Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ingredients for a Successful VBS

As I mentioned in my last post, our church is holding VBS this week. In my role as storyteller, I’ve been impressed with the behavior of the children this year. In previous years, I went home discouraged and dismayed. Children talked while I was talking. They would punch each other, play with each other, act inattentive, stare at me and do nothing if I asked them a question or asked them to do something. There’s been hardly any of that this year. Why?

We’ve done some things differently this year and my suspicions say that this is why we are having such an attentive group of children. Here’s what I see.

1. Organization. The organization and structure this year is tight. Our directors have been holding meetings for two months. Every worker knows what they are supposed to be doing and when they are supposed to be doing it. I think children sense when the adults are insecure about what they are doing and the kids subconsciously act out because they are pushing the boundaries and the boundaries move. If you want well behaved kids, know what you are doing and make sure all your helpers know what you are doing as well.

2. Vision. Our directors took time to teach every worker, even the “snack ladies” about the theme, the major point for each day and the songs. We were encouraged to make sure that everything we did reflected the theme of the day. Every single worker was encouraged to keep emphasizing the theme throughout each evning. During this week, I’ve heard workers doing that, even the snack ladies.

3. Volunteers. I’ve noticed a wide variety of staff workers this year. In years past, we’ve had a lot of teenagers take key positions. This year, there are more adults. If teens are doing a key leadership role, there are plenty of adults around to support them. We’ve also had more men around. Several men are just “drifting through” helping when necessary and interacting with the kids. While I totally believe in helping our teens gain leadership skills by working in VBS, we need to remember that they are still inexperienced and they need support and training. We can’t back off and let them do all by themselves. In today’s society, our kids need male figures in their lives. I think the presence of both men and women have made this group of kids feel secure.

4. An engaging program. Our curriculum this year has been wonderful. The entire church has been turned into a water park with blue tarps, wading pools, beach towels and ice chests strewn around the church. As soon as the children walk into the auditorium, the power point projector is showing a slide show of pictures from the previous day. This is engaging their attention and drawing them into the program as soon as they arrive. They don’t have time to get bored!

5. The Power of God. We can do all we can do, but we still have to rely on God’s Holy Spirit to make sure His message connects with these precious children. I know people have been praying. A great prayer to pray during VBS is that children will listen and that they will not distract others from listening as well. Now our task is to pray that the message we’ve proclaimed this week will take root in these young lives and they will remember the God of Power they’ve met this week.


My next column will appear two weeks from now since my family will head to some quiet countryside for a long needed break. In the meantime, may the Lord bless your work with children, so that they will continue to grow in the knowledge, wisdom and grace of God.

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