Vacation Bible School is perhaps the most important evangelistic program your church will have this year. Children are eager to learn and their hearts are open to the love of Jesus. Given the enormous impact that may be made in a child’s life, for now and for years to come—even for eternity—by the Gospel, it becomes very important that the few hours that Vacation Bible School will last be effective in sharing the true essence of that Good News about Jesus.
As you begin to consider just what would be the best way to divide the time in your Vacation Bible School, you may find it a bit overwhelming. Which activities should be included? Which should be left out? How long should each activity take? What order should they be done in? And on the list of questions goes.
Here is a step-by-step process to guide you through the process of arranging a Vacation Bible School schedule that fits your church!
Always start, continue, and complete the process with prayer. What God has done for so many others, He is willing to do for you, too!
First you will need to decide whether you plan on a one-week Vacation Bible School program, or a two-week VBS. I highly recommend two weeks if at all possible. Also, you will need to evaluate whether it would be best to have your VBS in the morning or evening hours, and start thinking about the specific time that might work for your church.
Then, once you have that basic framework established, you can better assess how to use the minutes within that framework.
Consider your Vacation Bible School activities
Think about what activities you would like to include in your VBS.
If your church has had Vacation Bible School in previous years (or if you have been involved in another church’s program), you will have a good place to start. Which activities did the children enjoy? Which were the most profitable in leading them to our loving Saviour?
Brainstorm, writing down all of your ideas; then go through and decide which of your ideas are must-haves, which would be nice if time allows, and which might as well be left out.
Put a star by (or circle) your must-haves, and cross out the leave-outs.
Each Vacation Bible School activity should have a purpose. If you cannot come up with a solid, relevant goal for an activity, it is probably better left out.
Estimate your Vacation Bible School attendance
Next do your best to estimate how many children you expect to have.
If you expect more than a half-dozen or so children at your Vacation Bible School, it is wise to consider breaking up into age groups. I like to call them “Kindie” (pre-readers, generally 5- and 6- year-olds), “Primary” (early school-age, usually 7-, 8-, and 9-year-olds), and “Junior” (fluent in reading and comprehension, and ready for a bit more of a challenge, usually 10- through 12-year-olds).
Some churches also have a toddler class at Vacation Bible School. This may be a bit more unstructured than the other Vacation Bible School divisions, and is made available to encourage families with both little ones and school-aged children to come to VBS.
Arranging and rearranging
Then comes the tricky part: which class will do what and when? It may help to write each of the Vacation Bible School activities out three times (once for each structured age-group), along with a note of how many minutes the activity should be given for the particular age-group. Cut the activities apart so that you have something that is easy to rearrange.
Then make three columns on a sheet of paper, one for each age-group.
Now you can arrange and rearrange your Vacation Bible School schedule until it seems doable. Always double-check to be sure no teacher is expected to be in more than one place at a time! Also, leave a time cushion between classes for special activities leaders to clean up from one group and prepare for the next.
You probably want to have the entire group (toddlers and all) together for a general assembly both to open and close each day of Vacation Bible School.
It is also wise to have a condensed version of the schedule on the final day of Vacation Bible School to allow some extra time to go over the special program that will be presented to the families, friends, and the rest of the church.
Evaluate your Vacation Bible School schedule
Once Vacation Bible School is over, get together with the lead teachers and evaluate how your Vacation Bible School schedule went. Write down your thoughts—next year is a little way off, and we can tend to forget things. If all went well, by all means, use the schedule again. If you feel some parts need some rearranging, give it a try!
If you have thought it all over and still feel overwhelmed, there is always the option of using a Vacation Bible School curriculum that comes with a suggested Vacation Bible School schedule. Hasten Home sells original, inspirational Vacation Bible School materials, complete with a suggested schedule that has been tested to be smooth, enjoyable, and effective.
Whatever you decide, go forward with humble prayer in the strength of the Lord, and expect a blessing!