Last week our parish hosted its annual Vacation Bible School, where 100’s of kids experienced God’s love. I’ve always had mixed feelings regarding VBS and wanted to know if others shared my thoughts so I shot out the question on social media:
VBS. Is it a youth minister’s nightmare, highlight or just another thing that goes on? Share your thoughts. #mymsummers
Responses were mostly positive and varied. While I’m not directly involved with Vacation Bible School I’ve learned to embrace it because if well-done it could help the youth ministry:
ENGAGE TEENS WHO HAVEN’T CONNECTED WITH YOUR PROGRAM
There will be teenagers who serve in Vacation Bible School that have never been to your programs. By being present you can:
- Connect them with other teens that do attend your ministry.
- Build trust and make a personal invite.
- Bring awareness and inform others what the ministry actually does.
By being present at Vacation Bible School you’ll reach teens who might have never considered coming to a youth program.
TRAIN POTENTIAL STUDENT LEADERS
Vacation Bible School is an opportunity to put teens in a leadership position. Not only can they lead a crew, but they can:
- MC the mainstage.
- Lead the set-design and environment set-up.
- Run snacks, craft or activities rooms.
You’ll want to pair them up with an adult who they can apprentice. It’ll be an experience they can take with them in other areas of service in your church.
TEACH TEENS TO SHARE THEIR FAITH OPENLY
The teens are given a non-threatening opportunity to share their faith with others. Little kids aren’t going to mock or judge them. Whether it’s during an activity or on the main stage you can allow teens to share what they’ve learned and how they are growing with God.
INVEST IN FUTURE TEENS AND PARENTS
Your presence not only matters to the teenagers who are serving but to the kids who are attending and their parents. You are giving them familiarity and the opportunity to ask questions about what their kids can experience in the future.
You’ll have an opportunity to plant seeds and hype up what you do. You can build excitement and anticipation so that when a kid becomes a teenager they’ll be excited about coming to your program.
So, how do you reap the benefits of Vacation Bible School as a youth minister? It starts with:
BEING PRESENT IN A VARIETY OF WAYS
To be present means to be flexible. While you might feel inclined to take a specific role it’s going to be more effective if you are able to move around. You want to interact and build as many relationships as possible. A few key places are:
- Planning meetings leading up to the event.
- Standing by the door while kids and parents arrive and leave.
- Following a different crew each day.
The more people see you the more of an impression you’ll make. The more familiar the more they’ll be willing to accept any invitation you put out there.
HUDDLING EACH MORNING TO START OUT RIGHT
When it comes to the teens you’ll want to make sure you are interacting with them the most. That means asking them to show up 20 minutes before everyone else. In a huddle you’ll want to:
- Pray together as a crew.
- Talk about the day and what they should expect.
- Give them a clear objective or goal.
The purpose is to form a community and get them excited for the day.
EDUCATING THE OTHER ADULTS
Talk to the other adults serving and give them tips when it comes to working with teens. Remind them that the teens are capable of serving at a high level.
FOLLOWING UP WITH THANK YOU AND COMMUNITY
At the end of the Vacation Bible School send your teens a thank you note and try to get them together again. Make it relational and simple like going to a movie or having a pizza party.
Take advantage of Vacation Bible School, even if it isn’t the highlight of your year. You’ll be able to connect with more teens, invest in future volunteers and grow a stronger youth ministry.
Question: How do you utilize Vacation Bible School to strengthen your youth ministry? You can leave a comment by clicking here.