Churches are as unique as people. I’d bet it safe to say that no two churches are alike. And because of that, what works for one church (or even MOST churches) may not work for YOUR Church. I’m talking to pastors and pastors’ wives here.
We pastor (He has the degree and title, I’m just along for the fun!) a small rural church. The type of church that often goes unnoticed. However, if we were to overlook this small rural church, and so did everyone else… our small rural town would go unreached. So we count ourselves blessed and privileged to be called here for this time.
That said, it’s HARD! There are very few resources for the small rural church. (or the small church in any setting). Our funds are not large, our volunteers are not as abundant, our towns are not that easy to reach, either. And to top it off, our time is often spent between two jobs. Many small church pastors are bi vocational, leaving limited time to be accessible.
I am blessed that I get to stay home with the kids and try to carry some of the weight for the church. I am also blessed that between the two of us, we found a part-time job, so neither one of us is away for many hours a day or week. (He works 8-11 hrs a week, I work 8 hours a week). This makes it easier for us to do some of these bigger projects.
So this past summer I was tired of spending money on a VBS (Vacation Bible School) curriculum, or even borrowing from a bigger church only to find it was written for a church with much bigger resources than we had (mainly volunteers!). So early in the spring I set out to just write my own. We had done many VBSes in the past and knew the basic skeleton of how to run one smoothly, so all we had to do was fill in the time slots. I’m very fluent in pintrest, google, and youtube… so I figured if I just took the time, I could come up with something that would entertain the kids for a couple of hours each night. Plus, I have 4 children, one in just about every age category, so I used their insights as well. And when all was said and done my kids, and the community kids exclaimed that this was the best year yet! I don’t take the credit, half of the things were written out of desperation and a prayer, “Oh, Jesus, PLEASE help me! I’ve scoured the internet for a VBS that will work for us… and have come up dry! When I place this pencil to this paper, will you please write for me?” And what came out was exactly what we went with, no 2nd draft… now THAT is God!
So, I fine tuned it over the next 6 months and came up with a 65 page VBS guide for the small church leader. I had no clue if there was a need for it until I posted it in a few small church forums. The response was eye-opening! There is a great need for good small church VBS curriculum! Some wanted to see it in a more visual sense, So, below you can download our VBS FOR FREE and tweak it to fit your needs. I also will post some pictures to give a clearer view of how much fun we had with this.
If you have any questions at all, please email me, I’ve never written anything like this before, so I may have left out some really important information without realizing it. email@example.com
Camp VBS is a 4 night VBS focusing on being brave. Each night is 2 hours. There is an opening rally with songs, a game, and a skit. Then 3- 20minute classes (Story time, snack, and games) and then a closing rally where we did 1 song and a “Game show” called BRAVE FACTOR. Brave Factor had 4 parts to it. An Educational Fact that dispels myths about scary things (bats, spiders, snakes… and Back to School). Egg Breaker, where kids compete against the game host (Billy Bob) in a game with 12 eggs. 11 hard-boiled, 1 raw. They take turns randomly selecting eggs until the raw egg is picked. Whats in the Box is a game where kids feel something (usually slimy and gross) and try to guess what they are feeling. And lastly they did Gummy Vs. Real. One volunteer vs Billy Bob. One gets a gummy and the other gets the real version. In the middle of it all, when the buzzer buzzed, 2 volunteers would engage in a beanboozle challenge. Jelly Belly makes these. One gets something tasty, one gets something gross… but the jelly beans look the same.
For more details, see the pictures below, otherwise, download the guide, and enjoy!
(Click the link below the image to download)
Our sport was done around the newly added Gaga Ball pit that we added to our property. You can google “How to build a Gaga Ball Pit” and find all kinds of ways. This cost us less than $200. And we put it together just the two of us and a friend who could cut the board… and really he did a LOT more, but less than 4 eager workers!)
Here was our stage. We did our story time in this room for 2 reasons. 1, we gathered around the campfire for the Bible stories. It was already decorated, and kept kids out of the way of other activities. And 2. We did not have an extra helper for Story time, so we wanted the leader and kids to be in a wide open area. A full sanctuary where some adults sat and watched, or if they weren’t there, anyone could walk in at anytime. It is not wise for one adult to be alone with children, always have 2 adults when you can. But if you can’t, be sure your adult is out in the open.
