What to Save for Crafts in 2015

carol_editedIt’s that time of year again, you’ve finished VBS 2014 and may be wondering why think about VBS 2015. Because it’s never too early to start saving supplies and get a head start. With that in mind I am going to give you a top ten list of items to start saving:

 

 

 

  1. Burlap
  2. Dowel rods
  3. Old crayons (ones that the paper can be peeled from)
  4. Smooth river rocks
  5. Small candy tins with lids
  6. 5×7 frame mats
  7. Pencil cap erasers
  8. Ribbon, twine, or raffia
  9. Dried flowers or leaves
  10. Wooden beads

VBS 2014 Director’s Evaluation

I_Heart_VBSYou’ve finished your week of VBS, the decorations are down and stored, the rooms have been cleaned… it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief, right? Well, not exactly. There’s one more tiny little thing we would like to ask you to do. I promise it won’t take that long and the information you share is invaluable to our team at LifeWay.

We would like you to fill out the Director’s Evaluation found in the Administrative Guide and mail it in. Or if you would rather you can click here and submit it electronically.

You may be wondering what we do with the information we receive and why it is important that we hear from you. Here are just a few of the reasons we think it is important to hear from you:

1. We don’t want to change what’s working. If we don’t hear from you that you like something, we may assume incorrectly that it is not of value.

2. We do want to change what’s not working. Again we won’t know it’s not working if we don’t hear from you.

3. We want to make VBS easy for you. Some of our best suggestions have come from you, our customers.

4. We want to serve you in your mission of reaching the kids in your church and community for Christ.

Every year, I personally read each and every evaluation that is submitted. I forward all the data gathered on to the VBS team and management. If there is a suggestion that we are able to implement, we try to get it in for the following year depending on where we are in our production schedule. We truly value hearing from you, so please take a moment to share your VBS experience with us.

Agency D3 Missions Update

BlogDDDWe hope your kids enjoyed learning about Liam and his family and Mary and Abraham during their time in the Map Room at VBS. You can learn more about what Liam has been up to by clicking here.  And if you want to hear more about the work at Connexxion click here for an update.

During the week of VBS we challenged kids to go out and complete their own “Special Assignment” as part of their Missions experience. We would love to hear about any reports you received from your special agents (kids) during the week. Share your updates with us in the comments below.

Now Pinning

carol_editedI just love Pinterest it’s the best for saving those ideas I come across and know I will want to use one day. And what better way to start saving those ideas you find now for Journey Off the Map™? Come on, you know you won’t remember where you saw that great tutorial for building a treehouse or that awesome snack idea when 2015 rolls around.

So you’re in luck, we’ve got a board started for you already. We’ve been searching across the web for almost a year now, and we are ready to share all, well some of our best finds with you on our Journey Off the Map board.Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 2.38.52 PM

Worried about decorating? No need we’ve got some ideas already pinned.

Worried about finding cool crafts? Got you covered.

Afraid you won’t know what to feed the ravenous kids coming your way? Again we’re on it.

Check out the board and start dreaming for 2015!
Follow LifeWayKids’s board Journey Off the Map VBS 2015 on Pinterest.

Mission Project for 2014

carol_editedAs many of you are gearing up for VBS 2014, you maybe wondering how you make missions truly relatable to kids. Each year we offer ideas for a missions project in our VBS curriculum, this year we have partnered with the North American Mission Board and their Send North America initiative. While this project may seem a little hard for children to grasp, we believe that churches can help kids become connected and involved in many ways. Here are a few

  • Teach kids the gospel. Kids need to understand the urgent need for not only themselves, but others to be truly transformed by God’s love.
  • Check out this article from the Hartford CT. Baptist Press to put church planting in a first person perspective.
  • Introduce Kids to Missions. Bill Emeott shares three ways to introduce the concept of missions with your kids.
  • Use the model Jesus provided to create missions interest with kids.
  • Encourage kids to be actively involved. Kids learn more by doing than just seeing or hearing.

Remember kids will be as excited as you are. Isn’t the Great Commission worthy getting excited about?

6 Ways to Continue the Connection

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 9.51.12 AMMany times VBS is the catalyst that brings people into church when they otherwise would not step in the door. However, many times when the week is over things go back to business as usual. When this happens we miss out on a great opportunity to reach out and bring people into the fold and help them build a relationship with their Savior. Consider some to these ideas to help build on the foundation set during VBS.

