Should I Charge Students to Attend VBS?

There's no doubt VBS is a pricey endeavor. But what are typical church responses to this (sometimes) internal battle of charging students to attend VBS.

To be up front, it depends. Let's explore some common responses.

1) "Yes! It's a nominal cost to cover student supplies."

For any church size, covering student supply costs can add up. And depending on the Children's Ministry budget, too many students can make a serious dent.

If you are charging, keeping fee's minimal is always a good rule of thumb. Check out our blog 5 Steps to Budget for VBS for more insight on students costs.

Between food, supplies, decor and just keeping the lights on, the cost per student for 5 days (average VBS timeline) can be a high bill.

At the end of the day, don't feel guilty if you have to charge a small fee. People understand running an event isn't free.

2) "No. We Don't charge. It's an outreach and costs will deter new families."

This is the reason you hear most often as to why a church does not charge for VBS.

It is proven that VBS is a great outreach for new families and not charging really does minimize barriers to attending.

If your church is able to afford this or offset the cost, go for it! For others on a tight budget and not wanting to charge, check out our blog 5 Super Fun Fundraising Ideas to potentially cover student fees elsewhere.

3) "We do both! Regular students Pay. New Students are Free.

Now this is a creative idea we've heard from a handful of churches. It's a little tricky but works if you can get it right.

Regular attending students register at a minimal cost, but new students and families are free. In fact, regular attendees are encouraged to bring new friends at no cost!

This gets the best of both pricing models, while not inhibiting new attendees.