In 2020, churches were faced with the challenge of doing VBS differently than ever before or not doing it at all. Fortunately, my church took a cue from the free eBook 4 VBS Strategies for This Summer and chose to conduct VBS at a city park.
It was a great experience. Here is what I learned from teaching VBS last year:
- Kids thrive outdoors. Behavioral challenges were virtually non-existent. The use of the park’s pavilion, as well as wide-open grassy areas, gave kids room to be kids. They could run, talk loudly and move about more freely than in the confines of a building.
- Volunteers respond to new challenges. As soon as our church family heard we were having VBS at a local park rather than at our church building, adults and teens signed up to teach, prepare snacks, set-up and take-down awnings and help in many other ways.
- Curriculum works anywhere. Every day, I led a small group of kids in Bible study under a tree. I used the curriculum my church had purchased for a traditional indoor VBS, and with an adjustment here and there, I was able to teach boys and girls about Jesus effectively. The kids played games, listened to Bible stories and used their activity books. I had little trouble keeping their attention.
- The gospel is location neutral. This past Sunday, my pastor baptized a boy who became a Christian during VBS. He and his family are affiliated with another church in town; however, the child wanted to be baptized in our church. Would this kid have come to our church building, heard the gospel, and trusted in Jesus during a traditional VBS? Perhaps. However, I do know that each day at the park every child heard the gospel.
I was also surprised at the consistency in which kids attended the VBS. In fact, every child in my Bible study group who started on Monday stayed until the end of VBS on Friday. Was it hot? Yes. Was it inconvenient to set up and tear down daily? Yes. Were there bugs? Yes. Did the snacks melt prematurely? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Even during a global pandemic, VBS is worth it because the gospel is worth it.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Publishing and Network Partnerships. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before joining LifeWay Kids. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and two daughters-in-law, and the grandparents of four adorable grandchildren.