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

Celebrating 90: Did You Know? Part 3

LifeWay’s VBS team is celebrating 90 years of life-changing resources for the ministry we all love and know as Vacation Bible School. Here are just a few tidbits you might not find in a history book.

  • Approximately 3,000,000 people enrolled in VBS last year.
  • It is rumored the first VBS (Daily Bible School) included lessons on hygiene. Considering VBS was started by a doctor’s wife there just might be truth to the rumor.
  • The first VBS was started by Mrs. Eliza Hawes in response to the stories her doctor husband (Walter Aylett Hawes) told about the injuries sustained by kids playing in the streets of New York City. Mrs. Hawes began her school in 1898.
  • LifeWay’s VBS resources include over 100 individual products.
  • In 2008, 97% of leaders surveyed said the greatest need in VBS is help with follow-up.
  • Approximately one million unchurched individuals are discovered each year as a result of VBS.
  • The first associational Daily Vacation Bible School training clinic was held by the Grayson County Association at Sherman, Texas in 1928.
Celebrating 90: LifeWay Christian Resources began publishing VBS resources in 1925 under the leadership of Dr. Homer Grice.

Celebrating 90: Did You Know? Part 2

As LifeWay’s VBS team continues celebrating 90 years of VBS heritage we thought you might enjoy these milestone facts.

  • The first VBS was called Everyday School and held in New York City in 1898.
  • Approximately 80,000 professions of faith are made each year during thee week of VBS.This number does not include the decisions made public in the following days and weeks.
  • LifeWay’s VBS music from previous years is available on iTunes.
  • Average VBS enrollment is 100 including workers.
  • Approximately 10 percent of people attending VBS claim to be unchurched.
  • LifeWay produces VBS resources for preschoolers and kids in Spanish.
  • LifeWay produces VBS resources based on the same Biblical theme and Scripture for every member of the family including kids and adults with special needs.
  • In 1992 Southern Baptist churches hit a VBS enrollment record of 3,709,174.
Celebrating 90: LifeWay Christian Resources began publishing VBS resources in 1925 under the leadership of Dr. Homer Grice.

VBS Team Geek of the Week: Bethany Brown

vbsgeekoftheweek1We are back this week with another VBS team member as Geek of the Week. Bethany is one of our newer team members, but has a long VBS history! Here’s Bethany!


  1. What is your role on the VBS Team? Production Editor- grammar, fact checking, the fun nitpicky stuff!
  2. What is your “geekiest” moment? Probably helping my mom promote Ocean Odyssey when I was in middle school. I don’t remember all of what I had to do, but it involved wearing light, summer clothes on a cold spring day up onto the church stage, while holding a giant stuffed seal. I still have the seal, her name is April.
  3. What has been your favorite VBS theme? Journey off the Map! It’s the first theme I’ve gotten to see through from beginning to end since coming to work at LifeWay and I LOVE how imaginative the design is…so fun and whimsical and yet somewhere kids could really imagining traveling to.
  4. You might be a VBS geek if . . . One phrase in a conversation makes you break into VBS song.
  5. What makes you love working on VBS? I love the creative part of our process, getting to dream big and imagine what will make products easier for churches to use. I also love that God can use everything from the tiniest grammar detail to the biggest, most visible thing we do, for His glory and to bring children closer to Him.


Celebrating 90: Did You Know? Part 1

LifeWay Christian Resources, formerly known as The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, first created what became known as the Daily Vacation Bible School Department in 1924 — so we’re CELEBRATING 90! Ninety years of history, but more importantly 90 years of transformed lives, families, churches and communities.

VBS started as an evangelistic outreach and has stayed true to the mission. Millions upon millions of people have professed faith in Jesus Christ as a result of being exposed to the Gospel through VBS.

LifeWay’s VBS team is proud of the heritage that we stand on. Here’s a glimpse at our history.

