For some of us in ministry, Vacation Bible School (VBS) is as woven into the fabric of our churches as the Sunday offering or corporate worship. And for those of us whose churches don’t hold an annual VBS, we occasionally field the question why not? After all, isn’t VBS an important tool for discipling the kids within our church and inviting families from our community in?

Today on The Pod, we explore the why and how of a VBS strategy. We’re joined by Dan Scott, who kicks things off by talking about some overarching principles for partnering with parents in our communities. Then, guest hosts Sarah Bragg and Dan interview Amy Fenton, a ministry veteran with 20+ years behind her. They discuss key questions leaders should ask before launching an event like VBS, and practical steps they can take to choose VBS curriculum, recruit volunteers, and manage their budget wisely.

Welcome to Episode 65 of the Think Orange Podcast!

Where To Listen:  iTunes  |  Google Play  |  Stitcher  |  SoundCloud

Topic Timeline

Ashley and Dave’s explanation of what VBS is (1:11)

Dan Scott talks about helping parents navigate their way through their parenting journey (10:57)

Reaching parents in your community by celebrating developmental milestones (12:02)

Reaching parents in your community by providing their kids with great small group experiences (13:40)

Reaching parents in your community by empowering the volunteers who serve them (16:10)

Questions to ask before planning an event like VBS (19:18)
• Why are we doing this event in the first place?
• What is its purpose?
• Who do we want to show up?

Sarah Bragg and Dan Scott interview Amy Fenton (28:13)

How children’s ministry has changed over the past 20 years (30:40)

How to use your VBS budget wisely by focusing on its relational aspects (32:56)

Practical steps a church can take to create an effective VBS experience (37:05)

How to recruit (and celebrate!) the volunteer teams that will put on a great VBS that accomplishes your church’s mission (45:02)

Tips for getting church-wide staff involved in VBS (54:03)

Dave and Ashley’s final thoughts (55:44)

People, Places & Helpful Resources

Try Orange’s age-group curriculums for free at

Learn more at

Pre-order Power Up: Orange’s VBS Kit for 2019

Join the Orange VBS Facebook Group

Featured Guests

Dan Scott


Dan Scott has been crafting preteen-specific ministries for more than a decade. He taught sixth grade English for a number of years and is a sought-after speaker for elementary, preteen, and teen camps. Currently, Dan serves as the curriculum director for 252Kids and 252Preteen weekend strategies at Orange. Now, Dan’s year of experience and research are available in his book Caught In Between: Engage Your Preteens Before They Check Out.


Amy Fenton is executive director of Orange VBS and Orange’s Live to Serve Conference. Amy served as a kids’ pastor for more than 18 years and has led staff and more than 400 volunteers at two churches. She has a passion for helping and empowering those who are leading children’s ministries around the country and a love for the volunteers who serve in churches.

Amy Fenton

Quotes from This Episode

Ideas to Influence the Next Generation

Our friend Carey Nieuwhof often tells the story of the average parent in your community. You know, the one just like you who hustles to make it to their kid’s game, meet the expectations of fellow PTA members, and maybe squeeze a few minutes of quality time out of the weekend. He reminds us that while the majority of parents care a great deal about their kids physical, emotional, and even spiritual well being, he’s never met a parent who lies awake at night wondering what the church down the street will preach about on Sunday.

The reality is, your church’s teaching plan and event strategy aren’t on most families’ radars. What actually keeps parents up at night are questions like: Is my kid on track? Does my kid have quality friends—or any friends at all? and Do I have what it takes to prepare my kid for future challenges and opportunities?

As a church, we have answers to these questions and more. The trick is communicating to families that we see them and want to help. Here are a few ways we can use things like VBS and other events to do that:

Lean into milestone moments. In the life of every child, there are certain events almost every parent sees as pivotal—the first day of kindergarten, “the talk”, a driver’s license. Some of these moments are exciting and some of them are accompanied with fear or doubt; many of them involve both. As a church, you have the opportunity to ask this important question: What are the developmental milestones that knock parents back on their heels and how can we help equip them for these moments?

Make connections. An important component of the Orange strategy is the belief that life change happens within the context of small group relationships. So while your VBS or other events might rely on a large group format, don’t miss the opportunity to connect kids and their parents with a small group of peers and a trusted adult. Doing so will extend your impact beyond an isolated week in the summer to relationships that grow week after week throughout the year.

Offer next steps. In the book 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones encourage leaders to “Think Steps, Not Programs.” This principle is about looking beyond isolated events or programs and asking how what you do today will lead people where you want them to go in the future.

Conversation Starters For Your Church

Is there an event or program those in your church would describe as a tradition? If so, step back and ask the following questions:
• Why are we doing this event in the first place?
• What is its purpose?
• Who do we want to show up?


Based on your answers to the above question, how would you evaluate that event/program’s effectiveness?


What’s a step you can take to improve the event/program in light of your answers to these key questions? (Keep in mind, sometimes the answer might be letting go of or decreasing the frequency of the event.)


Bonus: For a great team read, check out the idea of “Think Steps, Not Programs”, found in chapter 11 of the book 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones.


Your Hosts

Dave Adamson, The Think Orange Podcast Host


When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at

Ashley Bohinc, The Think Orange Podcast Host


Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

Join Us Next Week

Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.

We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.