If you are in kid's ministry you are most likely right in the middle of a super busy summer preparing for a major event or two. Whatever you call it: VBS, Kid's Camp, Kid's Week, Summer Slam, etc. you are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed, inadequate, and stressed about how it is all going to come together. I am right there with you! This year is my first time putting together a VBS, and it is a LOT of work. I have put together camps, major halloween/Easter events, and lock-ins, but VBS is the monster of all kid's ministry events. I haven't even had the time to blog these last few weeks since all my spare time is consumed with VBS planning. There are so many details that go into planning a VBS that it is easy to get stressed out for weeks or months about just one event.
I have put together 5 steps to help us all survive VBStress, and make it to the fall in one piece.
Step 1: Get Organized
There are so many meetings, purchases, activities, schedules, and details that go into making a VBS great. If you're not careful, your brain and storage areas will begin to look like a bomb went off. Lists and labels are your friends. Make lists of everything. Simply getting it all on a list and out of your brain will make you feel a lot less stressed. I like to use the app Wunderlist to keep my lists digitally, but a simple note pad on my desk works too. Most likely, your purchases are starting to pile up, and you will want to get all of your supplies organized as well, so my advice is to go through everything. Last week, we went through everything, organized it into clear tubs, and labeled them. I found stuff that I had bought over a month ago, and completely forgot about. This step will work wonders for your VBStress.
Step 2: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
That might be a dirty word for some of you, but you can't put your VBS together alone. It can be hard for me to let go of certain tasks in ministry because I feel like I'm the only one who knows how to do it the way I want it done. That may be true, but ministry is all about empowering and raising up other leaders. You can't do that while holding on to everything so tightly. Go back to step 1, and make a list of all the tasks that need to be done before VBS. Now, separate them into two categories: Things only I can do and things other people can do. Delegate all of the items in the second category to anyone who is capable and willing. I held a meeting about a week ago where I let my volunteers know that I had a lot of decorations, snacks, and small group activities that still needed to be prepared. The response was amazing! Some volunteers came to help organize and create decorations at the church, and others took snacks and small group activities home to prepare and bring back. Last week's delegation knocked many hours (possibly days!) off of my plate to work on things only I can do.
Step 3: Set Goals
While you are making all of those lists back at step 1 make sure you add some deadlines. Some tasks won't need to be finished until the day VBS begins, but other tasks have to be completed by a certain date. If you are buying t-shirts for VBS make sure you know when they need to be ordered to have them in time for VBS. If you are planning on having meetings, decoration days, practices, etc. you'll need to have those dates set in advance, communicate them to your volunteers, and make sure everything is ready by those dates. Setting goals will keep you from having a looming to-do list that is completely disorganized.
Step 4: Remember the Why
Don't fall prey to getting so caught up in all of the practical details of putting VBS together that you forget the "why". Why did you decide to do VBS in the first place? What is your vision? My "why" is to see as many kids as possible come through the doors, learn about how much God loves them, and receive salvation for the first time. Don't let yourself forget the "why", and constantly present the "why" to your VBS team and pastoral staff. If you don't believe in your vision and cast it out, no one will.
Step 5: Pray
This might seem overly obvious or cliché, but it's easy to forget about prayer when you are so busy preparing. One of my volunteers has really challenged me in this area. She is always praying for our VBS and the kids who will be coming, even while she creates VBS decor on the floor. Sometimes we just need to stop, be still, and pray. When the stress starts to slip in, fight it with prayer.
I hope these 5 steps will help you as you prepare for your VBS and other summer activities. I will be praying for you and your teams as we reach thousands of kids this summer through VBS. What are your tips for reducing VBStress, and making it unforgettable event for kids and families?