  • Dr. Homer Grice, a pastor from Washington, Georgia, was hired as the first Secretary in Charge of the Daily Vacation Bible School Department and Editor of Daily Vacation Bible School textbooks.
  • The first guides, or textbooks, for leaders were published in 1925 and contained 20 “daily programs and appendices of music, games, handwork patterns and other necessary material.”
  • The first extensive manual for pastors and Bible school leaders, The Daily Vacation Bible School Guide, was written and published by Dr. Grice in 1926. A small pamphlet outlining the need and purpose of Bible schools had been published by The Sunday School Board in 1922.
  • Daily Vacation Bible Schools were designed for four weeks, five days a week, for children over five and under 17 years of age.
  • The most dramatic change in the 90 year history of LifeWay’s VBS curriculum occurred in 1997 with the introduction of The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede: Telling Others about Jesus. Both the curriculum and the format of VBS was revolutionized centering around a theme that permeated every aspect of the VBS day.
  • Prior to Good News Stampede, themes were Go for the Gold (1996), Windows on the World (1995), Trail of Treasures (1994), Summer Shine (1993), Fantastic Journey (1992), Celebrate Jesus (1991), and Share Hope: Reach Through VBS (1990).
  • In 2003 LifeWay introduced a Spanish translation of the VBS theme and resources.

Celebrating 90: LifeWay Christian Resources began publishing VBS resources in 1925 under the leadership of Dr. Homer Grice. We would love to celebrate your VBS memories. What do you remember about the first VBS you attended? 

What Are You Reading?

bethanySomething I love about working at LifeWay is the frequent emphasis on training and improving. We’re often reading and studying new resources, whether for education or inspiration, that help us improve what we do. So I thought I’d take an informal poll of what the VBS team is reading right now.

I’m reading the audio book of Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers, which is a fun step into the whimsical mind of a child, as well as some thoughts about discipline. The original Mary Poppins of the books was a lot more stern and less fun than the one in the Disney movie, but still the children adore her and do everything they can to please her. Of course we should always be kind to the children we teach,  kinder than she is I would think, but it helped me realize children yearn for boundaries and rules to help their world be ordered and feel safe. This is something that’s easy to forget. I also love the Money Saving Mom blog. I’m not a mom, but I love her tips for saving money and spending quality time with kids. I’ve found lots of ideas that translate well to kids’ ministry through her. Her writings on homemaking, grocery savings and faith and identity are also really helpful to me personally.


carol_editedCarol Tomlinson: “I just finished reading Teenology by Jim Burns. Great parenting resources for parents of teens and for student leaders.”





brown2Gordon Brown: “I’m currently reading: A Gospel Primer—for Christians by Milton Vincent, a cool little book about the power of gospel; allowing it to color the way we look at the world and The Reason For God—Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller.”





DSC_0009Andrea Spikes: “A book I’m reading right now is Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Its about seeing the work and life of Christ as something to contemplate every day; I’m also reading City of God by St. Augustine.”






VanCleave - new (1)Rhonda VanCleave: “I’m currently reading: 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God That Invites You Into His Story by Larry Crabb (I’m really enjoying it, but it is a read that will take a while. It is a good book to read a bit, then stop to ponder.) I also follow a quilter’s blog. I have no time to play with with my stash, but I enjoying dreaming as I watch her designs. She does heart strings quilts for charity. I also love Ree Drummond “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” blog (and TV show). I’ve actually made some of her recipes with success!




chalkboard headshotI am reading Crashing the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick.  It’s a book that reminds you to know your worth to God and to listen to His voice above all others.





Wow! Such deep minded team mates I have! I’ve added a few to my reading list and I hope you have too! What are you reading right now? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.



It’s Time to Report Your VBS

wooley1 2013

VBS 2014 reports have been arriving in my office by the thousands. If quantity of mail is any indication I must have the most popular address on the 7th floor. Of course the envelopes are actually addressed to the VBS Report Desk – which you might find humorous to learn is nothing more than a FAX machine sitting on a small metal foot stool in a corner of my office. So actually it is the Report Desk that holds title to the most popular address.

