VBS is like the Super Bowl of children’s ministry. Your church may call it something different now – Kids Camp or Adventure Week or something similar. But many of us have something similar – one week that is highly intensive, all-hands on deck, and requires much preparation, many volunteers, and many hours. It is one of the biggest, and hardest, weeks of the year. Yes, there’s plenty of fun and there are lots of God moments, but I’ve wondered how many kidmin leaders or volunteers think at some point during the week, “That’s it, I’m quitting!”
In the middle of all the intense hustle and bustle and details and glue guns, how do we keep the gospel at the center?
1. Find a way to refocus on the why. I love Colossians 1:28-29.
We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.
The purpose of VBS is to help kids come to know Jesus and to help them grow closer to Him. The gospel is the why. Post those verses (or others that speak to you) on your mirror, on your steering wheel, on your desk, on the lock screen on your phone – anywhere that you will see it that can remind you. You will need to point yourself back to truth when that volunteer drops out at the last minute or the box of glow sticks goes missing.
As you remind yourself that the gospel is most important, make sure that is reflected in every aspect of your VBS. As you plan, ask yourself and your team this: what are we doing to make sure the gospel is the most memorable part? The cool stage and fun games and over-the-top experiences will be fun. But how can you communicate that Jesus is the most important part?
2. Remember your identity is not based on VBS attendance. We tend to get so caught up in numbers in church world. Whether you are super discouraged because registration is low or you are feeling on top of the world because attendance is high, remember that the numbers don’t define you. You do not find more favor with God if your VBS has fifty more kids than last year and if attendance has dropped that does not mean He doesn’t love you. Sounds silly when I say it like that, huh? But sometimes we attach so much self-value to the tangible outcomes. Remember it is by grace through faith that you’ve been saved, not by your works. Your identity is found in HIS GRACE, not in your VBS numbers.
3. Ditch the competition mindset. Quit the comparison game. If the church down the street had a hundred more kids and pony rides, that does not mean that God did better things there than He did in your church. It is not a competition. Every work in every church is important. We are all on the same team. Look for ways to cheer on other churches. Intentionally reach out and encourage other kids’ pastors without even mentioning numbers once.
4. Put people before tasks. I don’t know about you, but I can get so engrossed in the “stuff” of VBS, that I forget to focus on the people. Say hi. Thank people for serving. Connect personally before telling someone what to do. Get out of your paperwork and walk around a little. High five the kids. Pray for the names on the class lists. Figure out what you need to do to remember that VBS is more about the people than the to-do lists.
5. Don’t do it for a “thank you.” When we are tired and have poured ourselves into an event, there is the temptation of discouragement because we feel people don’t appreciate what we did. Remember that God sees it. You are serving for an audience of one. His decree of “good and faithful servant” is what matters. Take any applause that you do get and turn it to glory for Him.
6. Give yourself grace. Something will go wrong. Something will be forgotten. Some lesson will flop. Some craft will fall apart. Some schedule mishap will occur. You will have 10,000 things that go perfectly, but that one fail is what you will lie awake and worry about. Friend, Jesus loves you. Not because you are perfect, but because you are His. He has shown you much grace for much bigger things than a VBS mess up. Show yourself some grace. By doing that you are demonstrating that your faith is in HIM, not yourself.
7. Strive with His strength. That line is probably my favorite part of Colossians 1:29. If you are a VBS veteran much of what you do will be routine. You know how to make it all happen. You know how to be “all in” and create an amazing week. But be cautious that you aren’t doing it in your strength. Don’t get to the end of the week and realize that you didn’t even talk to God through it all. Begin and end each day with a prayer of reliance on Him. Stop and pray for wisdom for decisions that need to be made, even when they are decisions you have made before. Don’t take for granted relying on the Holy Spirit working through you. Refuse to do it on your own.
VBS leaders – because of you, kids are going to hear the gospel message. Because of your event, kids are going to experience the love of God and have a blast. What you are doing is worth it. Keep the gospel at the center of your own heart and in all that you do.