiritual content. Your missions team can share the mission lesson virtually. Your snacks team can share how to prepare the day’s snack or even drop off a prepared or packaged snack when the curriculum is sent home. There are so many options to consider.
Risks and benefits
When you are doing VBS virtually, think through the risks and benefits. Make sure minors are protected online by requiring passwords to protected sites and by getting parental permissions. Be sure to obtain any licensing permissions necessary for music and videos to avoid copyright issues. Contact your curriculum company to acquire the links for these permissions. LifeWay’s free e-book, “4 VBS Strategies for This Summer,” includes information on copyright issues. Download a copy of the e-book by clicking here.
Keep it simple
Lastly, remember that parents have been utilizing online conferencing technology for work and helping their children connect virtually for school and church activities. By the time we get to VBS, families simply may be tired and “zoomed out.” Try to make it easy for them and provide support with each step. What a wonderful place for your volunteers to serve.
VBS is especially important in the life of your church and more importantly in the lives of new believers. It is a ministry that opens the door for thousands of decisions to be made to follow Jesus. With that in mind, an at-home approach is one way your church can say yes to VBS!
EDITOR’S NOTE: An at-home approach to VBS is one of four possible strategies suggested by LifeWay. The others are a neighborhood approach, an alternative approach and a traditional approach. These approaches are summarized in a free e-book titled “4 VBS Strategies for This Summer” that is available for download by clicking here.
by Beth Whitman / Vacation Bible School / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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