Vacation Bible School (VBS) Planning Timeline

Following is a suggested timeline for planning Vacation Bible School. You might need to make variations based on your specific situation and what you have done to date but this will at least give you a general idea of what needs to be included and how it needs to keep flowing.
VBS Timeline for 11 to 12 Months Before

Evaluate your last VBS program:

  1. what might be good to carry over into the next VBS
  2. what should be done differently ... ways to improve

Evaluate shortly after the previous VBS so it is still fresh in your mind. This should include the previous leaders, some teachers, some attendees, some parents ... a cross section. Keep good notes to pass on to the next VBS director.

Begin to pray for the next Vacation Bible School.
Prayer is critical in the preparation process. Think about enlisting a prayer team to begin praying early in the process.

  • Pray for God's selection of leaders for the next program.
  • Pray God directs in the timing and format for the next VBS.
  • Pray God begins His work of preparing the hearts of teachers and workers who should serve.
  • Pray God continues to work in the hearts of those who attended the previous year and begins to prepare the hearts of those who will attend in the next year.

VBS Timeline for 9 to 10 Months Before

Choose the director of the VBS. This should happen before choosing the date so you do not have to choose a director based on who can be available during those dates.

Set the date for your Vacation Bible School. Get it on the calendar early so you can pick a prime time that does not conflict with other activities. Other events can then be planned around it. Ask the congregation to put the date on their calendars so they can be available during that time.

VBS Timeline for 7 to 9 Months Before

The director should recruit a leadership team. These would be individuals responsible for crafts, recreation, decorating, follow-up, publicity, refreshments, registration, teaching, worship (music), etc. They should be in on planning from this point on. The director should schedule meetings that include everyone on the team meeting together to coordinate VBS but also should meet with individual leaders to provide guidance and accountability as needed. The more a director can recruit leaders for various aspects, the more he/she can provide oversight to promote a smooth-flowing, coordinated whole.

Start comparing VBS Curriculum. Depending on when you will hold your program, this step could be done sooner or later. VBS themes for the next year are usually available late summer, early fall.

VBS Timeline for 6 Months Before

Choose the VBS curriculum and order the Starter Kit. You should obtain this material as early as you can so you can use it in planning.
Remind the congregation of getting the date on their calendars so they can be available to help.

VBS Timeline for 5 to 6 Months Before

Once your have your curriculum kit, start brainstorming and selecting crafts, games, refreshments, etc. you will use each day.
Review the budget you have to work with. Determine costs needed for the various aspects based on the curriculum you will be using and allocate funds accordingly to form a draft budget. Communicate the budget to your leadership team requesting feedback. Make any adjustments, determine ways to raise additional funds if needed (special offerings/donations, sponsorships, etc.) and then provide each leader with the final budget allotments.

VBS Timeline for 3 to 4 Months Before

Determine how you will promote VBS. Assign responsibilities, order materials from the publisher of your curriculum, or order supplies needed to make your own.
Begin making lists of supplies you will need for the various aspects and begin ordering supplies or determining what can be requested from the congregation.
Determine the number of teachers you will need and order teaching manuals and supplies. You could also order student supplies (i.e., workbooks) using last year's attendance as a guide or making a projection based on the number of children in your church plus allowance for visitors.
Inform the congregation that you will soon be recruiting. Ask them to start praying about possible involvement.

VBS Timeline for 2 to 3 Months Before

Plan the daily schedule. Include in the schedule an early arrival time for all workers to pray together and get any daily announcements. Do this before you start recruiting workers so you can provide people with as much information about expectations as possible.
Plan date for total staff training. Again, you want to be able to give them this date right from the start. The more information you can provide people with in advance, the better.
Begin recruiting additional workers needed for the various aspects ... teachers, teacher's helpers, support staff for various aspects like crafts, recreation, decorating, refreshments, etc. If you have a leadership team composed of leaders over these various aspects, they can do their own recruiting. However, there needs to be some central coordination so you do not keep asking the same people. Perhaps you could sit down as a team before beginning this process with a list of people in the church and determine who will be contacting whom. When you contact people, inform them of the theme, schedule, and support that will be provided (training, materials). Ask them to set aside the training date. Try to recruit based on spiritual gifting. There is a place for near all spiritual gifts in VBS.
Decide on the best use of your facilities. Make a floor map designating what rooms and outside areas will be used for what.

VBS Timeline for 2 Months Before

Begin promoting the VBS program through a variety of venues in both your church and community, stepping it up the closer it gets to the actual date.
Publish a list of materials you would like donated for crafts, refreshments, decorating, recreation, etc.

VBS Timeline for 6 Weeks Before

Reassess the ratio of workers to participants in light of the schedule and recruit additional help if needed.

VBS Timeline for 1 Month Before

Hold a staff training of all leaders, teachers, helpers, staff support. Meet as an entire team to bring everyone on page regarding the development of the theme and overall objective. Walk them through the flow of each session's schedule, inform them of facility allocation, and any other general information they should know. Then break into groups based on the various aspects to discuss details of their responsibilities leading up to and during VBS. Schedule any further planning dates according to this grouping.
Begin collecting materials you requested to be donated.
Begin preregistration. Keep tabs on numbers as preregistrations come in, determine if you need to order extra supplies, and get them ordered so they will be there on time. (Preregistration Ideas: in Sunday School classes and other pre-existing programs, at a pre-registration table set up in lobby every week leading up to VBS, ability to fill out a form online at your church's website, mail-in cards, etc.)

VBS Timeline for 2 to 3 Weeks Before

Meet with key leaders only to report on progress, needs, and responsibilities yet to be completed. Be sure to spend time praying together.
Recruit additional support staff if preregistration numbers indicate you need additional help.

VBS Timeline for 1 Week Before

Dedicate and pray over all VBS workers during a worship service.
Based on preregistrations, develop preliminary class rosters to distribute to teachers.
Begin decorating and preparing facilities. This would include signage with directions, room assignments, etc.

VBS Timeline for 1st Day

Distribute revised class rosters to teachers.
Get feedback from leaders who should be getting feedback from teachers, helpers, and support staff.
Plan any adjustments needed for the next session.

VBS Timeline for Daily

Meet together as a team early before starting time for prayer and any announcements of changes, etc.
Trust God to work through this VBS in the lives of all in attendance.
Get feedback from leaders who should be getting feedback from teachers, helpers, and support staff.
Plan any adjustments needed for the next session.

VBS Timeline for After

Begin follow-up.
Begin the process again from the top of this page.

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