Random Tip 1403 – A Job For Everyone

wooley1 2013Although it is typically the least effective, the most common way to enlist workers is to place an announcement in the church bulletin or make a passionate plea from the pulpit.

While this type of enlistment will result in a few volunteers, it is often the volunteers who say, “I’m happy to help but I can’t teach and don’t want to be in a classroom with kids.”

So now you have a dilemma. You just made an “all-hands-0n-deck” plea, but you don’t know what to do with people who made the above statement.

Before you ask for volunteers, make a list of all the possible ways someone could make a director’s life easier both before and during the week of VBS. Keep the list with you at all time and be ready (AND WILLING) to delegate a project the moment someone even hints at volunteering.

A few of the things on my personal list would be:

  • Decorating the common areas such as foyer, halls, and registration area
  • Making copies both before and during the week of VBS
  • Being available to make the daily last minute run to the store
  • Picking up trash and helping the facilities crew prepare rooms for the next day
  • Resetting the auditorium after worship rally
  • Parking lot security

Let me know what jobs you would add to the list.

Random Tip 1402 – The Daily Sack

wooley1 2013My all-time favorite VBS organization tip is The Daily Sack – or The Daily Box. It requires a little pre-planning and preparation, but it is a sure cure for the daily stress and anxiety of trying to locate everything needed at the last minute.

The concept is almost too simple to mention, but I’m sure it will become one of your favorite all-time tips as well.

Step 1: Gather six large paper grocery bags or, especially with the theme Agency D3, six file boxes.

Step 2: Label bags/boxes with the day of each session. For example, the first sack would be labeled “Day 1″. Label the sixth bag/box “Daily Supplies”.

Step 3: Schedule time in one sitting to look over all five sessions of the leader guide. Make three lists of needed items for each session. One for items to gather from around your home or the church resource room. The second list for items that need to be purchased. And the third list for resources that need to be cut out or constructed. Remove resources from the leader pack and separate them by the sessions they are to be used. You should end up with six stacks: one for each day, plus one for items that will be used every day. Place each stack of resources in the appropriate sack or box.

Step 4: With the first two lists in hand, make a trip to the church resource room and store. Try to gather all supplies in one trip. Once you return home, separate the supplies into the appropriate sack or box.

Step 5: Set aside a time to complete all projects on the third list and place the items in the appropriate sack.

Step 6: On the day of VBS just grab your sack and go!

A Letter of Appreciation to My Pastor

wooley1 2013Dear Pastor,

I didn’t want Pastor Appreciation Month to pass without taking a moment to express my thankfulness for the many ways you shepherd us, encourage us, love us, and challenges us throughout the year, but especially through the ministry of Vacation Bible School.

Thank you for voicing your conviction that VBS remains one of the very best ways to reach unchurched boys and girls, and their families, with the Gospel.

Thank you for reminding the congregation that VBS is the biggest evangelistic ministry we will conduct all year and that VBS is an all-church ministry, not just a children’s ministry.

Thank you for making VBS a priority not only on the church calendar, but your personal calendar as well.

Thank you for insisting VBS be adequately funded through the evangelism and outreach portion of the church budget.

Thank you for leading the way by not only being the first person to volunteer, but for saying, “just tell me what you need me to do and I’ll do it.”

And when I asked you to lead in the Worship Rally by climbing a 40-foot mountain created from construction scaffolding, staying curled up for 20 minutes in a preschool-size tent, or swinging on a cable above the heads of the kids, you didn’t for one minute respond hesitantly or suggest that I had lost my mind. Thank you for leading by example.

Thank you for visiting every classroom, for spending time with the kids during snacks and recreation, and being on the parking lot to meet parents and thank them for bringing the kids.

Most of all, thank you for being our biggest cheerleader! When we thought we couldn’t do it, you assured us we could. When frustration and anxiety might have ruled the day, you brought calm. When exhaustion started robbing our joy, your words of encouragement renewed our strength and resolve to not give up.

