Volunteers Make VBS Glow

A man holding pottery that he is paintingTo pull off a black-light VBS, a small team of volunteers must start working two to three months ahead. As VBS gets closer, invite more and more volunteers to be involved.

Alisa Greene, wife of Pastor Jimmy Greene at Higher Ground Baptist Church in Lexington, N.C., has been overseeing the creation of black-light VBSes for over 20 years. Here are her suggestions for the work that needs to be accomplished one to two weeks before VBS.

Two weeks before VBS

  1. Take care of the last-minute details.Glow in the dark cacti spines against a black background

In 2019 with Giddyup Junction, Alisa used over 30 cacti in her decorating. She needed to add glow-in-the-dark spines to them. “You can never have too many volunteers when it comes to cutting out little white pricks to glue on the cactus,” she says. Now is the time to take care of any last-minute decorating details like spines for cacti or sea urchins.

  1. Keep volunteers busy.

Assign volunteers to cut scraps of leftover glow-in-the-dark poster board and paper. Instead of throwing scraps away, Alisa says it works great to cut the scraps into triangles that can then be glued onto black cardboard. Hint: Most people enjoy the fellowship of sitting and chatting while they work.

One week before VBS

  1. Transform your sanctuary and other spaces.

Hang the rolls of black plastic. The plastic can be placed on the walls and ceilings. Be sure to keep the floors safe and free from anything that might cause a child to slip and fall.

  1. Put the black lights in place.

    Higher Ground Baptist Church Glow in the dark VBS

    In 2019 Higher Ground Baptist Church created a panoramic view of a glowing Giddyup Junction.

Place the freestanding black lights where you want them and replace the white ceiling lights with black lights. The standing lights are usually placed vertically on each side of the stage while the horizontal lights can be placed center stage. Alisa’s church exchanges half the white bulbs with black lights the Sunday before VBS. This not only demonstrates the glow-in-the-dark decorating to first time viewers, but also sets the scene for the introductory skit. Hint: Place a few freestanding black lights or LED lights near the stage to get the best affect. Alisa says that in her church “there is a panoramic view on all four walls of glow-in-the-dark items along with items hanging from the ceiling.”

  1. Remove the other half of the lights and replace them with black lights.

This is a good job for agile volunteers who don’t mind climbing ladders and changing light bulbs.

  1. For mounting, use easily removable tape on the back of each small glow-in-the-dark item.


After VBS

What do you do with all your great glow-in-the-dark decor after VBS? Ask volunteers to help you pack up and put away reusable black-light items—either to store them or to give/loan them to another church.

  1. Store items to be used again.

Many characters can be altered or redressed and used again. Alisa says, “You can never have too many flowers, stars, butterflies, lady bugs, small forest animals. Many of these items can be made your first years of black-light VBS and saved and reused year after year.” This year’s animals, townspeople, etc. could come in handy for future VBS themes. So, remove the tape on the back of reusable items and store them. Hint: Flat boxes work best for larger items. Such boxes are generally available from teacher-supply stores and websites.

  1. Give away your bigger items.

Alisa says that her church doesn’t have storage space for many big 3D items, like planes, campers, and buildings. She suggests sharing them with other churches. Hint: Offer the items to the VBS Community or on your church’s website. “The blessings get doubled with sharing,” says Alisa. In 2019 Alisa’s church was excited to share VBS items with Christians in the Philippines.


Higher Ground Baptist Church uses black lighting for its Christmas programs too. See photos on Facebook.

This is part 3 of a three-part series, How to Do VBS in the Dark.

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