  1. Offer a “next step” for VBS guest and their families. Utilize the parenting workshop included in the Adult VBS curriculum or host other needs based classes for parents.
  2. Follow up with visitors personally. Use the steps in the Administrative Guide for Directors for making quick at home visits, phone calls, or mail contacts. Or use the Transition From VBS to Sunday School outline on the Administrative Guide CD-ROM.
  3. Send a VBS 2014 Takin’ It Home CD or VBS 2014 Family Headquarters Guide home with each family. Either of these products will encourage families to dive deeper into the biblical content studied during VBS.
  4. Make the connection with the VBS 2014 Family App. Kids and parents can continue to discover, decide, and defend the hope that is in them.
  5. Create a follow-up strategy when you first begin planning VBS. Share the strategy with your entire congregation and encourage them to participate in the process. Continue until a contact has been made with every home and every parent has been met.
  6. Report and celebrate efforts with the congregation

6 Things to Know About Teens Working in VBS

carol_editedTeens are ready to take on some responsibilities and leadership roles within the church. They can be great role models for younger children and preschoolers. However, before enlisting teens to serve in VBS, you might want to check out these tips to ensure a successful experience.

  1. Partner up. Always have an adult leader in the room with the teen helper at all times. This is for the safety and protection of your church, kids, leaders, and the teens themselves. Teens should not be given the sole responsibility for leading a class. Partnering them with a mature adult also provides an opportunity for adults to serve as role models and mentors for the teens.
  2. Communicate clear expectations. Let teens know that this is not the time to be on their cell phones or socializing with other teen helpers in the room. Clearly communicate what their responsibilities will be and the manner in which you expect them to carry out those responsibilities.
  3. Provide training. Either require the teens to come to your church wide VBS training, or hold a training session especially for them before VBS. Go over the Bible content, schedule, safety procedures, and other information pertinent to your church. Consider using the Student VBS material to familiarize students with the week’s Bible content. This can be done on Wednesday or Sunday nights leading up to VBS or host a Student VBS the week before children’s VBS.
  4. Find their passion. Ask teens what they are passionate about and allow them to serve in an area where they can use their passion to help kids learn about Jesus. For example, if a teen is passionate about soccer, allow her to serve in recreation.
  5. Show appreciation. Teens need to feel valued for the contribution they are making. Include the teens in any appreciation you are showing the adult leaders. Find a strength that each teen demonstrated during the week and send him a card complimenting him in that area.
  6. Continue the connection. Offer teens opportunities to continue to develop the relationships they have forged during VBS. Perhaps they can serve on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights with the age-group they helped in VBS.

 

6 Must Knows for Working With Teens

carol_editedVBS it’s not just for kids. LifeWay provides VBS curriculum for Babies–Adults. Student VBS can be an awesome way for your church to connect with and attract students. However, many people only view VBS as a kids ministry. If you church already has or is interested in promoting Student VBS, these 6 tips will help equip your leaders.

  1. Teens are searching for their identity. VBS provides a great opportunity to introduce teens to the best place to search for the answers they need. Instead of turning to friends, social media, TV, and other worldly advice, teach teens to dig deeper into what God’s Word has to say about their true identity.
  2. Relationships mean everything to teens. VBS provides an excellent platform for teens to build relationships with positive role models within the church as well as deepen their relationship with God.
  3. Teens are beginning to explore and question their belief system. Many teens oscillate between believing in God today and doubting that belief tomorrow. VBS provides a safe place for them to find the answers to some of their questions and help them learn how to defend their faith.
  4. Teens are very experiential. They need times to put their faith into action. VBS offers a time to focus on Missions and practical ideas for allowing teens to fulfill the need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
  5. Teens quickly jump from one topic to another and lose interest quickly if they are not engaged. VBS curriculum is intentionally written to help leaders transition between different types of activities to help keep teens engaged and on track.
  6. Teens are capable of and even desire the opportunity to lead. VBS provides opportunities for students to not only step up and lead in their own peer group, but they can also begin to lead and assist with the younger learners attending VBS.

 

The Heart of VBS—Evangelism

carol_editedBack in 1996  the VBS team felt God leading them to revisit the format and principles of “doing” VBS. In 1997 the new VBS was rolled out with The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede. Many of you could probably sing the theme song and have fond of memories of attending or leading VBS that year, but you may not have been aware that one of the driving principles of VBS was and is evangelism.

VBS is meant to be more than just a fun event for your church kids, more than just a summer diversion from the norm, more than just another program to check off the list. At the heart of VBS is evangelism. It’s that one chance you may have at getting those who might not otherwise step foot in a church to have an encounter with the Lord.

