Shorter Program, Same Power: A Three-Day VBS

VBS is famous for its exciting, eternal impact. But can you pack all that bang into three days? Yes! If God leads in that direction for your church, you can get every inch of the mileage in terms of fun, ministry to kids, and eternal results that you’d expect from a traditional VBS schedule.

For a three-day VBS, you’ll use the same staffing, decorations, and publicity as described in the Director Guide for a traditional VBS. Going all out with decorations will help build excitement for VBS in your church. Even adults love to see an everyday space transformed by fun, thematic decorations!

Options, Choices & Adjustments

The letter spelling "option" individually attached to a bulletin board with a pushpinThe adjustments you’ll have to make are fairly simple. First, decide whether your VBS will have a shorter or longer program. The longer program would last about five hours for the first two days and allow all five lessons to be taught. For a shorter program, you could choose three lessons, and each day would last about two and a half hours.

Next, decide when your VBS will be held. A three-day VBS could be a weekend program ending on Sunday night, a back-to-school event, or another time that ties in well with your children’s ministry schedule.

Longer Program

This approach allows most of a full VBS to be fit into three days. The suggested schedule below will help kids stay engaged the whole way through by keeping the pace fun and varied. Allow three to five minutes when transitioning from one event to the next during VBS.

  • Day 1: about five hours; covers lessons 1 and 2.
  • Day 2: about five hours; covers lessons 3 and 4.
  • Day 3: about two and a half hours; covers lesson 5. This day could double as a closing program. So if your three-day VBS is held on a weekend, the closing program could be on Sunday night. (If a shorter length of time is best for day 1, you could also move the day 3 schedule to the first day and teach lesson 1.)
  • As a focused opportunity for students in the Youth Department, consider an extended time slot instead of the second rotation for days 1 and 2. This is an opportunity for a service project related to the VBS theme, or for helping with younger age groups, or to develop good Christian friendships through games or other activities teens enjoy.

Shorter Program

“A three-day VBS is perfect for our summer. But five hours a day is just too much for my church.” No problem! Two and a half hours each day are all you need to cover the highlights. For this option, select three of the lessons that will especially communicate the heart of the VBS theme to children. The daily plan throughout is the same as day 3 of the longer option (see the schedule below). Your VBS can be fun and effective while keeping to a calendar-friendly time frame.

  • Allow three to five minutes when transitioning from one event to the next.
  • Follow-up is always important after VBS; but especially with this shorter option, make the most of contact information you gather for children and families. The work God is doing will continue in the days and weeks afterward.
  • This emphasis on follow-up can be a real boost if you use VBS as a way of connecting to fall programs or other ministries to children and families.

 

In both the shorter and longer schedules, one way to attract new families is to make room for the entire family to join in the VBS fun on day 3. Set up extra chairs for lesson time and snack time, set up a place for family members to watch games, and allow them to do the craft with their children. Consider having a cookout, ice-cream social, or other celebration afterward—enjoying time together could draw in families from the community and your church.

Your Program

Could it be for you? A three-day VBS—less space on the calendar than a traditional VBS—but eternal results! The fun, excitement, and learning are packed into a memorable time span. With good preparation and planning, you’ll be ready for what could be the best three days of the summer for your children’s ministry!

 

Schedules

Days 1 and 2 (Longer Schedule)

Time     Pre-Primary Primary Middler Junior Youth
(10 min) Opening Assembly Time
(25 min) Bible Exploration Time 1
(15 min) Crafts Activity Sheets Music & Missions Snacks Games
(15 min) Games Crafts Activity Sheets Music & Missions Snacks
(15 min) Snacks Games Crafts Activity Sheets Music & Missions
(15 min) Music & Missions Snacks Games Crafts Activity Sheets
(15 min) Activity Sheets Music & Missions Snacks Games Crafts
(20 min) Middle Assembly Time OR Lunch/Dinner
(25 min) Bible Exploration Time 2
(15 min) Games Music & Missions Snacks Crafts  

Special Activity: Youth

(15 min) Music & Missions Snacks Crafts Games
(15 min) Snacks Crafts Games Music & Missions
(15 min) Crafts Games Music & Missions Snacks
(10 min) Closing Assembly Time

 

Day 3 (Longer Schedule) / All Days (Shorter Schedule)

Time     Pre-Primary Primary Middler Junior Youth
(10 min) Opening Assembly Time
(25 min) Bible Exploration Time
(15 min) Crafts Activity Sheets Music & Missions Snacks Games
(15 min) Games Crafts Activity Sheets Music & Missions Snacks
(15 min) Snacks Games Crafts Activity Sheets Music & Missions
(15 min) Music & Missions Snacks Games Crafts Activity Sheets
(15 min) Activity Sheets Music & Missions Snacks Games Crafts
(10 min) Closing Assembly Time

 

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