The Best VBS Workbook Ever!

Lisa Brown

Jan/2017, 160 Pages, PAPERBACK, 8.5 x 11

ISBN-13: 9780819233011



• Enables organizers to envision and implement a VBS program customized for the local church
• Practical, comprehensive, from-the-ground-up approach to VBS

Designing a Vacation Bible School program, as opposed to choosing one of the many off-the-shelf packages, is a labor of love. It considers the unique perspective of children and invests accordingly. It's a home-cooked meal compared to fast food. It sends a message to parents that a church values children enough to identify and meet their specific needs in their community at a particular moment in time. Well-designed VBS programs speak to children with respect, love, and patience, offering opportunity for authentic spiritual growth, not to mention an intentional theology that is reflective of the church. Finally, custom-designed VBS programs are a way to fully include children in the mission and ministry of the church rather than confine their unique gifts.

This book provides Christian educators with the tools they need to assess the needs and resources in their congregation, and to craft a creative program in response to that assessment. The Best VBS Workbook Ever offers direction and suggestions on theme, structure, logistics, program, activities, staffing and promotion.

Audience: Episcopal and other mainline churches looking for something more original and thoughtful than typical pre-packaged VBS programs, Directors of Christian Education, Directors of Children's Ministry, Camps and Retreat Centers, FORMA, Kanuga Christian Education conference, eFormation network

Read an excerpt

Lisa Brown is the former Director of Children's Ministry and Communications Coordinator at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Now a digital missionary for Membership Vision, she helps people find God in the digital space. Shepherding children and young people is her passion, and she has witnessed the profound experiential learning that occurs when children are fully engaged in an immersive program. She wants to share with other educators the techniques that she used to craft learning opportunities so that they can deeply engage children in faith formation. In addition to designing her own VBS programming, Brown has created Sunday school and confirmation programs, nursery school lessons, and Girl Scout and Boy Scout Camporees. She is also the co-founder of the Color ME Pittsburgh collaborative art installation.


Part I: The Vision
Chapter 1: The First Decision
Chapter 2: Know Your Congregation
Chapter 3: Know Your Audience
Chapter 4: Know Your Goals
Chapter 5: Know Your Theme

Part II: Executing the Vision
Chapter 6: Planning and Logistics
Chapter 7: Getting the Word Out
Chapter 8: Planning a Budget
Chapter 9: Registration Goals for Campers and Staff
Chapter 10: Building a Staff
Chapter 11: Sign 'Em Up! Getting Children Registered

Part III: Living Into the Vision
Chapter 12: Bringing Your Theme to Life
Chapter 13: The Opening Gathering
Chapter 14: Young Children and Their Needs
Chapter 15: Choosing Bible Stories and Activities
Chapter 16: Music Activities
Chapter 17:Arts and Crafts Activities
Chapter 18: Prayer, Worship, and Sacred Spaces
Chapter 19: Performing Arts
Chapter 20: Games
Chapter 21: Snacks and Cooking Activities
Chapter 22: Non-Craft Project and Activities
Chapter 23: Maker Movement Projects
Chapter 24: Decorations and Sets
Chapter 25: T-Shirts and Swag

Part IV: The Vision Becomes a Reality
Chapter 26: Building a Schedule
Chapter 27: Your Staff
Chapter 28: Staff Training and Certification
Chapter 29: Emergency Preparedness
Chapter 30: Off-Site Transportation and Safety Training
Chapter 31: VBS: A Typical Day
Chapter 32: Continuing the Relationship
Conclusion: Launch

Appendix A: A Suggested Planning and Publicity Schedule
Appendix B: You'll Know the Right Theme When It Happens
Appendix C: Building Sets and Decoration Ideas
Appendix D: Safeguards for Children and Youth

“Lisa Brown has placed into our hands the most comprehensive and thoughtful Vacation Bible School resource I have ever seen! The Best VBS Workbook Ever offers an invaluable amount of information on how to create a theologically sound, developmentally appropriate, and truly joyful experience for your congregation and the wider community. Lisa walks us through each vital step from dreaming to doing with skill, humor, and grace. A treasure for any formation leader.”
––Emily Slichter Given, Director of Children and Family Ministries, St. Michael & All Angels, Dallas and author of Building Faith Brick by Brick

“Lisa's workbook is full of wisdom and encouragement for both new and experienced VBS directors. The checklists and charts are immensely helpful. But this is not simply a ‘how to’ book. Along with the valuable nuts and bolts, Lisa keeps calling us back to the ‘why,’ pushing us to remember the children we're serving and the way they are being formed by each element of the program we offer. I can't wait to use it as a resource with my VBS team.”
––Kat Mercer, Children's Ministry Coordinator, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri

“Lisa has thought of everything you could possibly need to create and implement a VBS program for your church and presents it in a simple, organized fashion that can be adapted for any size congregation. Instead of just using a VBS program from a box, Lisa invites you to think outside the box in creating a VBS that is rooted in the unique qualities of your congregation, the needs of the children who will come, and the goals of your ministry. Lisa leaves no stone unturned as she walks you through every step: from budgets to Bible stories, communication to crafts, and staff to snacks. I’ve directed VBS for almost thirty years and I still found countless helpful tips and strategies in this book. This is essential for anyone leading VBS programs; it truly is the best VBS workbook ever!
––Sue Van Oss, Director of Christian Formation, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Duluth, Minnesota

“This book covers every aspect of offering VBS, from preliminary planning to continuing relationships with families after your VBS ends. The detailed information will be useful for seasoned VBS directors as well as first-timers. Along with all the practical advice, I especially appreciated the author’s tips on creating your own VBS curriculum and tailoring it to fit your congregation’s goals, theology, and unique identity.”
––Debbie Kolacki, Senior Consultant for Practical Resources for Churches

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  • Vacation Bible School
  • Faith-Formation
  • Summer Church Programs
  • Summer Christian Education

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