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buckle your seatbelt!


by Susan (VBS) Henderson

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit… 1 Corinthians 12:4

ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF. I am a member of the body of Christ, gifted by the Holy Spirit to be Jesus to a dying world. I am not, however, a crafter. You would think the Almighty would have placed this uncreative lump of clay in an equally un-crafty congregation, but no! He dropped the hands that can’t cut straight, the mouth that can’t hold straight pins, and the eyes that can’t see a steeple in a popsicle stick right in the middle of a church filled with homespun potholders, decoupaged flowerpots, and crosses fashioned from burnt match sticks. In my fifteen years as a volunteer at Vacation Bible School, I have super-glued my fingers together, set off the smoke detector (in my infamous attempt to recreate the matchstick cross), and created a stained glass effect on the carpet with “washable” paint. Talk about FALSE advertising!

If you glance down the craft aisle with a look of trepidation, I feel your pain. Allow me to offer a few emergency responses to your crafting crises that will alleviate the VBS nightmare we casually refer to as craft time. You might call it Craft CPR.

COORDINATE Successful crafts require meticulous planning. Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase and prepare all of your materials. Plan ahead for inevitable spills and gooey disasters by remembering newspaper or plastic tablecloths, baby wipes, paper towels, spray cleaner, extra trash bags, and paint shirts for each child.

PRACTICE Do the craft yourself before you teach it to the kids. (Although you probably should make sure someone else is within shouting distance just in case you run into more than you can handle!) If you can’t get the squiggle eyes to stay on the foam head, your kids probably won’t be able to accomplish the task either. Believe it or not, your craft deficiency is an asset to VBS. Unlike seasoned artists who plan overly complicated projects (think wood carving or soap sculpture), you will no doubt choose crafts that are practical for the kids and for you. Remember, if a craft is too hard for you, it will be too hard for the kids. Scrap it…and I don’t mean in one of those smarmy little books!

RECRUIT If your church is anything like mine, you are surrounded by expert craft artists. Draft them! Delegate the hands-on stuff (like super-gluing those squiggle eyes) to those incredible individuals God has gifted with the spiritual gift of craft!


Consider the following suggestions for making your VBS a Success:

1. Recruit teens. Don’t overlook your high school students as a valuable VBS asset. Consider the following as you involve your teens this summer:

  • Teens make great teaching assistants, and game coordinators

  • Teens make excellent craft helpers (they haven’t learned to dread crafts).

  • Ask an adult to lead devotions for teen volunteers each day before VBS starts.

  • Involve your teens in advertising; passing out flyers, and encourage teens to ask their friends to bring younger brothers and sisters.

2. Make the most of reproducible materials. Many VBS curriculums contain reproducible items. Use the following suggestions to get the most out of them:

  • Posters should be laminated (use clear contact paper if a laminator is not available) and hung in local businesses, supermarkets, at the local playground, and in your church at least two weeks prior to your VBS. Note: Be sure to fill in your church’s VBS information in the space provided BEFORE laminating.

  • Use colored paper when making copies. It costs only a few cents more than white paper, and it certainly adds pizzazz.

  • Get your kids to color flyers. Most VBS curriculums include reproducible flyers to distribute. Ask the children in your church to color the flyers before you send them out. It adds a personal touch, gets the kids involved, and communicates to readers that your church is a kid-friendly place.

3. Develop a promotional plan. The methods with which you promote VBS are not as important as the plan of action. Consider the following ideas for giving your VBS attendance a boost:

  • Mail flyers to local homes and churches. Include a letter that explains the theme of your VBS, highlights exciting events and activities, and provides a description of the church with concise directions and contact information.

  • Start an “each one bring one” campaign for kids. Emphasize the importance of bringing visitors. Sponsor a contest with a grand prize drawing. Every person who comes to VBS can enter…but children who bring friends can enter an additional time for every person they bring! Note: be sure to provide an additional small prize for every child who enters the drawing.

  • Hand out balloons at church with the VBS logo, dates, and times.

  • Send a letter to grandparents, emphasizing the importance of bringing grandchildren to VBS. (By the way, grandparents make great volunteers for VBS programs.)

Susan Henderson is the secretary of Purdy Elementary School in Purdy, MO. She has written several books, including And a Little Child Shall Lead Them, a devotional book about children, and several books in the Destination Reality series of curriculum available from Randall House Publication. Contact Susan at



©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists