On a typical church calendar, the passage of Easter often signals the ramp up to summer activities—none more eagerly anticipated than Vacation Bible School.
But this is not a typical year, is it?
Church leaders are wisely reassessing their future plans and reprioritizing based on what is truly essential. But as programming needs and methods shift, one thing remains the same—people need to hear the good news of the gospel, perhaps now more than ever.
Vacation Bible School is the single largest evangelistic outreach of the year for nearly 75 percent of churches, according to LifeWay Research. It also consistently accounts for one-quarter of all baptisms among Southern Baptist Churches churches, and last summer directly resulted in 59,026 professions of faith! The impact of a single week of VBS is almost without parallel among regular church programming.
So is VBS worth doing this summer? Unequivocally, yes! Will it look the same as in years past? Probably not—but that’s OK.
Let me share four ways in which VBS can still happen in 2020. Each of these strategies is designed to help churches use their existing VBS curriculum to facilitate VBS creatively and safely this summer. We don’t know exactly what things will look like a few months from now.
When VBS rolls around, churches will likely be in different phases of reopening, depending upon their location and the recommendations of their state and local health authorities and government leaders. These four strategies will allow a church to put on a VBS that meets the COVID-19 requirements of their governing authorities.
Traditional VBS — This is the “VBS as usual” approach. For some areas of the country, VBS may be able to happen as it always has. It may get pushed back to an alternate date later in the summer, but VBS could still happen as planned. Churches might even experience record-breaking attendance as parents and kids alike are eager to get out of the house.
Neighborhood VBS — This approach utilizes church-member “hosts” in multiple neighborhoods throughout the community to conduct a small-scale VBS in their driveway, front porch, backyard, or cul-de-sac. This could be a great solution if only smaller groups of 10-20 are permissible.
Alternate VBS — This strategy allows churches to get creative with when VBS takes place. Instead of five consecutive days in a single week, VBS could take place over five consecutive weeks (e.g. Wednesday nights, Sunday nights, Saturdays), as a Parents Night Out, back-to-school kick-off, or over Labor Day weekend or Fall Break. This approach allows churches to still do VBS at church, but in a low-maintenance, low-prep manner.
VBS at HOME — This strategy relies on technology, flexibility, and parental involvement to deliver VBS directly to the home. Churches may post or livestream media-driven Worship Rallies to engage kids as viewers and utilize home delivery methods to equip parents to facilitate Bible study, rec, and crafts at home.
All four strategies are outlined in a new eBook from LifeWay, which is available as a free download at www.lifeway.com/4ways. It contains practical helps for churches looking to implement VBS in a post-COVID-19 landscape.
Although it will certainly look different this year, VBS is still worth doing! The opportunity it provides to share the gospel with a hurting world is too great to ignore. I’m looking forward to hearing the incredible stories that will come out of this VBS because I know God is going to use the hardships we’re experiencing now to draw people closer to him and to prepare their hearts to receive him.
Melita Thomas is the VBS specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources.