5 Ways to Stay Connected with Preschool Families from VBS

by Klista Stortschalkboard headshot

Connecting with new families is one of the main reasons for conducting Vacation Bible School in your community.  If it’s not, you might need to take a closer look at why you’re doing it!  And because we most often target elementary aged kids with VBS, you might be overlooking an important group that needs your connection – families with preschoolers.  Here are five ways to consider how you can reach those families and keep them connected to your church.

  1. Pair up the child’s future Small Group or Sunday School teacher with the VBS leader when making a follow-up visit to a preschooler’s home.  The child has bonded with the VBS teacher during the week, and chances are, so has the parent! That transition on Sunday morning should go a lot more smoothly once they’ve met.
  2. Enlist parents with similarly aged kids to connect with a specific preschool family. Give a gift card to help pay for a quick meal at a local kid-friendly restaurant to encourage them to make a play date.
  3. Offer classes on parenting, finances, marriage and other family issues that would benefit preschool parents.  Now that they know you’ll take great care of their children, and made new friends of their own, they’ll be more likely to attend.
  4. Make sure they know you have other activities! Put together a calendar of future events and classes—include your Sunday morning services—and invite them to come.  The number one reason people attend is because they were invited!
  5. Promise to meet them at the front door on their first Sunday morning. Show them where their children’s classes are, take them to your small group, and sit with them during worship! Everything is easier when you do it with a friend!

My prayer is that these will just get you started. Keep that connection going all year long. Love on these parents and their children.  Let them know that your church cares, not just the week of VBS, but the other 51 weeks as well.

Let us know how your church connects! Blessings, friends!

5 Reasons My Pastor Loves VBS!

brown2Hey guys.

I’ve always been impressed with my pastor’s involvement in VBS, so I asked him if he would share a bit about why he, as Senior Pastor, thinks being involved in VBS is a good thing.

Here’s what he said:

1. VBS gives the pastor a chance to be directly and almost exclusively engaged with the children in ways that he can’t be on Sunday morning. Reflecting on Jesus’ blessing of the children, one of the easiest ways a pastor can be like Jesus is to be involved in VBS!

2. VBS gives children a chance to see a different side of the pastor which, for many of the children, may be a chance to see how God could call them one day to be a pastor, missionary, etc. This is why I try to be around for the worship rally and make myself available to visit classes to share a Bible story during the week.

3. Nothing can take the place of a pastor’s involvement in the evangelistic emphasis associated with VBS. This involvement is strengthened when the pastor has been a visible part of VBS throughout the week.

4. Pastors can become heroes to the kids in VBS. When an un-churched family member comes with the child for something like a Family night, an involved pastor who has already befriended the child has a better opportunity to connect with the adult family member.

5. When a pastor is involved with VBS he has a chance to interact with all of the adult volunteers who make up the VBS faculty. Again, this is going to be different from the typical Sunday morning interaction. Adults who are giving a week of their time to staff VBS will form a closer bond with their pastor and appreciate his love and attention for the children.

We’re thankful to Senior Pastor Frank R. Lewis of First Baptist Nashville for sharing his thoughts. Does your senior pastor love VBS? If not, maybe you can encourage him with these 5 reasons Pastor Lewis serves at his church’s VBS.

From the Archives: “Preparing for VBS” Part 3

wooley1 2013As we continue to Celebrate 90, today’s archives wisdom comes from a 1997 training outline titled: 62 Ways to Prepare Yourself for A Galactic Good News Adventure. While some of the ideas were specific to the theme, here are six more reminders that apply every year. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 for additional ways to prepare yourself for VBS.

1. Visit lifeway.com/vbs for additional ideas and suggestions. (And don’t forget PINTEREST and FACEBOOK, which are now two of our most popular sources for sharing ideas.)

2. Write your personal VBS Purpose Statement.

3. Delegate as much responsibility (at home and church) as possible so you will have time to enjoy the excitement of the VBS week.

4. Make a VBS preparation checklist.

5. Call or send a note to a VBS worker from your past and tell him/her how their ministry impacted your life.

6. Enlist adults (and teens) who will not be able to attend VBS to help you with preparations.

 

 

From the Archives: “Preparing for VBS” Part 2

wooley1 2013We’re Celebrating 90! That’s 90 years of publishing VBS curriculum, and I’ve been digging through the archives.

Today’s wisdom is obviously a continuation of Part 1, and comes from a 1997 training outline titled: 62 Ways to Prepare Yourself for A Galactic Good News Adventure. While some of the ideas were specific to the theme, here are six reminders that apply every year.

1. Conduct a prayer walk around the church campus.

2. Prepare meals for the week of VBS ahead of time and freeze them (double your recipe and share with another VBS worker).

