NASHVILLE, Tenn.—As COVID numbers improve in many locations around the country, much of the hesitation that surrounded Vacation Bible School (VBS) a year ago has been replaced with anticipation, as churches look forward to one of their calendar’s most significant evangelistic events.

Nevertheless, the question, “How will we host VBS?” remains a valid consideration as leaders evaluate churchgoers’ comfort level in gathering during a pandemic. To help churches find a 2021 VBS format that’s right for their congregation and community, Lifeway Christian Resources has created a new set of resources structured around four VBS formats:

  • Traditional: the “VBS as usual” approach
  • Neighborhood: smaller gatherings held in members’ driveways, porches, yards and cul-de-sacs
  • Alternate timetables or formats: Wednesday/Sunday nights, weekends or one-day VBS
  • Virtual at home: online worship with in-home Bible study, recreation and crafts

“Churches will differ in how they approach VBS this year, but they are overwhelmingly saying ‘yes’ to VBS because the Gospel is worth sharing,” said Melita Thomas, VBS and kids ministry specialist. “Last year we identified four ways that VBS could safely happen. This year we’re doubling down on that and providing specific resources for each of those strategies. There’s no reason why a church can’t pull off VBS this year in whatever format they choose.”

Church leaders can visit to help determine the best VBS model for their congregation. There they can find an overview of each approach, discover available resources and download a free “4 VBS Strategies” e-book.

For churches who plan to encourage kids to participate in a VBS experience from home or a church/home hybrid model, leaders can also download the free “Virtual VBS Directors Guide.” This new resource includes:

  • guidance on scheduling VBS events and organizing volunteer teams
  • practical tips for recording quality video
  • suggestions for virtual crafts, recreation and Bible study activities
  • guidance for copyright compliance when using VBS music/media
  • ideas on creating VBS at Home packs for families to enjoy together

An 18-minute overview video of this year’s virtual VBS resources can also be found on Lifeway VBS’ Facebook page.

Lifeway is offering two VBS themes this year: “Destination Dig,” an archaeological theme designed to help kids “unearth the truth about Jesus,” and “Concrete and Cranes,” which was introduced in 2020 to encourage children to “build on the love of Jesus.”

Regardless of how churches host VBS during a pandemic, their approach is likely to be well received. According to a Lifeway Research study, almost 9 in 10 Protestant churchgoers (86 percent) say they are proud of how their church has responded during the coronavirus pandemic, with 58 percent strongly agreeing.

“The reason Lifeway exists is to help churches be successful,” Thomas said. “By giving churches several options for how to host VBS and outfitting them with the best resources to pull it off in their particular context, we want to make things super easy for them.”

More information on VBS options for 2021 can be found at