Recently at our Preview events Kelli McAnnly led a session outlining why we do VBS and strategies for embracing the true heart of VBS—reaching people of all ages, leading them to know and respond to Jesus Christ as led by the Holy Spirit. Kelli was gracious enough to allow me to share how she used the acrostic AGENCY D3 to help conferees be intentional about evangelism.

A–aware

  • Be aware of those around us that do not have a personal relationship with Christ.
  • View those in our churches and community who are hurting, lost, sad, and in need of Christ through His perspective and become aware of their lost souls.

G-give

  • Offer VBS as a reason to intentionally invite lost people to your church
  • Give people a bridge to the spiritual orphans in your community.
  • Give people an opportunity to clearly present the gospel
  • Give people an opportunity to respond to Christ in a public way.

E-enable

  • Enable your church to work together towards the Great Commission.
  • Enable VBS directors, leaders, parents, and staff to share the love of Christ with kids and their families.

N-navigate

  • Being evangelistic navigates an entry point for unchurched people.
  • Attract people to your church with programs like VBS for their kids. Then you can help them navigate the gospel and how it connects to their lives.
  • Remember the gospel makes VBS relevant. Without the gospel, it is just fun and games.

C-connect

  • Connect with families. The initial follow-up contact should be the discovery of the family network.
  • Pass information discovered on to the follow-up team and to age group classes.
  • Invite each member of the family to the appropriate Bible study class and other ministry opportunities.
  • Plan to have multiple contacts with the family over the following months.

Y-yield

  • Yield and surrender your heart to God’s plan
  • Use bold, creative strategies to teach people about Christ.

D3

  • Display—display the gospel. Be people who are evangelistic.
  • Demonstrate—demonstrate a life that follows Christ. Do things that bring Him glory.
  • Declare—declare the gospel. Tell people about Christ.

There are an estimated 313 million people living in the US. 98 million of those have accepted Jesus as their Savior. 43% of those accepted Jesus before reaching the age of 13. According to George Barna, evangelism is most effective among kids. Where is your heart?

From Derailed to Teachable Moment

carol_editedWe’ve all had them, those moments when some little something derails our whole lesson. We’ve prepared, recited in our minds how things are going to go, imagined how we’ll see the “lightbulbs come on” when the kids get it, then Wham one kid derails the whole shebang. This happened to me recently. I actually even anticipated that the picture of Baby Jesus that  looked like a picture of Charlie Brown could cause problems. I decided to head things off at the pass and find a more realistic picture of Baby Jesus to use. Armed with my picture and lesson, I set off to church feeling quite confident that the lesson I had envisioned would come to fruition. Only one little problem, I had forgotten that the Charlie Brown picture would show up again later in the lesson. And as predicted, when the pictures were handed out for the last activity, my one rambunctious child immediately yelled, “Hey, it’s Charlie Brown!”

Then a discussion ensued as to whether or not Charlie Brown had hair because the baby in this picture had a little hair. And in God’s infinite wisdom, He saw fit to send one little girl to the library before coming to church. Guess what book she checked out. Yep, it was a Snoopy book. Yes, she did indeed bring it to class instead of leaving it in the car, so she could show an actual picture of Charlie Brown and put the matter to rest. He does indeed have a little swirl of hair. So what to do now that all the kids were labeling their pictures “Charlie Brown” instead of “Baby Jesus?”

We tried reminding the kids that this was just supposed to be a picture to help them remember that Baby Jesus was special even though He looked and acted like all the other babies. We told the kids that Jesus was better than Charlie Brown ever could be. We asked if Charlie Brown would die on the cross for us. Now some kids reasoned that he might die on a cross for us. At this point we reminded the kids that even if he did, it would never be enough. Only the sacrifice of a sinless person, only Jesus would ever be enough. And then they began to focus less on Charlie Brown and more on the true meaning of how special Jesus is and how we need Him to be our Savior.

So in that moment when your lesson is derailed, do not fear, do not feel defeated, this may just be the teachable moment God has planned.

Tips for Moving from Derailed to Teachable Moment

1. Anticipate and plan for things that could derail your lesson. It can be something as small as the artwork you use, but know that kids will pick up on the small things.

2. Turn the moments around by asking questions and guiding discussion. Lead the kids back to the biblical truth that you are trying to drive home.

3. Take a “time out.” Stop for a moment, take a deep breath, regroup, and start again. The more flustered you get about the situation, the more kids will want to continue the distraction.

4. Remember that this may not have been in your plan, but it very well could have been in God’s plan.

Share with us your tips that get you moving from a derailed moment to a teachable one in the comments.