VBS – Not Just for Kids!

VanCleave - new (1) LifeWay’s VBS provides resources for ALL ages. This year our church had a great experience tapping into this great family resource.

Adult VBS – For the five “night” services (two Sunday nights and three Wednesday nights) prior to kids VBS, we had adult VBS! This helped give all of our leaders a great biblical foundation as they prepared to teach.

Youth VBS – Our youth leaders used the Student VBS during a Friday night lock-in prior to the start of our kids VBS. The youth had a blast while they discovered the biblical truths that were part of this year’s study. Our youth help with VBS, so this also was a time to prepare them for their roles during VBS.

Kids and Preschool VBS – Our VBS runs Sunday through Thursday nights with a family celebration on Friday night. The adult and youth helped and, with so many involved, our attendance was great. We packed the house on Family Night.

Through the years we have used Student VBS for retreats, one-day-a-week Bible studies, or during traditional VBS times. We had used adult VBS as a Bible study during VBS for parents who bring their kids to VBS or for senior adults.

The resource offers so many possibilities. What are some ways you have used VBS for different age groups? We’d love to hear from you!!

Shining in Your Sweet Spot

VanCleave - new (1)A couple of years ago we had one of “those” VBS weeks. Unexpected illnesses and surgeries and countless other things derailed our VBS plans. Thankfully people rallied and jumped in to do things outside of their norm. We “accidentally” discovered something great. We found a lot of people’s VBS sweet spot. One lady who “always” teaches jumped in to run the kitchen (we do a full meal each night of VBS). She doesn’t want to do this particular job all the time, but for one week she loves it!

Leaders who teach preteens throughout the year have a blast with kindergartners during VBS. Many couples have found that they enjoy being a team during VBS. Each year since that “accidental” year, we have discovered one or more people who have found their VBS sweet spot in an unexpected role.

The bonus of all this is that we are almost fully staffed for next year because people want to keep “their” jobs. And, a couple of people who did not see themselves as “good with kids,” now have a regular role in our kids ministry.

While this year is fresh in your mind, make of note of people who seemed to really enjoy what they did and enlist them now! Then, as you look to fill the rest of your slots for next year, give people a chance to try something different. The results can be … well, SWEET!

Six Tips for First Time Teachers

VanCleave - new (1)So, you are teaching VBS for the first time? Or the first time in a long time? You are in great company! All of us were first timers at some time! Here are a few tips that might help you:

  1. Don’t Panic! You can do this! Page 1 of your leader guide has a quick outline of the steps you need to take from preparing yourself to teach through keeping the connection with kids alive long after VBS.
  2. Pray! It’s hard to realize just how important this step is. Pray before you start, while you are preparing, while you are teaching, and for the families after VBS is over. And don’t forget to ask people to pray for you.
  3. Choose what works for you. You don’t have to do everything that’s in the book. Options are provided on purpose. No two situations are alike, so choose the activities that you feel will work for you as a teacher, with the age group you will have, and in the setting where you will teach.
  4. Ask questions. I promise you will NOT “look dumb.” Questions are evidence of someone who is thinking! So, ask those questions of your director, your fellow teachers, or whoever might be able to help you get the information you need.
  5. Don’t stress. There is no such thing as a perfect classroom experience. You will always think of things you want to “do better next time.” Enjoy today’s experience, love on the kids, and trust God. He is the One who ordains our steps and causes things to work together for His good.
  6. Remember, you are not alone. The Holy Spirit will come alongside you and help you. You may find at the end of that day that you learned more than the kids. And that is pretty awesome!

VBS C.R.A.F.T.S – More Than What You Think

VanCleave - new (1)Is crafts rotation one of your favorite parts about VBS? It is for lots of people. I’m one of those people and I get excited about picking which crafts I’d like to do at my VBS. However, it’s easy to get too focused on the end product and forget what we are really creating in the VBS Craft Lab – great experiences for kids.

Here’s a little reminder for those of us on the crafts team.

 

C – Conversation: As kids work on the their crafts, leaders have a great opportunity to get to know kids, learn about their families, and reinforce truths learned in Bible study. Keep those “Connecting the Evidence” bullet points from the first page of each day’s craft options handy!

R – Relationships: The conversations you have with kids will help build those important relationships. Listening to kids tells them they are important to you and that you care about them.

A – Art: The activities during crafts rotation hit the primary learning style of many kids. For kids who process visually or while using their hands, this may be the moment when the Bible truth really begins to sink in.

F – Feelings: Many kids are rarely made to feel valued or loved. How can they believe that a God they cannot see could love them if people they can see don’t express that love. Even if the end product a child makes looks like truck hit it, you have created something of value when the child leaves with a smile on his face and a heart that has felt love and acceptance.

