Vacation Bible School–it may very well be one of the most-looked-forward-to events of the year for the children of your church and your community. Whether the children come expecting a bit of fun to spice up the long summer or with a purposeful intention of growing closer to Jesus–or a bit of both–you know that the most important goal for Vacation Bible School is that the children leave with a sense of the love of God in their hearts and a clearer direction for their future.
Vacation Bible School accounts for a relatively short period of the year–generally speaking, either one or two weeks. Some churches hold their Vacation Bible School programs early in the day, at close to the same time church services or school would usually be held. Others hold their programs in the evening, when parents and helpers are commonly off of work for the day.
This is an important decision which, of course, is largely based on the availability of your church members and the needs of the community. Let us consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Disadvantages of an evening Vacation Bible School
The inherent disadvantage of an evening Vacation Bible School program is that it comes at a time of day when many children are already worn out and are nearing their bedtime. As any parent knows, this can lead to grumpiness even in a normally sweet child.
It may also present conflicts with the family’s dinner hour. Some churches will provide a simple supper as part of Vacation Bible School to account for this, which takes much of the stress off of the family, but at the same time, must be accounted for in the allotment of time in the schedule and will use additional resources of the church, both in work and money.
Also in the evening, the simple availability of reasonable hours for Vacation Bible School is shorter than in the morning–probably two or a maximum of three.
Advantages of an evening Vacation Bible School
With all of the disadvantages, why would any church choose to have their Vacation Bible School in the evening? Actually, it seems to be a quite popular choice.
Probably the single heaviest reason has to do with the availability of Vacation Bible School helpers. If the majority of your church members work during the day, you may find that more are able and/or willing to help with Vacation Bible School during the evening than are during the morning.
Also, some feel that more children will be able to attend an evening Vacation Bible School program. Their parents are probably off work and able to give them a ride to VBS. Plus, some families are used to evening being the time for extra activities anyway: sports, clubs, and so forth.
One final advantage of the evening hours is the relative coolness of the summer air. This might be especially relevant if much or all of your Vacation Bible School program is expected to be held outdoors.
Disadvantages of a morning Vacation Bible School
Let’s look next at the morning hours. There are disadvantages here, as well–most of which are the opposite of the evening’s advantages, namely the summer heat and the availability (or possible lack thereof) of helpers.
You may have a straggler or two coming in late to a morning Vacation Bible School, but this is a possibility no matter what time you schedule an event.
Advantages of a morning Vacation Bible School
The morning hours have many advantages for Vacation Bible School, however, and should be considered.
If you start your Vacation Bible School early enough in the day, you will catch much of the cooler part of the morning and still miss out on most of that “11 to 2″ intense sun.
Since our bodies are naturally programmed to rise and “set” with the sun, the children’s brains are generally more open to learning in the morning hours.
There are simply more reasonable hours available–it is totally doable to have the teachers available for four to four-and-a-half hours.
Most children are accustomed to getting out to school in the morning and Vacation Bible School is a fun change of pace for a place to be headed! Plus, if you plan to have your closing program during the regular worship hour at church, it is a natural transition when the children have been coming to VBS every morning as it is.
Give it a try
If you have any doubt as to what would work best for your church, I highly recommend giving the morning hours a try. You may have more helpers than you think. As long as the lead Vacation Bible School teachers are consistent, helpers can fill in on various days as they are available. The extra time it gives you with the children and the alertness of everybody involved will likely outweigh any possible disadvantages you might encounter!