3. Pray that other churches in your community will catch a vision for the evangelistic opportunities provided by VBS.

4. Make sure you know how to lead children to Christ by studying the inside cover of your VBS leader guide.

5. Enlist a homebound member of your church to be your personal VBS prayer warrior.

6. Search your closet, garage, and second-hand stores for your theme-related costume.

Today’s Trivia: LifeWay Christian Resources began publishing VBS resources in 1925 under the leadership of Dr. Homer Grice, a pastor from Dallas, Georgia.

How Do You Collect a VBS Offering?

candace-1We want to hear how you get your kids involved in helping to collect an offering during VBS. We know many of our own churches make the offering a competition between boys and girls or each grade to see who can bring the most. Some churches set a goal and if that offering goal is met, then the pastor or other staff member gets a pie in their face! It is also great to hear stories from churches who do not take up money as an offering, but collect school supplies, canned food, and so forth for a local ministry. There are so many options out there, but the most important thing is getting your kids involved. We would love to hear how you do this!

For a little incentive, we want to have a giveaway! We will pick one winner from our comments and send you five Agency D3 bags from our Preview events. Can’t wait to hear your stories!

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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!

Making VBS Your Own

Sequence 01_4

Nothing says summer like a cardboard slide.

Every year when I edit the grammar and style of the VBS material, I pause over the paragraphs about making VBS your own and smile.

 

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It’s more fun if it twists sideways, or even backwards on the way down. I promise.

These sections tell you that you don’t have to use VBS curriculum just as it’s written, but can adjust it to fit your schedule, age groups, number of teachers, and any other needs you have.

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An excellent model of proper slide sitting procedure.

And I smile because I know so many people who already do this so well. From stories of a helicopter landing at one Agency D3 this year to the rumor of a VBS villain trying to stomp out truth until he was thwarted by a Special Agent who had come to teach the kids the real truth, I know that so many of you get this concept so well!

Sequence 01_3

See, I told you, backwards!

One of my favorite examples is my home church where my dad pastors, Witt Baptist Church in Morristown TN. Every year, regardless of the theme, the kids most look forward to the giant cardboard slide. Someone with access to a lot of cardboard at work brings it every year, enough to cover the huge hill in front of the church, with a few more pieces to use as sleds. It’s better than a snow day if you can believe some of their faces. This wouldn’t work at any other church in the community, because no one else has that generous person who works with a lot of cardboard, not to mention a giant hill to put it on. But rather than cutting it out because it didn’t match the theme, the church decided to make it a tradition.

Sequence 01_5

Laying down and pulling on the front may increase velocity. Maybe.

There are other things churches do, from hosting VBS every Wednesday night for five weeks because of a hectic summer schedule, to serving supper instead of snacks to help kids who usually depend on school lunches, to using one master teacher for all 6 elementary grades because of the unique skills of a church member; that make each VBS special and different.

Sequence 01

At this point the grass has so much more traction, you often vault over the “tongue” of the sled. Grass stains anyone?

It’s easy to fall into a rut of wanting everything to come about just like the checklist in your Administrative Guide or Leader Guide says it should. But with a little flexibility and an openness to letting the DNA of your church and community shine through your VBS, I think you’ll open up more room for God to move and work.

Sequence 01_1

And it would be fun if Agent 001, AKA Pastor Doug (my dad) didn’t join in!

And it might just be a ton of fun!

How do you make your VBS fun and different? How is it tailored to the needs of your church and community? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

From the Archives: “Preparing for VBS” Part 1

wooley1 2013September 1, 1924 was a big day in the history of Vacation Bible School. It was the official start of LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Department. The department as such no longer exist, but the ministry of publishing VBS curriculum and training church leaders to use it is bigger and better than ever.

From time to time, over the next year, I’m going back to the archives to not only honor our past but to glean insight and wisdom from the ages.

Today’s wisdom comes from a 1997 training outline titled: 62 Ways to Prepare Yourself for A Galactic Good News Adventure. While some of the ideas were specific to the theme, here are six reminders that apply every year.

1. Pray (without ceasing).

2. Learn the Worship Rally music in advance by listening to its while running errands and picking up VBS supplies.

3. Enlist someone to be your personal VBS prayer partner.

4. Pray for the children, youth, and adults who will accept Jesus as Savior and Lord during VBS.

5. Ask someone who became a Christian during a previous VBS to share his/her story with you.

6. Keep a “To Do List” handy to jot down middle-of-the-night inspirations.

Trivia for the day: both Rhonda Van Cleave (VBS publishing team leader) and I served on the think tank that created A Galactic Good News Adventure. It was our first time to work together.

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.

Another 2015 Sneak Peek

You’ve already gotten a sneak peek at the interior and exterior of the Tangled Branch Tree House (Bible Study) and Survival Springs (snacks). “But what about the other rotations?” you say. “We must see more!” Have no fear, the others are right here! Enjoy this little preview of what’s to come next summer on your “Journey Off the Map!”

Shady Grove (crafts)

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Boulder Bridge (missions)

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Rushing Waters (music)

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