Last Thursday I introduced a series of training posts that will follow the six steps of leading a VBS as outlined in LifeWay's VBS 2015 Administrative Guide for Directors.
Step 1: Know Your Purpose and Theme
You may think knowing the purpose of VBS seems too elementary to even discuss. After all, don't we all know why we conduct VBS?
Of course you know why you conduct VBS, and I know why I conduct VBS, but do we agree? The truth is, gather a group of VBS leaders in a room and you will have as many reasons for conducting VBS as you have leaders in the room.
Purposes may be similar but chances are there is just enough variation that it won't take long for you to realize the group is not in agreement. Nearly all VBS leaders will agree that VBS is for the children, but that is typically were agreement ends.
Some leaders believe VBS should be about character building. Other leaders believe VBS should be a week of instruction towards deeper discipleship for the kids who already have a relationship with Jesus and the church. Still others believe VBS should be all about the fun and be a reward at the end of a long school year. I even know a few VBS leaders who believe VBS should be conducted just because "we've always had VBS." And of course, there are leaders like me who believe the main reason for conducting VBS is evangelism.
None of these beliefs are a bad reason to gather kids and families together. Each can be the foundation for a good event. However, if each worker holds to a different purpose the week is going to be a disappointment to everyone. When each member of the team believes there is a different purpose your team is attempting to hit the center of a target with a shotgun.
As a VBS director, your first planning action should be meeting with the pastor and church staff to make sure everyone agrees on a common purpose for conducting VBS. Who wants to have what they consider an extremely successful week of VBS only to learn the pastor was disappointed by the outcome. This typically results from the pastor and VBS team not seeing the week through the same eyes or with a common purpose.
Once the purpose is agreed upon you have created a target or goal. You have also identified your target audience.
Your purpose will dictate how you allocate your budget, the dates you choose for VBS, the way you enlist workers, how and to whom you promote your VBS, and the choice of curriculum. (After all, if your purpose is evangelism you don't want to use curriculum that is not evangelistic.)
Having the VBS director and pastor on the same page is important, but it is just as important that each worker is in agreement as well. Helping potential workers understand the purpose of VBS should be a priority of the enlistment process (Step 3). Workers need to understand the expected outcome of the week as well as the expectations of their individual assignments and the curriculum they are being asked to use.
Once you know your purpose and have chosen your curriculum, you need to spend time exploring the theme and curriculum to learn how it is designed to help you reach your goals.
Next Thursday is Step 2: Start Planning.