One of the most effective ways to boost your Sunday school class attendance is to hold a Vacation Bible School during summer school break on your field of service. I say that because summer is not June, July, and August for all of us around the globe! For the next few weeks, I am going to share my experience in planning and executing a VBS program on the mission field. I pray these posts will be most helpful and encouraging to those of you who have been wanting to plan such an event in order to help grow your children's ministry.
My husband and I have been working in Russia for fourteen years. Just over seven years ago, we moved out to a village to begin a new ministry. After getting settled in a bit as a family, we secured a room in the local House of Culture to meet in for services. We immediately started a Sunday school class which met in the same room, just before the main service. Upon getting to to know a few families, we planned our first VBS program in 2007. Since that time, we have held week-long VBS programs each summer. God has blessed, and these programs have become a favorite summer activity for many of the village children!
|VBS Children and Workers - 2007|
|Very first day of our very first VBS 2007|
Months ahead of time:
1. Determine WHERE you will hold the VBS program - Ideally you should have several rooms inside a building (in case of rain) and a nice yard or open field outside for more active games and activities. IF you have a situation like ours to where you do not have a building available and must meet outside, don't forget to have some sort of tents or shelter in case of light rain.
2. Determine WHEN you will hold the VBS program - Planning the date requires much consideration. If you are in a smaller city or village, check with the school administration to find out their schedule so that you don't schedule a VBS program during the same hours of the school's day camp program times. Here in Russia the children also attend long summer camps. Often there will be a general date when most of the children leave for camp. Being aware of these dates helps you have more children in attendance and prevents them from missing either the beginning or ending of the program.
3. Determine HOW LONG the program will last (which days of the week and hours per day). We usually hold VBS on Monday through Friday from 11 am until 1 pm. If we have a daily craft time, we extend it until 2 pm. Speaking from personal experience, that is plenty of time! You may only be able to do three days a week. Whatever the case, do your best to ensure the best time frame for the most children to be able to attend. Also, remember you want to have a FULL schedule with little to no downtime. It is best to keep the children busy and not give them time to wander around because wandering results in a quick loss of control! Strict time frames help them stay busy, help the time pass quickly for them encouraging them to come back tomorrow, and help you maintain order.
4. Determine WHO (workers) will be involved. This is a big decision! You may not have anyone to help besides yourself (husband and wife); maybe you have several missionary families in the area, or maybe you have a few nationals to help out. Whoever you have as help, make sure the duties are distributed accordingly. A new missionary that has not yet learned the language will not feel comfortable leading the songs! Also, if you are helping another missionary and your job/s have been assigned to you, be sure to see them through to the end. If you volunteer to do something, do it! There is a balance that is necessary when working with other helpers in these type of programs. For one, people (nationals) are watching! They are watching the faces, personalities, expressions, body language, and interaction between the workers. They are watching how well the whole program is thought through and organized. They may not be able to pull something off like a VBS program, but they will sure be there to watch how you pull it off! Trust me, if you hold your VBS program outside, they will come to watch! That can be a good thing or a bad thing. The Lord can use a well-organized plan to help you win the hearts of your neighborhood, village, or city. The Devil can use a poorly organized program against you. Doing things 'decently and in order' (I Cor. 14:40) will be a huge benefit when you go to introduce yourself to those parents and grandparents later. When everyone understands what is expected of them and is committed to helping in whatever capacity needed, the whole program can run like a well-oiled machine!
Next week, we will discuss more of the paperwork involved in planning a VBS program. We will view a sample schedule, talk about themes, teaching materials, and such in order to work out the details of VBS planning.
In the meantime, please feel fee to write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with ANY questions, concerns, ideas for discussion that you would like to know more about so that we can be better prepared to use one of the greatest evangelistic tools in Children's ministries - Vacation Bible School.