I say "used to" because I am not a believer in doing things just because you always have. Sacred Cows are meant to be turned into hamburger, not to dictate the way we approach ministry.
I am currently serving as an Interim Children's Pastor in a local congregation. I was asked to fill a position (which is different than lead) and VBS was a part of what I was asked to do. We decided to offer a one day VBS. Here was the rationale behind the decision.
The two main objectives of VBS are 1) outreach and 2) evangelism. Couldn't we accomplish these two objectives in a short amount of time? We decided to go for it. Here are some of the positives that we came away having experienced.....
1. Recruiting was easier. We weren't asking staff to work all day long then to be at the church for a couple of hours for several nights in a row.
2. Recruiting was easier. Yeh, I know I used that above too :) ....It was easier to recruit people as "crew leaders" than as station leaders, etc. We asked the majority of those who were a part to work on intentionally developing relationships with the kids who attended. They were able to spend time doing just that. Nothing to prepare!
3. Staff knew what the desired outcomes were. We talked openly about the two main objectives. Their purpose was to pour into and intentionally develop the kids who were a part of their groups. Volunteers thrive when expectations are clear. They were then able to execute and ensure that we did meet the main objectives.
4. We had a great turnout for Sunday morning. Because the ministry was so fresh in the minds of people, we were able to encourage them to come back the next morning. Many of them did. Many brought mom and dad along and we all enjoyed a worship service designed to support all we'd offered the day before. (not a fan of traditional vbs programs either)
As with each "event" we offer in ministry, it's important to know the "why" so that you can really determine whether you've met your desired objective. With this event, we were able to clearly define our why as well as what would be considered a win.
Overall, the one day approach was a good one. We had great participation in the closing program on Sunday as well. The one day VBS ministry was a success. Both clearly defined objectives met. Volunteers were not overly tired and were able to bring their "A" game to the table. Real commitments made to Jesus and lives changed forever as a result.
How about you? Do you do a traditional VBS? Do you offer something different?