The Challenge of VBS Scheduling!

From the 1980s and throughout the 1990s VBS ran for five days and three hours each day. Time has brought changes. While many still have their VBS during the morning hours, over 60% of churches have moved VBS to the evening hours. The main reason for this shift has been the need for workers. This allows people to work a full day and still serve in VBS. It's a demanding schedule for the workers, but the effort is worth it. If you're looking for some innovative scheduling solutions read on!

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The All-Day VBS

If you're a downtown church in a larger city and you know to reach children with VBS in the morning, you need to plan something for them in the afternoon. An example is First Baptist Church of Nashville, TN. The church sponsors a day long day-camp for the children of parents who work downtown. During VBS, all the kids from day-camp (as well as kids who just come for VBS) go to VBS in the mornings and then can attend day-camp activities in the afternoons. Kids who stay for afternoon day-camp bring their lunch and then are treated to crafts, field trips, recreation, and more.

Another all-day schedule possibility involves a regular VBS schedule in the morning and using the afternoon for a VBS musical "camp." The camp provides a great opportunity for the kids to learn all the VBS musical songs, practice solos and speaking parts, build sets, and rehearse the musical for presentation on Family Night.

The Three-Day VBS Schedule

Like the all-day school, the three-day schedule grew out of necessity rather than choice. How do you plan VBS when you already have a crowded church calendar? The solution takes a little extra commitment from VBS leaders, but is a creative solution and might be an option for your church. It could work like this:

Day 1: Teach VBS Day 1 in the morning; Teach VBS Day 2 in the afternoon

Day 2: Teach VBS Day 3 in the morning; Teach VBS Day 4 in the afternoon

Day 3: Teach VBS Day 5 in the morning; Teach the VBS musical in the afternoon; Host Family Night in the evening

The One-Day VBS

The Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lufkin, Texas, has used the one-day VBS schedule for the past four years. Again the change was based on the need for workers. The day of choice for the one-day VBS for churches that have gone this route is Saturday. The second most popular choice for the one-day VBS is Sunday. A typical one-day VBS might follow this schedule:

8:00 a.m. Continental breakfast

8:30 Worship Rally (the only worship rally of the day)

9:00-10:30 Day 1

10:30-12:00 Day 2

12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00-3:30 Day 3

3:30-5:00 Day 4

5:00-6:00 Dinner

6:00-7:30 Day 5

7:30 Family Night Celebration

The schedule for each "day" or session allows for only an hour and a half. Adjustments in the materials will have to be made by the workers to reduce them to fit the time available. Plan to have Opening and Closing Bible study for children in each "day" and then offer a different rotation option (crafts, music, missions, recreation) in each "day." For instance, music with Day 1, crafts with Day 2, recreation with Day 3, missions with Day 4, crafts (or another rotation site) with Day 5. While the day-long event can be fun and exciting, the schedule is not easy for younger children.

The Weekend VBS

This is somewhat like the one-day schedule, but with a little more breathing room. The schedule starts on Friday night and continues through Saturday, offering a slower pace. Again, the schedule is demanding for younger children, so workers need to plan their schedules to allow for the physical needs of their children.


5:30-6:00 p.m. Light dinner

6:00-6:30 Worship Rally

6:30-8:30 Day 1


8:00-8:30 a.m. Worship Rally

8:30-10:30 Day 2

10:30-11:00 Worship Rally

11:00-1:00 p.m. Day 3

1:00-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:00 Worship Rally

2:00-4:00 Day 4

4:00-6:00 Day 5

6:00 Worship Rally/Family Night

Adjusting the Curriculum
for a 10-Day VBS

LifeWay's VBS resources are easily adapted to a 10-day, extended schedule.

Day 1

Worship Rally

Day 1 Opening Bible Study

Rotation to sites

Day 2

Worship Rally

Day 1 Closing Bible Study

Rotation - use choices not used on Day 1

Day 3

Worship Rally

Day 2 Opening Bible Study

Rotation to sites

Day 4

Worship Rally

Day 2 Closing Bible Study

Rotation - use choices not used on Day 3

Day 5

Worship Rally

Day 3 Opening Bible Study

Rotation to sites

Day 6

Worship Rally

Day 3 Closing Bible Study

Rotation - use choices not used on Day 5

Day 7

Worship Rally

Day 4 Opening Bible Study

Rotation to sites

Day 8

Worship Rally

Day 4 Closing Bible Study

Rotation - use choices not used on Day 7

Day 9

Worship Rally

Day 5 Opening Bible Study

Rotation to sites

Day 10

Worship Rally

Day 5 Closing Bible Study

Rotation - use choices not used on Day 9

Finally, the VBS Camp Option

The VBS leaders at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Port Angeles, Washington, are willing to do what it takes to reach the kids in their community in a very non-traditional way. The church offers a week- long VBS Camp. The church turns its grounds into a VBS camp, complete with a mess hall and tents for sleeping quarters.

The results speak for themselves. Since starting the VBS camp approach eight years ago, attendance has tripled.

If you have been looking for VBS scheduling options we hope we've given you some ideas you can take and use.

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