Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Dollars and Cents of Vacation Bible School

While there are certainly excellent and compelling reasons for churches to plan and present a Vacation Bible School to the children in their church and community, the realities of the Dollars and Cents can impact if a church is able to do so. If your church chooses to go ahead with VBS for summer 2011, the Dollar and Cents of it all can again come into play as you determine which resources you will use. I once had someone from a publisher tell me if a church really cared about the children in their ministry they would spend whatever they had to, to have the best curriculum possible. I disagree. While I absolutely believe churches care about the children in their ministry, budgets are a very real and difficult reality. In this economy with so many people out of work our churches are struggling to meet their budget. VBS can be expensive and yet it is a very important - and in many cases the only outreach all year for many churches.


Today I'm going to take a look at the Dollars and Cents for the five VBS resources I reviewed this week. I'm happy to see in many of the director's materials some fun ideas of ways to raise money for VBS, but again, when so many people are unemployed and living pay check to pay check, there just may not be additional dollars for them to give to VBS. Obviously a starter kit is the first place to begin when purchasing VBS materials and from there you'll need to determine what - if any - student materials you will also utilize. As far as student materials I like the idea of being able to give children something each day that will remind them of the Bible lesson. I especially like the objects/cards that can be clipped or pinned to a backpack as they make great reminders! I also like the idea of being able to give children their own copy of the music . . . of course these things take money and your budget just might not have room for them. So, what will it cost and how can we move ahead with VBS on a budget?


Gospel Light - SonSurf Beach Blast -
  • Super Starter Kit - $199.99
  • Quick Start Kit - $59.99
  • Recommended Student Materials - Student Magazines - $2.99 per child; Name Tag Holders - 12/$7.99; SonSurf Bible Connection Cards - 5sets/$5.99; Keychain 5/$9.99; Stickers - 10/$7.99; Bookmarks - 50/$7.99; SonSurf Name Tags - 50/$7.99; Student Music Pack CD - 10/$19.99; Photo Frame - 12/$11.99
My Dollars and Cents Thoughts - If you plan to use all the posters, DVD's and extras, then the Super Starter Kit is a good buy. If however; budget is an issue, get the Quick Start Kit and the music DVD/CD - $29.99. You will be able to plan and present an excellent VBS with those materials. For the children get the Connection cards, keychain and the music CD for a cost of $5.20 per child.

LifeWay - Big Apple Adventure -
  • Super Sampler - $199.99
  • Sampler - $69.99
  • Recommended Student Materials - Student Bible Study Cards - 10/$19.99; Daily Tokens - 10/$4.99; Music for Kids CD - 5/$11.49; Name tags/Lanyards - 20/$7.89; Taxi Key Chain - $1.49; Bookmarks - 50/$1.99; Photo frame - 10/$4.99
My Dollar and Cents Thoughts - Again, if you plan to use all the posters, DVD's and extras, then the Super Sampler is a good buy. If however; budget is an issue, get the Sampler Kit and the Worship Rally Pack for $41.99. You will be able to plan and present an excellent VBS with those materials. For the children get the Tokens, keychain and the music CD for a cost of $4.30 per child.

Concordia - Big Jungle Adventure -
  • Starter Kit - $119.99
  • Recommended Student Materials - Adventure Maps - $2.99 per child; Bible Pals - $3.49 per child; Adventure Shield Clip - 12/$9.99; Big Adventure Buffs - 10/$14.99; Pass-along Music CD - $4.99 per child; Name tags - 10/$2.99
My Dollar and Cents Thoughts - Concordia does not offer a basic starter kit, so unless you decide to just purchase the Director's book and individual Station Leader guides, you will have to buy the one kit they have. For the children I'd buy the Adventure Shield Clip (this is also the craft for day one) and Bible pals for a cost of $4.33 per child. I would not however buy the Bible Pals for preschool age children as they are too small and I think the music CD is too costly for each child - you might consider one per family.

Go Fish Guys - Kickin' It Old School -
  • Starter Kit - $150.00
  • Recommended Student Materials - Lanyard, Backstage Pass and CD - $5.00 per student; Lanyard, Backstage Pass, CD and T-Shirt - $15.00 per student
My Dollar and Cents Thoughts - Go Fish does not offer a basic starter kit. I would like to see them think about ways to reduce the cost of their materials - perhaps by using a basic paper instead of the heavy, glossy paper. All the materials for teachers and students are reproducible, so you will have the additional cost of printing the items you copy. As for the student materials, I'd get the Lanyard, pass and CD for each student - unless the budget just won't allow it in which case I'd try to get a music CD for each family - if you purchase one for $15.00 you can get additional copies for $5.00 each.

Regular Baptist Press - Rev It Up!
  • Starter Kit - $79.99
  • Recommended Student Materials - Student Activity Sheets - $2.99 per child; Name tags - 48/$5.99; Rev It Up pouch - 10/$24.99; Stickers - 5/$2.99
My Dollar and Cents Thoughts - Regular Baptist Press only has one kit, but it is extremely affordable! As for the student materials, I personally do not order student pages from any publisher because I've found they typically do not make it home. I'd rather buy a daily reminder children can clip to a backpack so when they see it beyond the week of VBS they can be reminded of what they learned. If your church utilizes student pages, RBP's student materials are very affordable, but I'd like to see a daily reminder and a student copy of the music as well as they are the things I'd buy.

When it comes to student materials I personally would love to see publishers make their student pages reproducible - this might make it more affordable for churches to utilize a page for children to work through and think about the application in class, while still allowing churches to afford to purchase the daily take home reminders! 


Of course most publishers offer craft kits and if you use them it will increase your per student cost; as will purchasing craft supplies to make crafts in the craft books. When it comes to deciding which VBS resource is the best "fit" for your church, the Dollars and Cents can make a difference; but be assured, if your church is experiencing a very tight budget situation, you can plan and present an effective Vacation Bible School for the children in your church and community with just the basic starter kits. Please do not let the Dollars and Cents of VBS discourage you from having a VBS ministry in your church. Next Saturday I'll break down the Dollars and Cents for the VBS resources that are in my Top Five for 2011 and then the following week we will look at additional ways to use VBS!

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