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This post is part of the Children's Ministry Toolkit - a collection of resources for building strong and vibrant children's ministry, brought to you by Faith Formation Ministries.

While the words Vacation Bible School and the acronym VBS immediately conjure up images of a church-run summer program for some, for those with limited church experience it's not a familiar phrase. Using fresh terminology that connects with your community is important; so is thinking in fresh ways about what “VBS” might look like. 

For example, when we think of VBS, we often think of the traditional 3-5 day program. But there are many different ways to structure a VBS. You could take the traditional VBS curriculum and shift it to an evening event, incorporating an intergenerational focus. Or schedule your VBS sessions on only one or two days a week for four weeks. You can also use traditional VBS curriculum for Backyard Bible Clubs. 

Here are some great ideas for making the most of VBS.

  • Choosing a VBS curriculum is similar to choosing any curriculum you might need. The Ten Question Tool for Choosing Children’s Ministry Curriculum offers ten topics to explore when making your selection, each with a question or two to help evaluate various curricula you might be considering.

  • In VBS Reviews You Can Trust you’ll find curriculum suggestions, an idea for a new approach to summertime learning, and a comprehensive review of curricula from a wide variety of publishers. 

  • Theology matters as much in the summer as it does during the school year. Creation CelebrationDreams and Schemes, and God’s Family in ACTion are just a few of the titles of the eight theologically sound, fun, and easy-to-use VBS-like resources you’ll find here

  • Looking for a downloadable VBS curriculum in both English and Spanish? Check out the resources that two Presbyterian churches have created here

  • Looking for ways to deepen your VBS experience? Check out this blog post on Three Ways to Strengthen Your Summer Children’s Ministry

  • Get ready with this Prayer for VBS and Training for Teens.

  • Commission and bless your VBS during a morning worship service with a prayer and liturgy

  • Use these Vacation Bible School Inclusion Tips to widen your welcome to include kids of varying abilities.

  • Looking for a resource that captures a bigger picture of VBS within the life of the church? Check out the downloadable training tool Vacation Bible School: Congregation and Visitors from Building Church Leaders. 

  • Virginia Theological Seminary created a free resource for Episcopal churches that discusses VBS, including topics such as whether you should have a VBS, selecting a good curriculum, staffing, and including teens in your ministry, as well as a commissioning service. Check it out here

  • Most VBS curriculums coordinate around a theme. Picking the Right VBS Theme for Your Church helps you think through the steps in identifying a theme that will lay a strong foundation for your ministry.   

Have questions? Our Children's Ministry Catalyzer would love to talk with you about faith formation in children at your church. Email [email protected]

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