Let’s Get ready for VBS Part 3

Choose your VBS model

Since manpower or lack of it seems to be a common problem for those of us in smaller churches, One of the things you must decide is the format you’d like for your VBS. Here are several formats with some pros and cons of each one to help you decide. If you’ve discovered other formats that work for you,I’d love to hear from you.

The traditional VBS

I remember this model from my childhood VBS experiences. The VBS lasted for 2 weeks with everyone meeting together for a short opening. Then we dismissed to our departments – Nursery, Kindergarten, Primary, Elementary, Teen and adults.

The church of my youth was laid out really well with  a large fellowship hall flanked by classrooms on either side. Downstairs, there were four departments – each one with one or more folding doors to divide up the classroom space. It was one of the best Christian education spaces I’ve ever seen.

There was at least one teacher and helper(s) for each age group to do the lesson and crafts. Then we rotated with our classes to the music in the fellowship hall and the snack/playtime outside. Everyone met together at the end of the morning for awards and dismissal.

This was a great format  for my home church because it offered age appropriate lessons and ensured adequate supervision for the children in each age group.They also had plenty of space for this approach.

However, when my husband and I went into ministry, I quickly discovered that the smaller churches we pastored couldn’t handle this type of model for VBS – they didn’t have enough teachers and in most cases, they didn’t have the necessary facilities. So we had to get creative!

The Kids Crusade.

One of the things we tried over the years was to have a Kids Crusade. With a Kid’s Crusade, all of the boys and girls meet in an auditorium or sanctuary. They may be seated by ages or teams in order to facilitate the games and activities, Everything takes place in that one room so individual classroom space isn’t  an issue. Most church buildings have an adequate sanctuary.

If you have the financial resources to hire a team to come in for the week or two that you want to do your VBS, the crusade team will bring in all the supplies  like game supplies, props, prizes, etc. that you need for the entire event. Basically all you have to do is host the event and provide additional adults for “crowd control”.

The drawbacks to this type of ministry for D-I-Y-ers  is that the program must be high energy and fast moving with short segments of lesson materials interspersed with group games or contests. Before trying this format yourself, be sure to see a professional kids crusade ministry team in action. Note what works and what might not work for your own group.

Since all of the age groups meet  together,  you have to teach at a median age level so the littlest ones may miss the point of the lessons and the oldest ones may become bored.  Also, the little ones have very short attention spans which could lead to disruptive behavior if the segments are too long..The crusade format limits one on one interaction unless you have an adequate number of adult helpers who understand the behaviors of various age groups interspersed through the auditorium  to  fill in the gaps.

The Rotation Model

In a true rotation model, the children are divided into groups, usually according to age, and they are led to each area where a portion of the program will be presented.  You would need a specific classroom or designated area for each activity from the Bible lesson to crafts, to games and snacks, etc. 

You also need one teacher or leader for each area. Each group is headed by a captain or group leader who escorts the children to each area and serves as a helper for that activity.You may need more than one adult supervisor for each group depending on the size of that group.

We found one of the best models for our small church VBS events was a rotation model which combined some of the  elements of a kids crusade. The main emphasis or story time for the VBS worked well when we kept the entire group together (30-40 children) and then we split into groups to rotate to  the various activity centers.

The best thing to do is to assess your personnel resources, your building layout and your budget to see which one of these models will work for you. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different variations for the programs to find what model of VBS event works best for you..

Step 3 – Choose a Teaching model that fits your church resources.

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