VBS – Not Just for Kids!

VanCleave - new (1) LifeWay’s VBS provides resources for ALL ages. This year our church had a great experience tapping into this great family resource.

Adult VBS – For the five “night” services (two Sunday nights and three Wednesday nights) prior to kids VBS, we had adult VBS! This helped give all of our leaders a great biblical foundation as they prepared to teach.

Youth VBS – Our youth leaders used the Student VBS during a Friday night lock-in prior to the start of our kids VBS. The youth had a blast while they discovered the biblical truths that were part of this year’s study. Our youth help with VBS, so this also was a time to prepare them for their roles during VBS.

Kids and Preschool VBS – Our VBS runs Sunday through Thursday nights with a family celebration on Friday night. The adult and youth helped and, with so many involved, our attendance was great. We packed the house on Family Night.

Through the years we have used Student VBS for retreats, one-day-a-week Bible studies, or during traditional VBS times. We had used adult VBS as a Bible study during VBS for parents who bring their kids to VBS or for senior adults.

The resource offers so many possibilities. What are some ways you have used VBS for different age groups? We’d love to hear from you!!

6 Must Knows for Working With Teens

carol_editedVBS it’s not just for kids. LifeWay provides VBS curriculum for Babies–Adults. Student VBS can be an awesome way for your church to connect with and attract students. However, many people only view VBS as a kids ministry. If you church already has or is interested in promoting Student VBS, these 6 tips will help equip your leaders.

  1. Teens are searching for their identity. VBS provides a great opportunity to introduce teens to the best place to search for the answers they need. Instead of turning to friends, social media, TV, and other worldly advice, teach teens to dig deeper into what God’s Word has to say about their true identity.
  2. Relationships mean everything to teens. VBS provides an excellent platform for teens to build relationships with positive role models within the church as well as deepen their relationship with God.
  3. Teens are beginning to explore and question their belief system. Many teens oscillate between believing in God today and doubting that belief tomorrow. VBS provides a safe place for them to find the answers to some of their questions and help them learn how to defend their faith.
  4. Teens are very experiential. They need times to put their faith into action. VBS offers a time to focus on Missions and practical ideas for allowing teens to fulfill the need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
  5. Teens quickly jump from one topic to another and lose interest quickly if they are not engaged. VBS curriculum is intentionally written to help leaders transition between different types of activities to help keep teens engaged and on track.
  6. Teens are capable of and even desire the opportunity to lead. VBS provides opportunities for students to not only step up and lead in their own peer group, but they can also begin to lead and assist with the younger learners attending VBS.


D3: Discover, Decide, Defend

carol_editedMost of you reading this title for this blog post are probably thinking, “Wait a minute, where’s the Agency in D3?” No, I have not forgotten or even misprinted this title. D3 is the title for Student VBS in 2014. Yes, you read that correctly. LifeWay does have Student VBS curriculum, and in fact we have Adult VBS curriculum as well. That’s right, when we say we have you covered from birth to death, that includes VBS.  We not only want kids to know how to discover, decide, and defend their faith, we want to equip students and adults to do the same.

Students are pressured on all sides to accept what teachers, professors, peers, and sometimes even family tell them about Jesus. It’s time for them to discover the facts about who Jesus is, decide what they will do with the evidence they’ve gathered, and step out in faith to defend what they believe.

Student VBS can be held at the same time as your children’s VBS, as camp curriculum for Student Camp, Bible study for Sunday or Wednesday nights, or as a weekend retreat.

And if you are looking for a way to get Students excited about defending their faith, consider taking your students to see the movie God’s Not Dead that is releasing in the Spring of 2014. Watching the movie would be a great kickoff or follow-up to D3.

For those of you out there who already use Student VBS, we would love for you to share your advice, experiences, and ideas.

55 tips on youth VBS

Since most VBS events need the support of youth volunteers in order to function adequately, this topic proposed effective ideas for recruiting, training, managing and appreciating VBS youth volunteers.  It also includes some tips on pulling off a separate VBS for youth – This year’s VBS curriculum for youth from LifeWay is called Rock & Reef Tour.

