Parting with decorations and used resources can be a VBS director's worst nightmare. After all, you never know what you might use in the future. I visited a church once that has converted an attic into a huge VBS storage area you could get lost in for weeks. It was incredible!
I have a friend in Texas who has turned a barn into community-wide VBS storage. Out with the livestock and in with the inflatable horses from Saddle Ridge Ranch. And then there are friends in Oklahoma who transformed a large commercial garage into storage for an entire association of churches. We should declare it the national museum of past Bible school themes.
Most of use do not have this spacious luxury. We cram palm trees and submarines into every corner and nook we can find. Pity the unsuspecting guest who mistakenly opens a closet in search of a restroom. They just might find themselves at the bottom of 20 years of stage props.
Since most VBS leaders I know, me included, tend to have a bit of hoarder mentality in them somewhere, we often need the help of others to determine what to keep, what to share, and what to throw out, so here a few suggestions.
1. Find a church or organization that can put the resources to good use. Based on the size of your VBS you might be able to supply multiple churches with everything they need to conduct VBS. When donating resources, I have learned from experience, it is best to establish a specific date and time for the resources to be picked up.
2. Designate a single box or tub per theme. Sort through decorations and keep only those that are in the best condition and will fit in the box. If it doesn't fit in the box gift it to someone else. It will take discipline but you can do it!
3. Sort through large decorations and stage props and keep only the pieces you are certain can be repurposed the following year. This is one of the reasons LifeWay announces the theme the first Monday of June. It gives churches an opportunity to decide which current decorations might be possibly be used with the next theme.
4. Create files for the Recreation and Snack Rotation Cards. VBS games and snacks never go out of style and are a great resource when planning other activities. You may not wish to call your next party Submerged but the games and snacks would be perfect for a luau or pool party.
5. Create a learning activities file by clipping or scanning the Bible study activities kids enjoyed most from Leader Guides. Your activities files will become a great idea generator for future Bible studies and events.
6. Use VBS songs throughout the year. I often meet young adults who can still sing VBS songs from their childhood. The songs have great meaning that live beyond the five days of VBS.
7. Incorporate unused materials such as additional mission rotation and Bible study activities into other ministry events such as Wednesday nights. Watch for a future post about one Texas church that has developed a Wednesday night program called VBS Continues.
8. Use resources for Backyard Kids Club or mission trips. Your workers have already been trained and have experience using the resources. Utilize this experience by taking VBS on the road and using the additional resources for Backyard Kids Clubs and mission trips.
9. Keep The Music Book and a copy of the Worship Rally DVD and CD for each theme. You won't be sorry and they will take up very little space. These are the resources from previous themes LifeWay's VBS team receive the most requests for - and sadly we don't keep them in stock.
10. Set aside adequate time for sorting resources. Instead of hurriedly throwing resources in a closet to get them out of the way for now, with the idea that you will take time to sort later, take the time now. Create a list of what to keep and criteria for the condition it must be in. Not only will you make better decisions, your storage area will look much more inviting. We have all opened a storage box and discovered a discolored wad of crepe paper streamers because someone couldn't make the decision to throw it away.
Make 2016 the year you set limitations on your VBS hoarder tendencies.