Vacation Bible School is a huge task to carry out. You put your all into it with great hopes, and now it is over. What next?
Before the event gets too far into the past, it is extremely important that we stop and take the time to evaluate how it all went.
Most likely, you and your helpers will be ready for a little break right after VBS; but two weeks after the last day of VBS is probably a good time to plan on getting together for a meeting to talk about it all. (And if it has been longer than that already and you have not had this meeting, set it up now! )
You have likely heard this before, but do not count on your memories alone to help you next year! Other things will happen and the things which are so clear in your minds now will fade.
So set up a date and time and expect all the leaders (including your church pastor) to be there, if at all possible.
Open up with prayer and a short, relevant devotional. Then have at it! Insist on focus, take notes, and proceed with an attitude of humble gratitude.
Here is a basic list of ten questions to get you thinking:
- What went well?
- What did not go so well?
- Were we happy with the Vacation Bible School materials that we used?
- Did we have enough helpers?
- Were all of our helpers staying busy?
- What adjustments should you make for next year’s VBS budget?
- How did the schedule go?
- Did we meet any unexpected problems?
- Did everyone come out of the experience encouraged?
- Was God glorified by your Vacation Bible School?
Of course, this question is very broad, but some things are sure to stand out in teachers’ minds. Some things to think about include activities, schedule, timing, advertising, and the atmosphere of your VBS. We will get into more detail on some of these shortly.
On the other hand, you may have encountered some outstanding problems. Could you have avoided some of your unanticipated troubles with some extra planning beforehand? Something needs to be done differently. Should you discard some part of the program completely, or would a small change solve the problem?
Consider the Vacation Bible School materials that you used, whether you prepared them yourself or worked with a purchased program. Overall, did they serve the purpose you hoped they would? Were the worksheets useful in helping the children grow closer to Jesus, and did they keep the children’s interest? Were the various age-groups taken into account so that each child had a valuable, understandable lesson experience? Were the stories presented in a realistic manner and not as some “fairy tale”? All in all, was the Vacation Bible School program Biblical with a clear purpose?
Also consider the helps. Was there enough information included (or at least, available to you) so that you felt confident as a Vacation Bible School leader? If you needed them, were the representatives where you purchased your Vacation Bible School materials helpful and kind?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions, should the entire program be “scrapped”, or do you need to make some adjustments to it? If adjustments, what?
It takes a lot of helpers to have the most successful Vacation Bible School program. Did you have enough? Or were teachers feeling stressed out because they really could have used an extra hand?
What could you do to make next year better–does something need to be left out or done differently, or do you need to find a way to gather more help? While you’re at it, ask who would consider being available for next year’s Vacation Bible School!
On the flip side, if any helpers were finding themselves standing around unsure what to do, how could you help them feel needed? Maybe the apparent lack of helpers was actually only a poor distribution of them.
Were you comfortable with this year’s Vacation Bible School budget, or did you come up short? If short, why? Some possible reasons for a funds shortage include: excessive spending, lack of communication, poorly allocated monies (whether the amounts are not broken down enough, or they simply did not match the actual need), or true lack of funding.
Or perhaps your Vacation Bible School ministry has been very blessed financially. If so, is there excess that you should allot somewhere else or towards future Vacation Bible Schools?
A poorly planned schedule can be one of the biggest stressors at Vacation Bible School. Too much activity; too little activity; changing location too often: these can all find everyone wishing for the end of each day. You may have noticed that certain activities were allotted too much or not enough time. Did teachers have time to connect with the children, or did you find yourselves just rushing from one job or activity to another? What needs to change? And again, what went well?
Consider your choice of dates, too–was this a good time of year for your church and your community, or should you try a different set of dates next year?
At some point, you will probably run into some problem that nobody ever would have even imagined. If any of those came up, how were they dealt with? Would this be an acceptable solution if similar problems were ever to come up at VBS again, or should something have been done differently? What? How?
Vacation Bible School should be a time for spiritual refreshment and nurturing. Children and staff, parents and friends should all have had an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus and be encouraged to press on the narrow, upward path to Heaven as a result of the experience. Vacation Bible School teachers, leaders, and helpers may be rather exhausted from the work involved; but if they are feeling discouraged as if the work was pointless, it is important to look for the reason why. This leads to the final and most important question:
Was there a spirit of reverence, prayer, worship, love, truth…? Was the atmosphere holy and uplifting, or chaotic and/or worldly? Did every part of your Vacation Bible School program, from planning and setting up to closing and taking down the last decoration, point to God as Supreme? The fact of the matter is this: “if this…work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it“!
Press on, and armed with your list of encouragement and new ideas for next year’s Vacation Bible School, you can prayerfully look forward to an even more blessed experience next time!