Five Gospel-Centered Options for your next VBS

photo of my youngest at our last vbs by photographer mariana warne. find her online at  instagram.com/mariana_warne/

photo of my youngest at our last vbs by photographer mariana warne. find her online at instagram.com/mariana_warne/

As summer rolls in, churches everywhere start advertising their Vacation Bible Schools. With a variety of formats, themes, and goals - the one thing I think we can safely say is that we want the children in these programs to hear the gospel in its fullness. We want them to be hearing gospel-saturated truths about who God is and who they are and not just “religious” words pushing them back on their own resources. Fun games, laughter, and developing friendships will usually be there - but the scripted messages that fill the minds of our kids can be different.

I have helped find the VBS curriculum for my church for a few years and have participated in many VBS programs over the years in a variety of roles. I am always surprised when one pops up that I just haven’t heard of before - so I wanted to do a round-up of a bunch of VBS options that you could check out too!

I reached out to readers to ask what THEY use and love at their churches so I would be sure not to miss anything - but if I did, please contact me and I’d love to add more to this list! Hopefully, this can be a helpful starting place for you to find a curriculum that would be a great fit for your church in the future.

Below I’ve included a round-up of five great gospel-centered options with some samples directly from the publisher so you can get a feel for what they think is important and then look into them deeper to see more of the content, the prices, artwork, and options! As a disclaimer, I haven’t used all of these. It’s always best to review the content with your VBS teaching team ahead of time!

Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links. However, as I’ve included direct links to the publishers below for your convenience - those are not affiliate links! You can always read our disclosure policy here.

New Growth Press / Sojourn Kids

The VBS from New Growth Press is very gospel-centered and I highly recommend these! My church selected this one for our 2019 VBS (You can see my archived Instagram Stories with details here) and I often felt like I got just as much out of it as the kids because they are so rich! 

Samples from the PROOF Pirates kit (from the publisher): 

  • Chore charts. Report cards. Standardized tests. Athletic banquets. Kids are inundated with messages about their performance. Because performance—work and reward—is one of the basic structures of our lives, kids often grow up thinking, “I am what I am because of what I do . . . or because of what I’ve failed to do.” How different this message sounds from the biblical message of redemption by grace!

  • PROOF Pirates introduces kids to God’s amazing grace through a five-day, pirate-themed curriculum for use in Bible clubs and Vacation Bible School. It explains the doctrines of grace using the popular PROOF acronym with the book of Ephesians (God’s grace is Planned, Resurrecting, Outrageous, Overcoming, and Forever) so kids know that it is not their performance that makes them right with God.

Availability: You can get them directly from the publisher here. Currently there are only two available, I hope they publish more!

Great Commission Publications

GCP operates as the non-profit publishing house of the PCA and OPC, it is no wonder that GCP provides a great gospel-centered option. Email subscriber Laura has used this option multiple times and said, “The lessons are very faithful to Scripture on a level appropriate for children and catechism and Scripture memorization are emphasized.”

Samples of The Race Is On kit (from the publisher): 

  • Winning a race takes perseverance and motivation. Our vision for this week is for you to serve as an encouragement to your covenant children to continue faithfully running the Race set before them. In addition, we pray that many others will join this life-changing Race for the first time as the Holy Spirit changes their hearts.

  • During the daily skits, children will look in on Terry Turtle and Rocky Rabbit as they run the Race and learn what it takes to follow The One Way. In Bible lessons, they will learn that everyone needs God and the way to God is in the Person of Jesus Christ—the truth Christ taught, the life he gives, the sacrifice he made, and the promise he gave by sending the Holy Spirit.

Availability: You can get them directly from the publisher here. Currently there are three different themes to choose from on their site.

Answers In Genesis

Answers VBS is very popular among both Baptist and Presbyterian churches (judging by my email responses and Instagram feed - ha!). One email subscriber commented that the Bible lessons are especially presented in “vibrant and interesting ways”. 

Samples of the Mystery Island VBS kit (from the publisher): 

  • Is there only one God? . . . Who is God? . . . What is God like? . . . Does God love me? . . . Can I know God? Our kids grapple with questions like these every day. At Mystery Island, prepare to be thrilled from the top of your sun-drenched head to the tip of your sandy toes as we explore an intriguing tropical paradise while tracking down the one true God.

  • Kids will gain a better understanding of our awe-inspiring Creator God and the salvation he offers through Jesus Christ through our age-appropriate curriculum! They’ll discover who God is and his attributes as they look to the only source of truth, God’s Word. Grab your sunscreen and get ready for a taste of paradise as you track down the one true God with Mystery Island!

Availability: You can get them directly from the publisher here. They create a new theme and kit each year and although you can look at older options, it looks like the older versions are always sold out. So just plan to order at the right time of the year to get everything you need. 

VBS Reachout Adventures

VBS Reachout does only VBS! From their site, their “commitment is to create high caliber, spiritually engaging, Christ-centered Vacation Bible School curricula whose profound, grace-filled content and Christian world and life view are presented through fun-filled challenge and adventure.” 

You can read some of the endorsements from pastors like Lingon Duncan and Alistair Begg here.

Samples of the Summer Seaquest kit (from the publisher): 

  • Your young "Sea Explorers"—churched and unchurched—will come away from this high seas VBS adventure knowing deep truths about our ever-present, Sovereign God who pursues us in love, and turns us around in repentance and obedience.

  • PROOF Pirates introduces kids to God’s amazing grace through a five-day, pirate-themed curriculum for use in Bible clubs and Vacation Bible School. It explains the doctrines of grace using the popular PROOF acronym with the book of Ephesians (God’s grace is Planned, Resurrecting, Outrageous, Overcoming, and Forever) so kids know that it is not their performance that makes them right with God.

Availability: You can get them directly from the publisher here. They have four options and rotate through them every four years so you can only buy the one that is currently scheduled.

One Story Ministries

OSM is a non-profit publishing ministry of Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church (PCA) located in Ridgeland, Mississippi. This reformed option doesn’t have any “fluff” but we’ve used it in the past and it’s also very affordable.

Samples of The Scottish Sleuths and the Case of the Hidden Hero (The Book of Esther) kit (from the publisher): 

  • Each year, our Scottish Super Sleuths, Angus McTavish and Professor Dabney Thornwell, are called in to solve a Biblical “case” with the help of our VBS children. The detective characters symbolically portray the message that we want the students to learn to be competent investigators of Biblical truth. 

  • This year, our case involves an in-depth study of the entire Book of Esther. This Old Testament book presents an amazing story of God’s providential protection of His people. The overall goal of this study is to lead your children into a knowledge and a love for God, the “Hidden Hero” of the story of Esther. 

Availability: You can get them directly from the publisher here. They have seven options available at all times! 

Making your own

I have to admit, I was very surprised by the number of responses who let me know their church creates their own VBS! I didn’t include this in the five options - but it is clearly happening a lot!

Either a pastor or children’s ministry director writes the content and creates the program. If you’ve been involved with VBS before, most of them have a very similar structure so you don’t need to re-invent that part. If you have someone willing to spend a substantial amount of time on this, it makes sense to do it, only create what you actually need, and tailor it to your needs. 


I hope you found this round-up successful! I love what email subscriber Devina said, “VBS is a tiring, but very rewarding week! We look forward to it every year!” Let’s pray together that all our efforts for Vacation Bible School from the research to the early morning set up points kids to Jesus!

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