The Cokesbury Kids blog is all about ministry!

Each week of 2020, our goal is to provide ideas to assist you as you minister to families and teach the gospel to the kids in your community.

What We Learned from Hosting a Virtual VBS

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One of the highlights of our ministry to kids and families has always been VBS, Vacation Bible School. The ministry of VBS connects all age groups of our church and community.

 

  • VBS impacts teenagers and adult volunteers.
  • VBS impacts siblings and parents of kids who attend.
  • VBS impacts grandparents and friends.
  • VBS impacts anyone who hears a child share a memory or sing a song—can know the love of God from your church’s VBS.

Our VBS event takes a year in the making, from planning and preparing to recruiting and producing. We are blessed to have a large VBS, filled with kids, leaders, and volunteers. Yet this year we were planning VBS during a pandemic.

 

So, what did our church discover from hosting a Virtual VBS (or VVBS for short)?

 

We had to do what was right for our church and community

Just like you and your leaders, we had to prayerfully make tough decisions regarding VBS. After much prayer and many meetings, we decided what was right for our church was to host a virtual VBS!

 

We had to total buy-in from our church and staff

In order to have VBS during this pandemic, we had to seek counsel from our clergy and staff. They guided us through each step of the journey. Our VVBS only happened because it was a team effort.  

 

We needed lots of grace

Our leadership team had to slow down. We had to give and receive grace during these months of planning. We had to use the resources we had available to us. And in this pandemic, a lot of resources we had in the past, whether it was volunteers or supplies, were no longer available. Even our online delivery service took longer to deliver!

 

We needed lots of organization and preparation

We had to organize and prepare for something we had never done before. For example, we wanted to provide supply bags with all the materials kids (and their parents) would need for VBS. But, could we afford to offer this type of supply bag?

 

  • What does a supply bag even look like for VVBS?
  • Should we make our children register for the bag?
  • Should there be a cutoff date?
  • Should we charge a fee for it?
  • How many should we prepare?

We had to answer all of these questions just for a supply bag!

 

We needed lots of lists.

Lists, lists and more lists of schedules were needed. A rehearsal schedule. A filming schedule. A decoration schedule. A supply schedule. A communication and promotion schedule. And many more.

After much planning, we decided to provide a supply bag based on the crafts and science lessons that reinforce each Bible story.

 

We had to reimagine VBS

We had to get very creative. We had to reimagine how to use staff and volunteers. Our Family Ministry and Food Service Directors envisioned the flow of packing and distributing supplies.

 

For our Bible lesson time, we offered the single-person drama provided in the curriculum and adapted it to meet our needs. Usually, we enlist the help of our youth and seniors to serve as part of our drama team to act out the Bible story.

 

We used our youth area and space to do our filming. We made use of pipe and drape wall covers to film most VBS segments. We repurposed foam-board trees we used for Knights of North Castle.

 

How to film our Adult Bible Study was a concern. Yet a mobile device with a stabilizer was the answer to that concern. Our Adult Ministry Director used her computer to film a daily Adult Bible Study for social media to equip the adults leading their children at home. This part of the plan worked out so well. Parents along with our adult learners were able to watch an overview of the daily Bible lesson. Filming this Bible lesson overview offered us the opportunity to reach our adult audience.

 

We used familiar faces

From the beginning of this process, we felt strongly that our children needed to see people they knew. We made this happen using our clergy, staff, and a few VBS leaders in our video segments. The emails, calls, and texts we received from our families validated the need for children to see people with whom they are familiar.

 

We used various media outlets to promote our VBS

We advertised through our local and regional online and print media. We advertised with a local community eNewsletter. We used many forms of social media to share the word about our VVBS.

 

We selected a local ministry that serves inner-city families for our mission project. We also promoted our VBS mission on all forms of church media before, during, and after your VVBS.

 

Keep shining God’s light

We keep shining God’s light with others by allowing access on our website, social media pages, and YouTube channel. Recently our church received a thank you email from a mom in Oklahoma who had four children that attended our VVBS a couple of weeks after our Livestream event. 

 

Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the Lord’s glory has shone upon you. Isaiah 60:1

 

 

ALL COMMENTS

Mollie Dixon
We combined with two churches (Misty Creek Community Church and First Baptist Church of Sandy Springs) and did "To Mars and Beyond. " We put together the bags with all the crafts, a folder with all the coloring sheets/work sheets for the days, and descriptions with pictures for the snack. We filmed the opening, the skits, the crafts and the closing all on a green screen so we could add our own background. We had a blast doing it and the kids loved it. To Mars and Beyond - VBS Day 1 - Creek Kids/Misty Creek Community Church & FBC of Sandy Springs https://youtu.be/M93KKiclWP4
Laura Eldridge
We did a Virtual VBS, too. We wanted to save Knights of North Castle for next year, soooo we wrote our own. We picked a Bible verse as our starting point and then found Bible stories that corresponded with our church's four core values. The VBS directors each took a section ( storytime, snack, science recreation, music and crafts) and wrote their curriculum. We tried to make it look as much like VBS as the kids knew it. We posted the supply lists in advance on the church website. We kept each day to 30 minutes. Each day had the story, recreation and music and one of the other three. We made all the snacks, songs, crafts and science available online. My associate and I filmed openings and introductions. The directors and their families were videoed for the different sections. We even did our fundraiser and received more than double what we asked! We discovered we were seen on all the continents except Antarctica.

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