Should VBS Be a Priority During COVID?
By Trish Duggan
The quick answer is, of course, yes, if at all possible.
With all the government mandates across the world, we’ve all slowly become accustomed to “sheltering in place”, not seeing friends, not having an opportunity to fellowship and we’ve spent more time inside watching tv or on our devices. And we know that if we aren’t actively working to have the Lord take up residence in our kids’ hearts and minds, we are allowing other influences to do so. Powerful words. And so true. VBS is often one of the most convenient short-term missions for us to do!
COVID-19 has had a ripple effect in almost all aspects of our lives, wouldn’t you say? Restrictions due to COVID-19 have limited worship, Sunday School, fellowship and encouragement to each other. And it’s had a prominent effect on VBS—that amazing, unique way we use to introduce children to Jesus while making the church approachable and familiar.
I’ve been involved with our church’s vacation Bible school on and off for many years. In that time I’ve heard stories from parents who talk about the first time they heard about Jesus and his love was at Bible school and now they know they need this influence on their kids. “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:10-11.
With COVID and the restrictions, what can VBS look like these days? Regulations are beginning to lift all over the country, but the reality is that we will probably deal with a different looking outreach again this summer. Here are just a few ideas to consider as your church may be contemplating a VBS:
- Go virtual.
- Create a box of craft goodies to give out safely outdoors. Follow-up video lessons can be posted to your website each day in order to give directions for the crafts.
- Read a Bible story or a Christian book to kids online. Send an email to the parents whose children have attended VBS in the past and give them a link to where you will be reading. Have a question-and-answer time at the end.
- Get the teens/youth group in your church involved! Find a theater/play script and have the teens act out, either as a small group in person, or online—or both! You could do this with video or even just audio.
- Since some Sunday school classes have been curtailed, use that curriculum! Hand worksheets out to parents at the beginning of a week and then have Bible lessons online each day.
- Summer is a great time to be outside! If you have limitations to indoor gatherings where you are, take the lessons outside! Rent a tent, grab a blanket and read or act out a Bible story in the great outdoors.
- Tent or no tent, grab some tables and teach a craft outside. It doesn’t have to be long, and you could read to the children as they work.
- Hold a soccer or flag football camp! Grab some water bottles, goals, balls and invite kids in your neighborhood to come for lessons and games. Find the soccer or football guru in your church and ask them to lead. (It’s important to make sure to let the parents know that this will not just be sports training held at the church, but that at the end of the time, a Bible lesson and prayer will be part of the time together.)
- If you are permitted inside, limit your numbers and/or offer two different weeks (two sets of staff as not to overwhelm volunteers, if you can.)
- Have member families in your church host a VBS in their own backyard. Smaller groups are sometimes preferred in these COVID days, so it may be just the ticket for some.
And keep in mind, since most overseas short-term trips are cancelled, some teens will be available to help—and may be willing to travel to do so, if permitted.
VBS can be an exhausting and intense time, but it’s such a great way to open up your church building to families who may shy away from meeting people in a formal church setting.
If you haven’t considered holding VBS because of COVID, I encourage you to pray about it and see where the Lord leads you and those in your church.
Do you need help with your VBS? Let us get the word out to the OPC Short-Term Missions’ community! Go to OPCSTM.org.