Very large congregations can end up having hundreds of kids from their congregation and the community coming to VBS. A traditional VBS works well for them though it may end up a virtual Bible carnival. Unfortunately, that doesn't work for everybody, especially when budgets are low and communities are different.
Where it may have been to have a special week for the younger set in the congregation for years, perhaps it is time for your congregation to think outside the box. When you're sitting with your planning committee, ask this... what are the goals of our VBS? Is it just for the K-6 kids? Is it to reach out to the community? Is it a refresher for everyone?
If one goal is to reach out to the community, one of the pre- activities should be having a community walk to hand out brochures, etc. Perhaps take some bottled water with customized labels to hand out as invitations. If one of your goals is to broaden VBS to be a refreshing and enjoyable time for more than just the kids, then it's time to change it up. VBS can be a refreshing time in the Word for everybody. VBS for EVERYONE might be done from 6-8 pm Monday through Thursday or may become a weekend event. An evening schedule might look something like:
5:30 pm - Picnic Supper (together)
6:00 pm - Introduction Prayer and Songs (together)
6:15 pm - Theme Activity (separate)
6:45 pm - Adult Bible Study - Kids Bible Talk and Crafts (separate)
7:30 pm - Closing worship/Devotion and Songs (together)
It is possible for adults and kids to study the same theme and it is possible for adults to relax and have some fun. For example, when talking about God the Father, adults can begin with a "Who is God? Who am I?" activity that will relax them while kids play the fruit basket upset game with a twist, "Stand up if God likes this..." and "Sit down if you like..." For every question where every child is standing up it's fruit basket upset and everybody runs around giggling and changes places.
For a more detailed plan of how a VBS like this might work, please contact me.