Thank you for being a VBS Pastor!

 

***

 How does your Pastor participate in VBS? Don’t forget to say thank you!

Calling all VBS Geeks!

Those of us on the VBS team eat, sleep, and breathe VBS all year long! We love getting to work on a product that reaches so many people and we want it to be the best that it can be. And we know that there are those of you out there who also love VBS as much as we do! We are looking for you! We want to hear your stories. You spend hours organizing, planning, decorating, building sets, and so much more to make this a meaningful event for your church. Leave a comment with a name or nominate yourself to be one of our VBS Geeks of the Week. We will share the stories and send them a cool T-shirt!

vbsgeekoftheweek1

 

Random Tip 1401 – The Official VBS Clock

wooley1 2013While planning for my first year (yes, VBS is a year-round event) of VBS at Park Place Baptist Church in Houston, I was introduced to the official – not to be taken for granted – VBS CLOCK!

There it was – round, off-white face, black rim -  like so many other clocks in the building. Just doing its best to stay relevant. There was nothing spectacular about this clock, yet it was very, very special! This clock had been designated by the VBS Director as THE OFFICIAL VBS CLOCK!

At first I thought it a silly idea and a little too bureaucratic for my taste.  Why bother? Every room was equipped with a clock, and the last time I noticed everyone who had volunteered so far typically wore a watch. What we were in desperate need of was more time, not more time keepers!

But then my friend and VBS Director, Dava Donaho, patiently explained that the time on every clock and watch was just a few seconds off from the next. Typically not a problem, but seconds turn into minutes, and when dealing with a schedule that was already too tight to allow for more than five minutes between each rotation, lost minutes could turn rotation into a disaster. The light came on and THE OFFICIAL VBS CLOCK made perfect sense!

During worker training the glory and importance of the official VBS clock was highlighted. Workers were reminded to make a daily check to be sure their watches and the clocks in the rooms matched the official time. THE OFFICIAL VBS CLOCK saved the day – or in this case the week! We were able to rotate 500 kids as easily and in the same amount of time as we could rotate 5.

As a well-known TV hostess might say, “The OFFICIAL VBS CLOCK – It’s a good thing!”

Over the next few weeks I am going to use this space to share some of my favorite VBS tips. I’ll just say up front that none of them will be original. For some of you the information will be new and for others just a reminder of what you already know and do. I have asked several friends to add their ideas, and now I’m inviting you to share your tips as well. Just hit reply and wow us with your VBS wisdom! By the way, if I haven’t told you lately, I sure do appreciate what you do as you go about connecting people to the Gospel through the fantastic ministry of VBS!

VBS 2014 Jump Start Kit Available Today!

Let the celebration begin!!!

LifeWay’s new VBS 2014 Jump Start Kit is available at LifeWay Christian Stores today!

jump start kit

Pre-orders started shipping last week so many of you have already had a chance to explore this great new resource.

We would love to hear your reaction to both the Jump Start Kit and the new Takin’ It Home CD.

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 6: Takin' It Home

wooley1 2013The newest addition to LifeWay’s family of VBS resources is the VBS 2014 Takin’ It Home CD. You may have read about it back in June.

Takin’ It Home is truly one of the most exciting aspects of VBS to come along in years. VBS leaders and pastors are constantly trying to figure out ways to connect with parents, and this is it!

Takin’ It Home CD is designed for families to listen to in the car on the way home from VBS. A segment for each day not only serves as a review for the the kids, but introduces the content, life application, and memory verse to the parents as well. Each day families will be challenged to have intentional conversations with each other. Families will also be challenged to pray together and return the following Sunday for Bible study and worship.

We tested Takin’ It Home with four churches this summer and have heard great stories such as the parents in Florida who made professions of faith as a result of interacting with their kids and the CD. Or the mom in Tennessee who rushed into the church office wanting to know where she could get a copy for a neighbor family. We also heard from a mom who said she had never had such meaningful conversations with her kids.

