Want to a be huge success at VBS? Want kids to be excited about coming back the next day—and see them growing in their faith? Here are three simple secrets you can try right away.
- Be genuinely enthusiastic. I start off each Imagination Station by calling out “Did you bring your imagination??” Then I invite kids to tell me if they left their imaginations at home under their beds, or if they brought them along. And to make sure everyone has enough imagination for the day, I think of funny and silly ways that they can get more imitation so they have plenty for the day. We jump in puddles of pretend imagination, look in each other’s ears for a little extra, and find it in our pockets. Since it’s invisible, it’s always nearby and easy to get more of! My enthusiasm spreads to the kids, and they eagerly join in. If you’re excited to be there, they’ll be excited too.
- Engage with wonder. I do the same activity four times during one day at VBS. So when I add water to the snow seeds, I know what’s going to happen. But do I tell the kids ahead of time? No way! Instead, I engage their curiosity. “I wonder what’s going to happen! Do you have any guesses?” Treat every encounter with a new group of kids as if it’s your first time through the content. Because for them—it is!
- Listen well. I love hanging out with children at VBS, seeing their curiosity blossom, hearing their observations on the Imagination Station projects and how these relate to life. Kids share amazing things—sometimes funny and sometimes surprisingly deep—and it always keeps me on my toes. I want to be a good listener and find ways to affirm that what they say matters both to me and to God.
A final tip—a freebie! My best advice for anyone leading at VBS is to have fun. I’ve been leading at a Group VBS for 15 years and for me, it’s the most fun I have all summer. Be silly. Laugh a lot. Don’t get stressed about stuff that doesn’t matter anyway. Think like a kid. See this as a little window of opportunity to share joy and excitement for God and the surprising things he’s created. Make it awesome!
What’s your favorite role at VBS and how do you best engage kids? Let me know in the comments below!