No more VBS T-shirt Line!

Our Way of Being Intentional

Have you ever had a lightbulb moment? One of those moments where you thought, “This is awesome!”

8 months ago I was sitting in a VBS planning meeting. Our goal for this meeting was to brainstorm ways to make VBS more intentional.

We started talking about the Monday experience: What families feel and see when they walk onto our campus for the fist day of VBS. Was there anything about that day we could change? What was the worst part of Monday morning VBS?


Oh, that dreaded T-shirt line. I have done VBS for over 15 years and I still can’t seem to find a system that doesn’t create mile long lines and irritated parents.

As we began to think outside the “normal” and “usual” we started playing around with the questions, “How do we shorten the t-shirt line on Monday? How can we be intentional? What can we do to make sure the kids feel loved? This year’s theme was a boot camp theme, called Basic Training. (We adapted a Sunday morning curriculum from High Voltage and turned it into our VBS) We began brainstorming on fun terms to fit our theme. What military components fit our theme?

Then it struck us – LIGHTBULB MOMENT – Why don’t we deliver all of the VBS t-shirts the Sunday before VBS starts? If we can deliver turkey meals to families in need at Thanksgiving, why can’t we deliver VBS t-shirts? We decided to call them MREs – Merchandise Ready To Experience.

Sound crazy? Yep! And perfect for us!

So the Sunday before VBS, our church family delivered 346 packages across Southern California! (Some people drove over 30 miles to deliver their package! That is far in Southern California traffic.) Our pastor’s sermon was on being intentional and he gave our family a practical way to live that out: deliver a MRE! Our congregation picked up their deliveries as part of the service, during the offering.

Here is what was delivered to each family registered for VBS:

MRE Delivery

Top Secret package – This was addressed to the parents/guardians of the kids attending. It contained a VBS music CD, a campus map and instructions for the first day of VBS, a flyer for our upcoming Fall Wednesday kids program, and a flyer for our upcoming It’s Just A Phase parenting conference.

One MRE for each child in the family registered for VBS – This envelope was stamped MRE – Merchandise Ready to Experience. It also had each child’s name on the package. Inside of the package was the t-shirt in the size they requested during pre-registration and a note from me instructing them to wear their uniform when they report to Basic Training VBS.

Each volunteer delivering a package also picked up a FAQ sheet that gave them instructions on what to do and say when they delivered the packages.

It was a hit! It took about 40 hours to organize and make sure that all 560 kids had the correct color of t-shirt and were grouped with the right families. But it was well worth the hours.

The T-shirt line on Monday morning was nonexistent. The excitement level of the kids ready for Basic Training was off the charts! The social media buzz was awesome. Our church family LOVED delivering the packages. Kids were so excited to receive a MRE. Here is a testimony of a little boy who received his package:

I love being intentional in ministry. This one was a game changer for us. I can’t wait to deliver t-shirts next year!!

If you have any questions or want more specifics, let me know!

Here is what our week looked like:


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3 thoughts on “No more VBS T-shirt Line!

  1. This is really awesome Amber! I have some questions.

    Did you charge for that package? or for your VBS? or was all of this free to every attendee?

    Did you give out a different color t-shirt for each of your groups? How did you organize that during the week of VBS?

  2. I really wanted to pin this idea to VBS board but I keep getting an error message about an invalid urn. But I really love this idea!