Race across the finish line with one of these winning VBS
programs in 1998!
You're probably already revving up your engines for vacation Bible
school this year. To ensure that your VBS experience will put you
and your kids in the winner's circle, here are Children's Ministry
Magazine's top picks for 1998.
To determine the best choices, we brought in four consultants who
determined the VBS Evaluation Filters and then used them to
evaluate all the VBS kits. Their top four choices were the clear
VBS EVALUATION FILTERS
Our evaluators established these factors as the most important for
an effective VBS program.
1. Educational philosophy-Is it teacher- or
student-focused? Does it use active learning? interactive learning?
Does it emphasize intrinsic motivation?
2. Content-Is it Bible-based? relevant to children?
focused on life application? Is the content organized? Does the
sequence of lessons make sense? Is the pacing correct? Is it
multisensory? What's the age span? Are there service
3. Director materials-Are there preplanning tips?
recruiting tips? teacher-training tips and meeting plans? helpful
overviews of each class? Is there an overall supply chart? an
overview schedule? a planning time line? a suggested organizational
chart? Are materials easily outlined and/or categorized?
4. Teacher materials-Are they easy to understand?
helpful? complete? Are there age-level insights? Are there optional
activities? Is it easy/not labor-intensive? Is the guide durable,
usable, and reusable? Are there discipline helps that are
5. Student materials-Are they age-appropriate? appealing?
experiential? Do they assume a churched background? Do they take
into account safety and ability issues? Are they merely paper
busywork, or are they compelling and engaging? Can the tasks be
completed within the time frame?
6. User friendliness-Is it organized? easy to understand?
easy to use? Are there tapes or papers to reproduce?
7. Publicity helps-Are materials up-to-date, appealing,
varied, and easy to use? Are they durable, usable, and easy to read
from a distance? Is there a schedule for publicity? Are there
innovative ideas or suggestions for publicity?
8. Teacher aids-Are they creative? helpful? easy to use?
convenient and readily available?
9. Theme-Is it child-oriented? captivating for kids?
well-executed throughout? kid-friendly? Is it unique and appealing
to unchurched kids?
10. Art-Is it up-to-date? colorful? appealing? inclusive
of people with disabilities? representative of all cultures? Is the
packaging appealing and inclusive?
11. Crafts-Are they new? creative? relevant? neither
supply- nor preparation-intensive? Is the creative process valued?
Do they connect to the theme or Scripture, or are they simply
add-ons? Are the final crafts usable, purposeful, or lasting? Are
the crafts good for boys and girls? Are they age-appropriate?
12. Music-Are the tunes catchy? Do the songs have easy,
understandable words? Are children singing the songs on any
cassettes? Are they '90s songs? Are they fun? Do the songs appeal
to all ages? Do they appeal to boys and girls? Are the songs too
13. Games-Are they competitive or noncompetitive? tied to
the theme? fun? active? Do they require few and/or easy supplies?
Do they have well-written instructions? Are there flexible game
alternatives for indoor/outdoor and large/small groups?
14. Snacks-Are they connected to the theme or Bible
story? Are the ingredients cost-effective for large groups of
children? Are they new/fresh? Will they be easy to make with
children? Are the snacks kid-built? Are they kid-friendly?
15. Adaptability-Is it adaptable to a back yard or
nontraditional setting? Can you use the material for other programs
in your church?
16. Opening/Closing-Are they age-appropriate? Are they
appealing to kids (i.e., not dorky)? Are there ideas for a closing
event with parents?
17. Drama-Are there ideas for child-oriented skits and
18. Format-Are there relational connections-kid to adult?
Are there ideas for five- or 10-day options?
19. Follow-up-Are there church tie-ins? Are there helps
to plug in kids to ongoing Sunday school programs? Are there tools
to get information on kids?
20. Registration-Are there registration supplies? ideas
for preregistration? sample forms?
OUR CONSULTING TEAM
All our VBS evaluators are uniquely qualified to evaluate and
recommend the very best VBS curricula to you.
*Keith Johnson is the pastor to children at Wooddale Church in
Eden Prairie, Minnesota. With a staff of four, Keith oversees a
ministry to over 900 children. With a staff of 14, Keith oversees
the largest preschool in the state of Minnesota. He earned his M.A.
in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary. Keith is a
prolific author and workshop leader.
*Robbie Joshua is children's pastor at Faith Community Church in
West Covina, California. She oversees nine departments and a
volunteer staff of 300. Prior to full-time ministry, Robbie served
as an educator and administrator for more than 20 years in the Los
Angeles schools. She was a training teacher for the University of
California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern
California. She was also a key player in the development of a
curriculum for inner city gifted and talented students.
*Carmen Kamrath is the director of children's ministries at
Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Arizona. She has served in
children's ministry for more than seven years and has written
several articles for Children's Ministry Magazine. Carmen has a
B.A. in psychology and is working on her M.A. in education. She has
developed a large summer camp program that reaches more than 1,500
children in her community.
*Debbie Neufeld has been interested in vacation Bible school since
childhood. One of her first and greatest joys in ministry was
planning and organizing her church VBS program. "Good, creative VBS
material was the key to success!" Debbie says. For 20 years, Debbie
has been involved in various aspects of children's ministries. She
is currently the children's coordinator at Grant Memorial Baptist
Church in Winnipeg, Canada.
Check out our reviewers' comments on the following pages to select
and tune-up your VBS program this year.