April Is for Training

20140114-075705.jpgJust as April showers result in a profusion of May flowers, VBS training results in a bounty just as beautiful and rich.

Spring can be hectic at best. If Easter, graduations, weddings, and little league do not fill your calendar there is always the flurry of activity in preparation for VBS! It is tempting to push training aside – especially this year with Easter so late in April.

Chances are you might be asking yourself, “is training really that important?” After all, most VBS workers have been doing the same thing for years and could successfully lead VBS in their sleep. Right?

The truth is, many VBS workers do have tremendous experience and need very little help or instruction. AND, getting workers to attend a training session can be challenging enough. Then there is the time and energy required to prepare and promote the training event. There is no wonder you might be tempted to just hope for the best and hope workers find everything they need to know in the leader guides.

But training is important – even for the person who has worked in VBS every year since LifeWay first published VBS resources in 1925.

To highlight “April Is For Training,” LifeWays VBS team has created a series of posts containing six tips for your personal training or to use as you train VBS workers in your church. (By the way, six tips work great with LifeWay’s six-sided Giant Inflatable Game Cube.) We begin with -


Game Cube Photo

1. Training creates and builds teams. When everyone comes together for training, individuals realize they are part of something bigger than just the part they play. They are given a glimpse of the big picture and purpose of VBS and the importance of participating not as an individual but as a team.

2. Training empowers workers and turns them into leaders. VBS volunteers rarely see themselves as leaders, yet that is exactly what they are. Training that empowers (gives a volunteer permission and knowledge to lead) helps a volunteer to begin assuming the role and responsibilities of leadership.

3. Training creates evangelistic urgency. Training gives workers the tools and confidence they need to present the Gospel boldly. It produces a challenge to make sure every minute and aspect of VBS is focused on presenting the Gospel.

4. Training produces a sense of assurance. Most VBS volunteers only work with kids once each year. Leader guides may provide the content but it takes training to confidently use it.

5. Training challenges the status quo. While very few people truly enjoy change, a VBS that never changes quickly becomes predictable and boring. Training challenges workers to dream big and do the work of VBS with excellence.

6. Training dots the i’s and crosses the t’s. Everyone needs to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of VBS. Training provides an opportunity to answer all the questions and get everyone on the same page.

 Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

VBS Geek of the Week: Jennifer Watkins



This week’s VBS Geek of the Week is Jennifer Watkins from Unity Baptist Church in Georgia!

  1. What is your role in VBS? This year my role in VBS is the Director, for the past 6 years I taught pre-k and 5 year olds. I love to teach children they are the future of our church and if we do not train them at the time they are young you may not reach them. This is a cruel world we live in I just want to equip them as much as possible with the Love of God and the love of the church.
  2. What was your “geekiest” moment? My geekiest moment would be I love to wear a hat to class and I try to look for one that goes with the theam with VBS. Last year I wore a hat that had springs coming out in all direction and different colors for the collosal Coaster VBS, the kids love it.
  3. You might be a VBS geek if . . .  you really get into the theme and just have fun and act like a kid enjoy what you do.
  4. What makes you keep doing VBS? What makes me keep doing VBS is just the joy and excitement on the children’s faces when they come in and see the decoration, kids coming to you and say I know my bible verse can I tell it too you. Can I help with the pledges I want to hold the bible, I want to hold the flag. The kids are so eager to just come sometimes its hard to get them to go home.
  5.  When we came back from Ridgecrest we had one of the church memebers dress up as Action Pack Jack and they the kids loved it. We started a facebook paige just for our VBS page. This is for our workers and our members can go there and see where we are and what we have done so far and what decoration have been done. This is the first year we have done this and so far we have several people joining.

Using Zip for Kids as a Follow Up to VBS


Do you have an exit strategy for VBS this summer? How will you follow up with the kids and families who come to VBS? How will you intentionally continue the learning throughout the summer so that kids go back to school in the fall changed?

This summer at VBS, we are talking about who Jesus is and why we believe that He is who He said He is. The Lord was so sweet in the way that He lead us to develop Zip for Kids. We didn’t see what He had done until after we finished producing Zip for Kids, but as we looked back on the content, we saw that Zip for Kids is the perfect follow up for VBS!

