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I was asked to be the Vacation Bible School (VBS) director for our church one summer. I got the name of the curriculum publisher, ordered according to my predecessor, started gathering the usual suspects and asking them to repeat the jobs they had the year before. I basically phoned it all in. It was super easy.

VBS was fun, but it seemed like we were doing the same old same old. We invited the same kids, had the same rotations, even bought the same snacks as we had done many years before. I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart and convicting me that next year we should shake things up.

The next year I held our traditional VBS meeting and stood before my fellow sisters in Christ. I explained to them I had been convicted to try something completely different this year. As I outlined my changes, I could tell by their faces that I was not getting much buy in.

Number one on my list was inviting the apartment complex next door to our VBS. Our families always invited their friends and families, who pretty much attended church regularly at other places. Then our kids would go to their church VBS programs. We weren’t accomplishing any mission work quite frankly-isn’t that part of the purpose?

Next on my list was cutting VBS to three days. On the fourth day we would perform community service, and on the fifth day we would have a VBS play day at the local pool. The parents were extremely skeptical about these changes. But the biggest one hadn’t been announced.

I also told them that we were going to add Theater to the rotation and have the children act out the lesson for the day. We eliminated gym time and shortened the group times to make room for Theater. I also announced the kids would prepare one craft to be made over the three days, because I felt the craft rotation was a lot of hurrying to get each day’s project done in twenty minutes. My volunteers were not happy.

Then I gave the theme of VBS-Jonah and the Big Fish. Each teacher would be writing her own daily lesson plans, and the rotation leaders would be creating their own plan as well. I almost had a mutiny on my hands.

I reminded the theater leader that she had actually written children’s plays for her own kids, and she had acted in high school. She was more than qualified to do this. I reminded them all of the great power of the internet, and they could just Google “Jonah and the Big Fish” and be set for the summer. After they calmed down they all reluctantly agreed to give it a try. I had a distinct feeling this would be my last year as VBS director.

That VBS was absolutely without a doubt the best one we had ever had! Those leaders put their hearts and souls into writing their programs-they couldn’t phone in any of it. The kids loved the theater rotation-it was voted Kids’ Favorite. Our community service project was not well attended, but it actually was okay. We went door to door and handed out free boxes of cookies to an apartment complex. We stayed and chatted with the parents and the kids played with each other. Of course Play Day was a hit, and it was nice to wind down after the week and just have fun.

I was disappointed that we only had one attendee from the apartments next door, but it was one more than we’d ever had so that’s something. I also got my leaders to admit they had a lot of fun as they dusted off their creative juices and made VBS their own, and not just something pulled out of a box.

The next spring we hired a new pastor and his wife took over VBS. I was a little disappointed that she was not interested in how we did it the year before, but I was not surprised. Sometimes it’s just really hard to get out of our boxes. Sometimes we have to be pushed.

Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post. Please share your VBS experiences.

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