We love VBS.
Tasha loves it because 1) it’s a great way to get to know children and their families before they move into youth ministry; and 2) she made a commitment to follow Jesus when her 6th grade friend Lisa Sullivan invited her to VBS.
Tim loves VBS because 1) it’s a great way to connect with students outside of youth ministry; and 2) he loves making crafts and eating gummy worms buried in oreo cookie crumbs and chocolate pudding.
Many youth leaders utilize VBS as a way to develop leaders within youth ministry. Students who volunteer to spend four hours every day for a full week playing with kids have at least a spark of leadership in them. VBS is a great way to explore and grow these gifts in your students’ lives. How can we help connect the dots for our students and encourage them to join the VBS team?
- Lead by example. We believe youth leaders (who have the margin in their schedules) should prioritize VBS the same way they prioritize youth events for several reasons. First, we’re all on the same team, and your commitment to kids ministry models health to the families in your church. Second, healthy kids ministry leads to healthy youth ministry. Third, it’s fun being a part of something where you’re not in charge but you still get to be a giant goofball!
- Build excitement. Many of your students had great VBS experiences when they were kids. Remind your students of the fun they had, and invite them to be a part of helping kids today have the same experience. In the months leading up to VBS, start using some classic VBS songs in your youth ministry programming. Have a great attitude about VBS. Group includes a superfun app called “Bible Buddies” in their VBS curriculum. We encouraged all of our student volunteers to download the app to share with families; they’re still playing with it weeks after VBS is over!
- Piggyback on the schedule. Our group group loves to eat all the leftover snacks, put together all the extra crafts, and keep the big inflatable water slide for a few additional hours. In some places – especially when VBS is scheduled during the day – you might even plan a “Youth Week” (insert your own snazzy hip title) each evening, doubling the excitement and momentum in your church community. Plus, the children’s ministry might get blamed for the mess!
- Have a great attitude. Don’t be the VBS Scrooge … you know, the person who rolls his eyes and whines about how loud kids are every time VBS is mentioned. Even saying things like, “I work with teenagers for a reason,” is too negative. Every kid at VBS is a child of God, and one day they may be a part of your youth ministry. It’s not too early to start being another healthy adult in their lives.
We often tell our students, “what you get out of something is directly related to what you put into it.” VBS works the same way. You could complain about the extra work, extra noise, and extra mess that VBS causes, or you can put on your crazy hat and mismatched socks and join the chaos. Plus, you get an unlimited supply of gummy worm dirt for a week!
– Tim and Tasha