The sky and clouds are $1 table cloths from Walmart or Dollar Tree. Buy some spray adhesive to attach your clouds, super easy!
Borrow trees from people at church, and if you have a piano, hide it behind a “waterfall” haha.
We gave the tent away, the orange chair, fishing poles, and a walkie-talkie. We got the logs from a church attendee who then donated them to anyone who would come pick them up (THAT was a huge hit in the community!)
The banner was purchased with Hobby Lobby’s 40% off coupon… be sure to take a friend so each of you can buy separately and get them cheaper (this is two tied together!)
For Team points, the kids could dress in their team colors. Each teammate who sported their color got 10 points for their team… POINTS are the key to engaging kids! They’ll do ANYTHING for points.
The girls are wearing their worship team shirts. I printed the word Brave, cut it, laid it on the shirt then sprayed it with fabric spray paint and then picked up the word and got these SUPER CUTE shirts for our worship team!
Our Worship team was just 3 girls. 2 belong to me, and one is a family friend. I had them watch you tube videos (the links are in the pdf download) and put together moves for the songs. Then they practiced, practiced, practiced. They started about 3 weeks before VBS started. This leaves more adults to crowd control.
Now for our Characters… This is Daisy Diva… she loves pink, and anything that sparkles.. she hates dirt, and anything outdoors.
But she did get “Most Improved Camper”. This can be printed off of any website or publisher. It’s silly, but a good prop.
This is Billy Bob! Our Character of Billy Bob has made an appearance every year. Pastor, is also a main character of the skits, so all the kids know him. He changes his shirt, takes off his glasses, and adds a big yellow clown wig. He speaks with a hillbilly accent and acts super silly. When asked if Pastor is Billy Bob, Pastor always replies, “Well, we’re never in the same room at the same time… so…” The kids KNOW it’s Pastor, but play along and even shout “Billy Bob” to him when they see him around town. This is a GREAT way to connect with kids in your community. This year, since he was the host of BRAVE FACTOR, he wore a suit coat and tie with his tee shirt! (I sure do love this man!)
Our “What’s in the box” box. Just cut some arches half way up on the side of a box, be sure they are flexible, and their hands can fit inside and reach the item that is hiding inside.
The game Egg Breaker. To save on cleaning up egg off the carpet, play this game (take turns picking an egg to break on your head… there are 11 hard boiled eggs to 1 raw egg, the one who gets the raw egg loses). We placed a big black trashbag with a head hole cut in it over the student volunteer to protect their clothing.
At random times, we had a sound buzz, it was “BEAN BOOZLE” time. And Billy Bob called one volunteer up. The volunteer chose a friend and each kid got a jelly belly. One got a favorable flavor, the other got a nasty flavor… but they look identical. So did they get chocolate pudding… or dog food!!! *Have a trashcan handy!*
This is the game “Gummy versus Real”. We used regular church platters, and big mixing bowls on top. One of them got a gummy, and the other got real. To keep kids from eating nasty things (and to prevent puking), the kids ALWAYS got the gummy version. We’d ask them “A or B” without telling them which was A and which was B… it just “so happened” they always picked the gummy version.
Our Gummy vs Real items were: Sardines vs swedish fish; Gummy squid vs Calamari; A long gummy snake vs dried snake… and once they knew the routine, and figured how the kid always got the gummy the last night we did small gummy bears vs LARGE Gummy Bear. The kids opened theirs first every time but this time Billy Bob opened his, and when they saw that he had the gummy bears, they panicked a bit… but then they got the large Gummy bear, it was great!
The winning team for the week got to put pies in Pastor’s face. We normally do this outside, but it was pouring rain this particular night… so he was sitting in the baby pool, with sheets all around for flying whip cream. But remember, stains on the carpet just prove that your church is doing WORK!
Snacks… Like I said before, Pintrest is your friend. And gave me all my ideas for snacks! Here are a few!
I made these the last day… they are “flames”. I laugh because I can so much better than this, and was super disappointed in myself. BUT… the kids LOVED them. Just reminds me that kids are great! Kids will love it so don’t hold back!
For our BRAVE FACTOR Educational facts, we googled some images… These look pretty scary!
So although it looks overwhelming, it’s not! Be BRAVE and VBS on! If you end up using this guide for your church, I’d be ever so blessed to know! Please either leave me a comment, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless, you and remember it’s not about numbers, it’s about passion and doing God’s will!