UNY Media Resource Center releases VBS survey results
October 13, 2015 / By Diane Miner
First, thank you to those who took the time to fill out the online survey with feedback on your Vacation Bible School (VBS) program this year.
Below are the aggregated results from the survey along with some of my own suggestions.
- Survey participants were divided evenly between those who purchased and those who borrowed the program kits. Most churches tend to use either Group or Cokesbury for their program. I’d like to remind churches to check out what the Media Resource Center has to offer before you purchase one because we have kits available to borrow from both publishers.
- More churches tend to hold VBS in the evening, when they can get more help, and it allows children who may be at daycare or other activities during the day a chance to come. Most churches also tend to offer VBS on their own and at their own location. To get out of the doors of your church, you may want to try offering a program at your community center, a nearby trailer park, or your town park. You may also want to join with other churches in your area to combine resources. One church took its VBS to a low-income housing community center in the area. Several churches joined together to offer VBS at the town park in conjunction with the local town summer recreation program.
- It’s important to connect with your community. You could offer a free meal before, during, or after your program, hold a block party, and/or offer a free ice cream social to end the week. One church that used G-Force held a bike safety rodeo, invited a 10-year-old dirt bike champion to do an exhibition, and collected used bikes and money for a bike rescue mission near the community.
- Typical ways to promote VBS include Facebook, radio, TV, local newspaper, postcards mailed to previous participants, fliers, posters, banners, word of mouth, a large sign in front of church, and door hangers. Some churches participate in their local parades with a float decorated in the theme of their VBS and hand out information regarding the program. Perhaps you can partner with your local school to have information available or host a booth at the local farmers market. Some communities have a large sign near the town square, where events can be advertised.
- The number one tip from churches was to start planning early, and I have to agree.
- January-March is a good time to get a lot of planning done for summer. Also, nothing beats a personal invitation to get the help you need. Tap into the youth in your community for extra help. Check out what other churches nearby are doing and when. You don’t want to compete with each other, and you may decide to team up and work together. Set clear goals and expectations when working together. Know who you want to reach and why.
- Have fun with your program. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Try not to overwhelm yourself or others. It can include any age groups you want from the youngest to the oldest or somewhere in between. Adapt a program as you want and use what works for you. You may choose to hold a program for one whole day, once each week for the summer, or even during winter or spring school breaks. Find what connects you to your community, and don’t be afraid to step outside your building to show God’s love.
Diane Miner is the Upper New York Conference’s Media Resource Center Director.