If you have not already done so, it is time to file your report as well. Here are a few reasons why reporting your VBS is valuable to both your church and to LifeWay.

1. Filling out the report forces you and your VBS ministry leaders to take time to evaluate your goals, actions, and results. Were your goals realistic and achievable?

2.  Reporting VBS 2014 creates a bench mark for setting goals for next year and future years.

3. Creating a year-to-year record reveals the long-term health of your VBS ministry. Are the numbers increasing or decreasing? Are your efforts resulting in professions of faith and other decisions?

4. Your VBS report is a vital element of your continued connection (follow up) process. It helps you clearly identify the number of unchurched families who participated in VBS and who need to be connected to ongoing ministries such as Sunday School.

5. Your VBS report becomes a tangible part of your ministry’s story that should be shared and celebrated.

6. Your VBS report and evaluation helps the LifeWay VBS team create future resources and training opportunities. Your report helps us measure the evangelistic health and effectiveness of our ministry and curriculum offerings.

To report your VBS you can fill out the Director’s Evaluation found in the Administrative Guide and mail it in. Or you can submit it electronically here.

VBS Team Geek of the Week: Carol Tomlinson

vbsgeekoftheweek2Today’s VBS team member Geek of the Week is Carol Tomlinson. Hope you enjoy getting to know her!


  1. What is your role on the VBS team? Content editor for Preteen, Students, Crafts, and Missions
  2. What was your “geekiest” VBS moment? Visiting the Goodwill Outlet with my team to rummage through large bins of stuff that could be use to make gadgets for Agency D3 Previews.
  3. What has been your favorite VBS theme? Outrigger Island & Agency D3 loved that both of these could simply answer the truth about who Jesus is and helped kids learn to answer the tough questions.
  4. You might be a VBS geek if . . . you think of how the food on the grocery aisles could be used in a trail mix.
  5. What makes you love working on VBS? I love working on VBS because it speaks to all generations. Young and old always have a favorite VBS memory to share. I love that God allows me to have a small part in spreading His word in such a fun, memorable curriculum.


What to Save for 2015







Want a jump on prepping for VBS 2015 decorations? Here’s a list of things you can start saving (and collecting) now for next summer.

  • Giant, colorful flowers (stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and JoAnn’s have tons of summer decor on sale at the end of the season)
  • Natural grass skirts or tablecloths
  • Palm fronds
  • Sticks, branches, bamboo poles, and the like
  • Green plastic tablecloths (for vines)
  • Green vinyl tablecloths (for lily pads)
  • Blue foil curtain (door curtain available from party supply stores)

Be sure to check back on August 29th for a list of craft supplies to start saving!

From the Archives: Questions To Ask About Your VBS Promotion

wooley1 2013LifeWay’s VBS team is Celebrating 90! That’s 90 years of providing VBS curriculum, training, and administrative helps that have been used by thousands of churches to reach millions of unchurched kids, teens, and adults. I’ve been combing the archives for advice from the past that is just as relevant today.

This list of questions will be a valuable resource as you begin planning printed promotions (flyers, newspaper and web advertisements, and bulletin inserts) for VBS 2015.

1. Does the message focus on how VBS will benefit the family?


2. Is the copy exciting, compelling, easy to read, quickly understood, and directed to one person (written as if you are telling one friend)?


3. Are all the essential details included (church name, location, dates, times, ages, cost, and contact information)?


4. Does the copy end with a call to action (enroll now, phone for additional information)?


5. Are the graphics appropriate and related to the VBS theme?


6. Does the appearance and message project quality and create a positive first impression of the Bible school and church?

Celebrating 90: LifeWay Christian Resources began publishing VBS resources in 1925 under the leadership of Dr. Homer Grice.