1.  Youth assist with adult leaders. The youth pastor coordinates planned activities each day after VBS (i.e. – swimming, bowling, etc.)
2.  Ask youth to complete applications that include their life verse, if they could lead a child to Christ or not, and what they loved about VBS. It helped place them where they could be helpful.
3.  Have track times like at camp. Let them choose what they want to do during their rotations.
4.  Have nightly service trips for youth.
5.  Do “cool” crafts like tie dye and hemp necklaces. It keeps them coming back because it takes a few days to complete the project.
6.  Don’t assume youth don’t enjoy VBS – they do.
7.  Some youth are more responsible than others. Assign jobs appropriately.
8.  Enlist youth and college to perform skits in services to inform the entire church of VBS.
9.  Get Youth Pastor on board with VBS.
10.  Use You-tube and Facebook for VBS information.
11.  Train youth and give specific responsibilities.
12.  Use youth VBS for junior high. Only senior high school kids can be volunteers in our church.
13.  Call you youth VBS a week-long Bible Study or Bible Tour. That way, it doesn’t sound as juvenile as “VBS” and they will come.
14.  Invite youth the a VBS lock-in.
15.  Text youth for communication purposes.
16.  Let youth distribute flyers.
17.  Use youth to help with nursery – 6th grade.
18.  Have the youth pastor conduct Youth VBS on Wednesday nights.
19.  We had our high school football team come and do recreation one day.
20.  Our youth meet at church for lesson then go to a pool, fishing, etc. We do children in the morning and youth in the evening. Youth help in the morning VBS.
21.  Our youth volunteers are often moved around or “floated” as helpers in order to find their strengths.
22.  Youth MUST attend at least one planning meeting if they are going to help.
23.  Provide opportunities for youth such as child care prior to VBS and pay them through church budget to help pay for summer camps, etc.
24.  Limit the number of youth help in each room to one or two.
25.  Restrict cell phone usage during VBS.
26.  Have only one youth to assist a teacher to avoid the typical socializing instead of helping in the classroom.
27.  Prior to VBS, have a youth training day where they get a brief overview of each day of VBS (from the Youth Guide). Include lunch. All who participate get a youth t-shirt fore free to wear during VBS.
28.  Let the youth run the sound for Worship Rally.
29.  For the youth class our church, we do a “traveling class”. Over a week or weekend, the class goes to different destinations that go along with the lesson to have their Bible Study.
30.  Our preschool – 6th grade is conducted in the morning; 7th and 8th grade VBS is scheduled at night; and, 9th-12th grade on weekend, but off campus.
31.  Have the youth pastor meet with all the youth workers each morning for a 15 minute devotion.
32.  Use the youth for the Worship Rally team.
33.  Have a “select” group of youth that serve as team leaders. Youth VBS will begin on Wednesday following regular VBS and will meet throughout the summer.
34.  Recruit one youth to be the assistant to the Director. Young legs can run faster!
35.  Include youth in the mission projects included in their curriculum whether you host youth VBS or not.
36.  Train ALL youth just like the adults but just for them. They have the same responsibility as the adult, but with an adult.
37.  Youth lead on Thursday of VBS week.
38.  To get youth volunteer workers, the teachers decorate a table representing their grade and sign up teen volunteers at teen events. We call this the “VBS Job Fair”.
39.  Youth volunteer teach recreation. The kids love the youth and they are full of energy. Adult teachers supervise.
40.  Have a separate training for youth on “How to be a Volunteer”.
41.  Have the youth work the games in the curriculum.
42.  The 9th-12th graders prepare and teach the 7th and 8th grade VBS class with direction and guidance from adult leaders.
43.  Youth combine with other local church youth groups 1-2 nights duriang week for group Bible study and “game” (recreation). We play softball.
44.  Youth can be great help! Give them very specific jobs.
45.  We ask our youth to sign a “contract” which clearly states expectations (i.e.- no cell phones, dress code, staying with your group, etc.)
46.  Have a “VBS Boot Camp” which is a one-half day training for students. Take them through some of the information from the week of VBS to prepare them for serving.
47.   For youth – offer no crafts, good snacks, messy games and off-site activities.
48.   Only the youth going on our mission trip will work VBS because they will conduct VBS while on the trip. They are trained already so they have a purpose for being there.
49.   Have the youth make up a song to a catchy tune. Use this song in a parade around the neighborhoods. Have youth sing it with the church band.
50.   We invite other youth pastors to come speak to our students.
51.   Our youth have their VBS class at a different location each night.
52.   Youth VBS at other locations saves space at the church, provides interaction between pastor and youth, and makes the youth feel important.
53.   Our youth are required to participate as VBS helpers in order to participate in their summer trips.
54.   Instead of recreation, our youth tackles a community project for the week. (i.e. – food bank project. They broke into teams and competed to see which could bring the high point foods that had been pre-determined. At the end, they were rewarded with a pizza party.
55.   Use youth as helpers with registration.

Add your tips and tricks for youth VBS in the comment section below!