We believe so much in this resource that we have done everything we can to make it possible for every family to have a copy of their own. Every church will receive a copy in the Jump Start Kit, along with permission to make as many copies as needed. In a few weeks  there will also be free downloadable files at lifeway.com/vbs. Again, make as many copies as you wish.

If you do not have a way to make copies, or if you would just enjoy the convenience of having them made for you, we have taken care of that as well. You can choose to purchase Takin’ It Home CDs in 10 packs.

For a few extra dollars you can have the message of Takin’ It Home customized especially for your church. Our actors will record the segments specifically for your church, along with a message of invitation to attend future services and events. You will receive a master copy and permission to reproduce as many copies as you need.

VBS continues to be one of the very best ways to connect with unchurched families, and now Takin’ It Home makes it easier than ever to connect with parents.

 

 

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 5: 6 Step VBS Continued

wooley1 2013Last Tuesday I introduced you to the simplification and reorganization of the VBS 2014 Administrative Guide for Directors based on LifeWay’s 6 Step VBS. Age-group leader guides have also been simplified as well – you are going to love the cleaner look – beginning with Page 1 which includes a version of the 6 Step VBS designed specifically for teachers.

1. Prepare Your Heart

2. Get the Basic Facts from Your VBS Director

3. Plan

4. Gather and Prepare

5. Teach

6. Continue the Connection

Following is a brief explanation – at least in my words – of what each step means.

Prepare Your Heart: Great teachers are first great learners. Preparing our hearts to teach VBS means first allowing the message of each Bible story to speak to and transform us personally. The Bible content of Colossal Coaster World is a great example. Before I could teach others to face fear by trusting God, I had to first trust God with some of my own fears.

Get the Basic Facts from Your Director: Simple facts such as session time, room assignment, and a list of other activities and rotations planned for the day, are essential to the planning process. This may seem like a no-brainer, but regrettably I have been the teacher who was told, “Just show up a few minutes early and we’ll tell you what you need to know.” Can you say, “Mistake!”?

Plan: Take time to look over all five sessions to learn how each connects to the others. Once you have the big picture you can begin planning one session at a time, making lists of items to gather and prepare for each day.

Gather and Prepare: My favorite way to prepare for VBS is to create a master list of all the resources I need to gather, purchase, or prepare. With list in hand I like to make one raid on the church resource room, one shopping trip, and take one evening to put everything together. Then, using six boxes or bags, I separate everything by the day it will be used. The sixth box is for the resources that will be used every day. By taking time in advance to gather and organize I save tremendous time and anxiety the day of the session. Each morning I simply review the lesson, pick up the appropriate box, and head to church.

Teach: There is a little more involved here than just reading or telling a passage from the Bible. But with a little preparation and a little knowledge of why a variety of learning activities are important, transformational teaching will be much easier than you might imagine.

Continue the Connection: We spend all week getting to know and influence kids, and then on the last day of VBS we tear down the decorations, throw the resources in a closet, run to our cars, and consider the job done. VBS is one of the best opportunities the church has to connect with unchurched kids and their families, yet we so often cut the relationship off just as it is gaining momentum. Think of it as starting to build a bridge but then halting construction half way across the river. Continue the Connection (follow-up) is not the responsibility of the pastor, the VBS director, nor any one person or team. Continuing the connections started during VBS is the responsibility of every VBS worker and church member.

To learn more about these six simple steps check out Page 1 of a LifeWay’s VBS leader guide which will be available in December.

Next week, Tour Stop 6: Takin’ It Home

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 4: 6 Step VBS

wooley1 2013Is it really possible to boil VBS down to six simple steps? Well, maybe not, but you spoke and we listened! You said, “Make VBS simpler!” So LifeWay’s VBS team went back to the drawing board and looked for ways to make it happen.