T – Teachable Moments: Some of the best teaching times happen when you least expect it. Prayerfully approach each day asking God to help you spot those moments when you can help a child learn something important.

S – Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit: This is important to all of the things already mentioned. The Holy Spirit was sent to be our Helper, to help us remember the things we need to, and to remind us of things we have learned. Trust Him to guide you as you talk with kids and love even those kids who are sometimes a challenge to love.

Approach your day with an expectation of fun and let crafts rotation be a great experience for you and all the kids God brings to you this VBS!

 

On the Eighth Day of Christmas …

VanCleave - new (1)On the eighth day of Christmas I’m thinking about traditions. Well, at least what have become traditions when Christmas is different every year.

My husband is a pastor and our traditions have had to be very flexible so we could work around church events. As our kids were growing up, Christmas time also meant an eight to ten hour trip back to Tennessee to visit grandparents. We tried to “choose” our Christmas day rather than letting the calendar demand that it was December 25. Sometimes Christmas and church times were too close to make the Tennessee trip until after Christmas. That was when our son and daughter began their own tradition of staying up all night to watch the 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story.” They tell very different stories about who would finally fall asleep first. But for two very different siblings who were almost five years apart, it is still a memory that bonds them.

One tradition we began was called “The Feast.” My son describes it as a meal where, “we eat things we wouldn’t ordinarily eat at a meal.” Even that makes me laugh. It’s basically “name your very favorite things” and, no matter what it is, we’ll put it in the feast. Combined with laughter, family time, and a Christmas movie, it is something we still do even though they are both grown with homes of their own.

And then we have “The Snowman.” It began as a joke between my husband and me. He used to grumble about “plastic things to set out in the yard during Christmas.” I started picking up every $1 giant plastic thing I could find at yard sales. “The Snowman” was the first. We had quite a collection after about 15 years. When we moved back to Tennessee, it was hard to give up “the collection,” but “The Snowman” was part of the family! Even years when sad things have happened at Christmas, including the year we didn’t even manage to get a tree up, “The Snowman” glowed near our front door.

I came home late a couple of weeks ago and there was Mr. Snowman glowing in the front yard. I started to grin. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Snowman

Unpacking the New VBS 2014 Starter Kits

VanCleave - new (1)

They are here! We are so excited about the new Kids Starter Kit (for Grades 1-6) and the new Preschool Starter Kit (Babies through Kindergarten). We’ve listened to your comments that you want “everything you need to get started” in one box, so here it is.

Starter Boxes

Special packaging created just for the Starter Kits makes the VBS Director’s job super easy. Let’s unpack those kits and take a look.

Preschool Box open

Inside the Preschool Starter Kit, the three age group resources have been carefully packed together and labeled for your “Amazing” Babies to 2s teaching team, your “Fantastic” 3s-PreK teaching team, and your “Incredible” Kindergarten teaching team. As your teams meet, the label also explains what additional resources will be needed based on the number of classes, teachers, and preschoolers you will have. The 3s-Kindergarten Rotation Pack is included for easy distribution to your preschool rotation leaders. A sample set of craft packs and a “mystery” bag of fun items for preschoolers is also included.

Preschool Mystery

Ok, ok … I’ll tell you what’s in the mystery bag. =) A sample picture frame, samples of the sticky foam shapes, one sheet of the new Agency D3 Stickers, a set of the Daily Mission Insignias (for ages over 3), and a fun pair of the Special Agent Rearview Glasses!

Kids box open

Now, let’s take a peak in the Kids Starter Kit. The three Bible study age group resources have also been carefully packed together and labeled for your “Marvelous” Grades 1-2 teaching team, your “Fabulous” Grades 3-4 teaching team, and your “Phenomenal” VBX teaching team. Once again, as the teams meet, the labels will help them know how many additional leader guides, leader packs, and Kids Evidence Kits they might need. Individual rotation leader guides for Missions, Music, and Crafts are included plus Recreation Rotation Leader Cards and Snack Recipe Cards.

kids mystery

A sample set of craft packs and a “mystery” bag of fun items for kids are included. The kids fun items bag includes a sample picture frame, one sheet of the new Agency D3 Stickers, a set of Daily Mission Insignias, the cool glow-in-the dark ABC Wristband, and a fun pair of the Special Agent Rearview Glasses!

You are ready to grab a kit and get started! Have fun!

And don’t forget Jump Start Kits are also available.  Check out this post where we unpack them!

VBS 2015 – Already?

