If you are in Children’s Ministry, chances are that you have spent a portion of your summer working on the great adventure known as VBS.  Whether you held a 3-day or 5-day, morning or evening, traditional or family, superheroes or science, mountains or outer space… chances are also likely that the weeks leading up to the big event were filled with planning, purchasing, decorating and detailing.  Your office probably looked like the Amazon toy department found a new home and a plethora of balloons, glow sticks, pool noodles, and silly string are spilling out of every corner.

And, if you are anything like me, the hour after VBS ended, your mind sighed a big sigh and then said, “Okay, what’s next?”

Is there life after VBS?  Why yes, there is!  Some of you have already started searching for the Christmas pageant or planning your fall outreach, but can I encourage you to just take a short but deep breath and lean into these things?

1. The Kids – Close your eyes for a minute and think about all those kids you had the chance to show God’s love to.  More than likely, you have a follow-up of some sort planned for after VBS but for a second, just see their faces in your mind.  Take a few moments to pray for each one as you recall the things that touched their hearts and lit up their eyes.

You put a lot of prep into getting ready for those children; don’t let the moment pass without slowly seeing those hearts God touched.  Write down the memories that most stand out and when the days get rough in the future (and they will because that’s life), pull out those “glory sightings” and remember why you do what you do.

2. The Volunteers – I had an experience this year that made me so incredibly grateful for my volunteers and aware of just how much stability and grace they provide when they serve at VBS.  On our second night, right as we got started with the program, the power went out.  I mean, completely out…on the night we were going to have our Heroes Carnival….and our BIG HERO 6 Movie Night!  I was standing up in front of 30+ families when it happened and my mind was rapidly processing all my options when I looked in the back and saw my volunteers spring into action; moving chairs, setting up things for the next activity, and moving forward with nary a pause.  Armed with their enthusiasm, I forged ahead and within after an hour or so, the power returned, the carnival happened, and the movie was enjoyed by all. My team of volunteers made that happen and I was so grateful for their heart and perseverance.

Take a moment and think back on your team and allow that gratitude to fill your heart; store it back for the understaffed Sunday mornings and the lonely Wednesday nights that may come later in the year.

3. Yourself – I know, it’s not very “Christian” of me to say think about yourself but…do it.  Take stock of where you are physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Are you completely zapped of energy?  Make sure you take some time to rest up.  Take a day off with your family or find a way to sleep in or go for a run or whatever gives you strength.  Are you emotionally worn out?  Find some time with friends who lift you up, family who loves you most, and with God who helps you soar on wings like eagles.  Make the space to get that emotional salve.

And if you are empty spiritually, poured out in service, and needing God’s touch, go find it.  Seek it like the treasure it is. Don’t be so busy with the work of the Lord that you aren’t spending time with the Lord of the work. I promise,the office mess will be there waiting…

This was my first year heading up a Family VBS. We learned a lot, worked a lot, and grew a lot.  It was a wonderful, beautiful, messy experience but in the end the families walked away closer to each other and to God and that was worth every second.  And my office is finally looking like an office again (except I kept the rubber chickens because…rubber chickens!).  I’d love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite ways to reflect on and recover from VBS?

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Christina is wife of Pastor Luke and mom to Hannah, Naomi, and Caleb. She has been serving in ministry since 2010, first as a director of children's ministry and now as a family minister near Lexington, KY. She is passionate about helping churches transition into family ministry and equipping parents for discipleship in the home. She is currently completing studies at Wesley Seminary at IWU for a Master's degree in ministry with a focus on children, youth and family, with the desire to help churches grow their family ministries.