The first thing we did was take a look at the way the Administrative Guide for Directors was organized. Actually the admin guide had already been reorganized for 2013 around six categories, and many of you enthusiastically responded that it was a great change. As we pondered (a favorite word and action of our VBS publishing team leader) these six categories, we realized they are the bases of six simple yet extremely necessary steps required for planning and conducting a successful VBS.

The Six Steps for VBS directors and pastors are:

1. Know Your Purpose and Theme

2. Start Planning

3. Enlist and Train Workers

4. Promote and Publicize

5. Register Participants

6. Continue the Connection

Like I said, simple!

Know Your Purpose and Theme: Most people assume they know why VBS is being conducted, but in reality there are typically as many different reasons as there are people on your team. Successful Bible schools are organized and conducted around a focused and unified purpose. I’m hoping the purpose of your VBS is evangelism!

Once you know your purpose you must know your theme, or better yet know the purpose of your curriculum. For example, is your curriculum and theme designed for evangelism or for something else? Look closely, you might be surprised!

Start Planning: Great planning follows a process that includes creating a calendar or work timeline, allocating dollars in a budget, and enlisting key leadership.

Enlist and Train Workers: An important aspect of enlisting workers is to outline expectations and responsibilities clearly and then turn the workers loose to do their jobs. A key expectation should be participation in training!

Promote and Publicize: Promotion, first to the congregation and then to the community, needs to begin early and reoccur often.

Register Participants: Registration seems like a no-brainer, yet many VBS leaders fail to capture accurate and adequate information for every participant. As a result, the ability to carry out the sixth step becomes limited.

Continue the Connection: For decades we have called it follow-up, but have come to realize that much more than mailing a thanks-for-attending postcard is needed if we are going to connect unchurched families to the Gospel and to the church.

Check out the VBS 2014 Administrative Guide for Directors for more detailed information on each of these six steps. This year you can implement these steps earlier than ever with the all-new VBS 2014 Jump Start Kit that will be available in October!

Next week, Tour Stop 5: 6 Step VBS Continued – introducing the six steps of the age-group leader guides.

 

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 3: Kids Evidence Kit

wooley1 2013Hands down, the coolest Agency D3 resource you will discover is the all new VBS 2014 Kids Evidence Kit which replaces the age-specific learner guides and activity paks for Grades 1 – 6.

With the Kids Evidence Kit (005545856) you will have a one-size-fits-all ordering experience! You read it correctly! The same Kids Evidence Kit is designed to be used by all kids in Grades 1 – 6. So instead of trying to figure out how many kids you will have in each age group, just estimate the total number of elementary-aged kids and you are ready to go.

The super fun Kids Evidence Kit contains all the gadgets necessary for the special agents attending your VBS. Each kit contains five (baseball card size) evidence cards complete with a summary of daily evidence on one side, plus additional clues on the other side that can only be uncovered using the exclusive D3 Decoder. Each evidence kit also contains a Special Agent ID Card, an Evidence Log, and the essential of all essentials – an Invisible Ink Pen and flashlight.

Kids of all ages have enjoyed writing secret messages with the Invisible Ink Pen. In fact, the big kids (adults) who have experimented with it so far have not wanted to give it up.

Kids will also have fun revealing their Special Agent ID each day as they enter the lab. It is the perfect size to conceal in a wallet or in a plastic name badge holder.

Possibly the best thing about the new Kids Evidence Kit is there was no price increase ($2.29) from the Daily Park Guides used this year for Colossal Coaster World.

So you are probably wondering how this one resource is age appropriate for all kids in Grades 1-6. The answer is the way the various items are used during Bible study sessions. Instructions for use are found in Leader Guides and each age group has assignments specific to that age.

Agency D3 is going to be one of the most fun Bible schools ever, but even more important is the terrific content that challenges kids, teens, and adults to not only discover who Jesus is but gives them the tools to defend their faith.

Next week, VBS 2014 Tour Stop 4: 6 Step VBS