VanCleave - new (1)What were you doing last week? Were you making plans for the holidays? We were working with writers and getting VBS 2015 rolling. Yes, I really mean 2015!! Long days, lots of coffee and chocolate, laughs, and some very serious hard work by God-gifted writers.

For the second year in a row we have returned to the “write onsite in a week” approach. It is an intense week, but having creative folks at your elbow to bounce ideas around is a huge blessing!

What now? Just like other super heroes, the writers have headed back to family, jobs, and teaching kids at their churches. They are back where people have no idea that the past week of their lives will impact hundreds of thousands with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

… but God knows.

And what will VBS 2015 be? Here are some sneak peeks. Wonder if there are any clues.

Is it a Lots o' Coffee theme?

Is it a Lots o’ Coffee theme?

Or is it a Color My World theme?

Or is it a Color My World theme?

Whatever the theme is, rest assured it was covered with prayer, planning, and pondering.

Whatever the theme is, rest assured it was covered with prayer, planning, and pondering.

 

 

Continue the Connection in September

vancleaveIt’s almost the middle of September! Do you know where your kids are? Your VBS kids, that is. Kids are back from summer camps, vacations, and trips to Grandma’s house. They are back in school and into fall sports and, often, in a bit more of a routine. How can you continue the connection this month?

Even in the age of text messages and emails, most kids are still excited to get something in the mail. What if each kid received a “thinking of you” or “praying for you” note from you or someone at your church. It may take longer, but a handwritten note lets each kid know he is special. Before you think, “No way! I’m too busy for that!” think about some of these possibilities:

Purpose of the cards:

  • Just to say, “Hi!”
  • Praying for you.
  • Hope you are having a great school year.
  • Thinking of you.

Sources of help:

  • Check with Bible study classes or small groups. Ask them to do a few before they begin their class.
  • Enlist the help of retired folks or stay-at-home moms who might be willing to be a part of this ministry by writing a few during the week.
  • Enlist the older youth to take this on as a mission project for the month of September.

You provide:

  • Blank note cards and envelopes
  • Lists of addresses
  • Stamps or instructions about where to bring the completed note cards so you can mail them

Consider:

  • Set a deadline for the cards to be mailed.
  • Think of something simple (like a coupon for an ice cream cone) to include with the note.

What are some great “Continue the Connections” that have worked for you? We’ll try to share one a month, so stay tuned!

 

 

May 19, 2013 – National Day of Prayer for VBS

 

Rhonda small Have you ever flipped the switch on a lamp several times and nothing happened? Do you remember the frustration of, “Why isn’t this thing coming on?” during your fruitless flips up and down. What about that sheepish, “oh,” realization when you see the disconnected plug?

This is a pretty good picture of our efforts to spread the gospel without prayer. Prayer is the power source that enlightens and charges our efforts. We are less than a month away from what are typically the two biggest weeks of VBS. Even if your VBS is later in the summer, the time to begin praying is NOW!

The VBS 2013 Administrative Guide has great prayer resources from prayer calendars to prayer walk brochures. And, this Sunday, May 19, 2013, is the National Day of Prayer for VBS.

I started thinking about praying for VBS and it occurred to me that V. B. S. is a great acronym for praying for VBS everywhere.

V – Volunteers! Recently on our Facebook we asked people to share their prayer requests. (Our team prays for you!) One of the most requested prayer concerns was for volunteers to help. Jesus told His disciples to pray for workers (Matthew 9:36-38). It is still an urgent prayer. The harvest is ready!

B – Bible! God’s Word changes lives. God promised that His Spirit would be our Teacher (John 14:25-26). We need His power and guidance as we teach Bible truths to others.

S – Salvations! VBS is still one of the strongest evangelistic efforts made by many churches. Prayer, concentrated Bible teaching, and the forging of relationships set the stage to share the gospel in a powerful way. Pray that hearts are prepared to respond to the gospel of Jesus.

I hope you’ll join me this Sunday, as we pray together for VBS!

 

 

More Than Flowers Are Popping Up During Spring Break

SpringbreakVBS

The daffodils are blooming, the trees are budding, and snow is in the forecast… it must be spring break! What are your spring break plans? Spring cleaning? Yard work? Vacation? Vacation Bible School?

Yes, you read that right! Vacation Bible School! Many school systems have one to two week breaks and parents are scrambling for a fun, safe place for their kids to be. What a great opportunity to reach out to your community. When you meet a need, you open the door to building relationships. Those relationships can provide great opportunities to share the gospel.

Last year I visited a local spring break VBS. You can read about my visit here.

Have you ever held VBS during Spring Break, or Fall Break, or other break times? What about Backyard Kids Club during Spring Break? We’d love to hear from you!!