Vacation bible school is just around the corner and while it can be a completely overwhelming time for your small church, it doesn’t need to be. I’m such a fan of the phrase, “Less is more.” As we emerge from the pandemic, my prayer is that when we focus on VBS this year, we just pull in close and focus on sharing the Good News with these sweet little ones. When considering vacation bible school ideas for small churches, plan on casting a wide net and clearly focusing on the mission at hand.
Holding a backyard bible study theme may just be at the top of our list of VBS Ideas For Small Churches. What’s more personal than inviting a family to your backyard for fellowship, food, and games? Why not bring this same format into your church where the classrooms are set up as casually as a backyard picnic and the sharing the love of Christ abounds? Hosting a family night at the end of your VBS will accentuate the communal nature of your week while emphasizing the importance of continuing the conversation with parents and extended family members. After all, The Church should be an extension of the family to support and encourage living a faithful life.
When considering VBS curriculum for small churches another idea may be studying the parables- either focusing on one or sharing a new one each day. After all, parables are short stories with the intended purpose to teach a lesson that can be discussed and applied in real life. Parables were one of Jesus’ go-to methods of preaching the Gospel as they enabled Him to share valuable lessons about loving each other and doing good works in the form of a story.
- The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) – The message of this parable is to love your neighbor as yourself, even if that neighbor is meant to be your enemy. The phrase “Good Samaritan” has become synonymous with someone who helps others, and several charities and hospitals take their name from the Good Samaritan (which are great reminders of who we are called to be!).
- The Almond Tree (Jeremiah 1:11-14) – Like the almond, we blossom when conditions are good, but under difficult conditions, we can fail. Like the almond, if our roots in Christ are shallow, we fall before the storms of life. But unlike the almond tree, we have a choice.
- The Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-32) – In this parable, Jesus teaches that although the Kingdom of God started small, with Jesus and the disciples, it would grow and spread across the world to unlimited numbers of followers. This would also especially be a great parable to share if your church has sponsored missionary families currently in the field.
- The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10) – While the children may think this is a story about money, it’s really about the Kingdom of Heaven. God sees every person as having great value. The Lord feels great sadness when anyone is lost, following the ways of the world instead of Him, and wants them to return. As the story comes to a close, the woman has carefully searched until she finds the one missing of her ten silver pieces. She shares her great joy with neighbors and friends. Jesus directly compares her reaction to God and the angels rejoicing when a person repents of their sin, believes in the Son, and submits their lives to Him.
- The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29) – Our job as Christians is to preach and share the Good News, and it is up to God to give the increase. God only uses us to plant the seed, and He will nurture and bring about growth. We continue to live our lives to honor and point to Him so that when the seed takes root, we can continue to nourish what God has worked for good in their hearts. Just like a seed planted into the soil, sometimes, it takes time before we can see green poking through the dirt and above the ground. Remember, even though we cannot see the young plant, we can be sure that the seed is being nourished by its surroundings- the soil, water, etc.- and it is being prepared to fulfill a purpose.
Creating an inviting and fun environment to learn and apply the Word of God is the heart of VBS. Children do not need all the bells and whistles to be taught about Jesus or His sacrificial love and desires for them to know and follow Him. But, they do need a safe and clean environment filled with caring adults who genuinely want to know and share His Good News.
Whitney joined ACS Technologies in 2017 and is a Senior Product Marketing Manager in the market department. Prior to ACST, Whitney worked at Blackbaud for 11 years in various roles focusing on churches and other non-profits.