Here's your launching pad for a successful voyage into VBS
Plus: A comprehensive review of 14 VBS curricula kits
In the movie Independence Day, a loathsome band of alien invaders
is poised to take over the world. The ensuing battle is very much
one-sided. The best Earthling pilots and warriors have been
destroyed, and all that's left is a motley crew of pilots who
aren't sure which button is which on their fighter jets.
The president of the United States steps to the podium and gives
a rousing speech. "We will not go silently into the night!" he
chillingly recites. And then the pilots take off into the air,
unsure of their fate. When it appears that they've lost the battle,
a daring lone pilot sacrifices himself to save the world. Victory
In a quiet church classroom, a new VBS director sits with a list
of potential VBS workers. All the experienced teachers will be on
vacation, she's told. She has a ridiculously low budget to work
with, and the Christian education committee is hoping that VBS will
be the first week of summer.
This thing called VBS, although it hasn't sprouted tentacles,
must look like an alien creature that's about to not only eat her
lunch, but also destroy her life. What's a VBS director to do?
Do not go silently into the night! Or, in other words, don't
despair. There's a not-so-motley crew just waiting to jump on board
and change kids' lives this summer. Jesus says in Matthew 9:37 that
"the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray
to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the
So first of all-pray.
Then dive into Children's Ministry Magazine's annual vacation
Bible school curriculum review. Our outside reviewers have spent
hours evaluating this year's offerings. Their advance legwork in
nailing down what's good and what's not so good about 14 of this
year's VBS kits will launch your search for the best curriculum
into warp speed.
And this year, we've provided you with a helpful evaluation
sheet to conduct your own review. Take a look at the kits that grab
your attention, order sample kits, sit down with your VBS team, and
pick apart the kits. We're praying that because of your work, the
kids in your community will be beamed up to a
never-before-experienced encounter with the most celestial
What makes a good VBS? We know what we look for-and our reviewers
had some pretty strong opinions too. But we thought it would be
interesting to talk to some end-users of VBS-people like parents,
children, and you. After all, these people are the final frontier
that VBS curriculum companies are trying to reach.
Eleven-year-old Chris Turpin of Richmond, Kentucky, understands
what vacation Bible school is trying to achieve each summer. "You
have to learn about Christ," Chris says, "but it has to be fun too.
Make it interesting."
And how do you do that? Include the elements that the experts
say are crucial to a great VBS.
The Fun Factor-"A good vacation Bible school is one
that really teaches the truth about Jesus but it is also fun," says
Joann Becker, a director of parish education in Plantation,
Florida. "It teaches kids that church is a warm, welcoming place
where they can learn about their Savior."
Parents agree. "As a parent, it's important to see your child
having fun," says Sandy Murphy of Fox Point, Wisconsin. "They need
to be having fun and learning at the same time. In summer when kids
are off school, fun should be the focus, not academics."
Hands-On Learning-"I think what makes a good vacation
Bible school is when kids are always doing something, when there's
a point each day, and when that point is emphasized in every area
the kids go to," says Brenda
Berding, a director of religious education in Fishers, Indiana.
"What we're covering needs to come alive for the children. When
putting a VBS together, people need to think 'how is the child
going to view this? How can the child use this in his or her life?'
Emily Fairbanks, a parent in Arlington, Texas, stresses the
importance of variety. She says, "Kids have different learning
styles so a learning station approach works well-where there's lots
of change and opportunities to do a variety of things, like music,
drama, and so on. It should be action-packed. Kids should go from
thing to thing-not just sit in a room all day."
This approach is also the most teacher-friendly, according to
Lydia Ruffin, a Mobile, Alabama parent. "I think theme-based
curricula are the best, especially where children move from room to
room," Lydia says. "Everybody's so busy right now; this way
teachers only need to learn one lesson and then do the same
activity each night. They become familiar with it, and they can
adapt it throughout the week for different age groups."
Rockin' Music-For 9-year-old Danielle Sheahan of
Kingston, Ontario, music is the best part. A good VBS has to have
"fast songs with a beat and a bit of rock. Kids find the slow hymns
boring sometimes," Danielle says.
Thirteen-year-old Marcus Klem of Ontario, New York, agrees with
Danielle. "I like fast songs. The ones last summer were African
Eleven-year-old Tripp Morris of Tifton, Georgia, says, "I like
the singing when it's different every time you go."