Zip for Kids emphasizes who God is, and that He is loving, eternal, omnipotent, faithful, and trustworthy. What a perfect way to follow up who Jesus is and what He has done for us! Give kids the bigger picture of how the two lock together, in that God sent Jesus to us because He loved us so much that He wanted to provide a way for us to be made right with Him. We can trust that God forgives our sins through Jesus!

Consider using Zip for Kids to continue the Bible learning with kids in your community after VBS. You can use Zip for Kids as a day camp, your Wednesday or Sunday night programming, your “Wacky Wednesdays,” “Fun Fridays,” or “Terrific Tuesdays,” or a number of other ways. It contains 10 Bible story lessons, 5 from the Old Testament (life of David) and 5 from the New Testament (life of Peter), large group activities, small group plans, videos, music, 85 hours of track times (or activities like drama, art, basketball, or outdoor games), and tons of other options. It is completely customizable, and will be great for those who came to VBS or even for your older kids at VBS to go into neighborhoods and lead alongside adults. Check out the details about Zip for Kids and let us know how you choose to use it! Make sure to sign up for the free preview if you haven’t done that yet. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to do that today.

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!


Random Tip 1414: Don’t Forget to Pray

20140114-075705.jpgThe title is a little misleading since I know you will not forget to pray – especially when that worker calls the night before to tell you she will be unable to teach after all. Talk about a fall-to-your-knees experience!

Seriously, I know you are personally giving prayer top priority, but have you thought about enlisting a prayer team?

In a former life I served at a wonderful church in Houston that had a thriving homebound ministry. We had an abundance of saints who had spent their lives working in VBS and would like nothing better than to keep doing so. However, while their hearts and minds were willing, they were unable to actively participate in church activities.

For years we had utilized the skills of several of our homebound members to assist the craft team with prep work. This was a great way to keep them connected. But to be honest it was not much more than free labor and didn’t allow individuals with physical limitations to contribute.

As a result of a church-wide study of Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God, a conversation started on ways God invites people to join Him in the work He is already doing. The conversation turned to ways homebound Believers could remain active in not only sharing their faith but actively participating in the ministry of the church. Obviously prayer was one of the first ways mentioned.

From that conversation the idea was born to create a VBS Prayer Team. The team was led by Elsie, who although not completely homebound, had limited vision and had to visit a dialysis clinic three times a week. Elsie got busy enlisting her team, telling them they would each be expected to give the same number of hours each day as any other VBS worker.  She let the team know their assignment would require marathon prayer warriors who would commit to pray during the weeks leading up to VBS, and then each day for the entire three hours of VBS.

Each afternoon the VBS Director would call Elsie with an update of the day and a list of specific prayer needs. Elsie would in turn pass the word on to each member of the team.

For me – the guy running around trying to cover all the bases – it was great comfort knowing a dedicated group of people were at that very moment praying. For the workers the VBS Prayer Team was an inspiration. For the Prayer Team their participation was not only meaningful but vital.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

Is Jesus Really Enough?

brown2Is Jesus really enough? Another way to ask it is, “Do I need something more or something else in my life to satisfy me, or is Jesus really enough?” 
That question came to mind recently when I was grumbling and groaning about things at home, things at church, things at work, and just about all the other things in my life.  
Colossians 2:6-10 came to mind as well, especially the part that reads “the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him…” I heard a sermon once about “being complete in Him” and “the fullness of the Godhead living inside us.”
2 Peter 1:3-11 came to mind next, especially this part: “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us…”
When I stopped grumbling about things long enough to realize that Jesus IS enough, the things that were causing all the pain and worry didn’t seem so overwhelming. 
So, “Is Jesus really enough?” It’s a simple yes or no question. He either is or He isn’t. I have no clue where to go if He isn’t.

We Will Sing


cristy3“We will sing, we will shout, tell the news of His salvation.”
(lyrics from VBS 2014 Music Book)

This is exactly what First Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon, TX is doing with their time leading up to this year’s VBS. They’re uncovering the truth of Jesus Christ and preparing to share the evidence with their community! Each year, FBC performs a seamlessly choreographed, beautifully acted, winsome musical to go along with VBS. Laughter and warm hearts are a tradition as a packed house watches rambunctious, fun-loving kids sing about hope in Christ.

FBC is using LifeWay’s VBS 2014 Music Book as a guide for the drama, but with over 75 kids wanting stage-time, they adapted the play to include more speaking roles. They transformed the 7 speaking parts into 35 roles! Furthermore, FBC added 22 special dancers to perform choreographed dances that were not included in the original song choreography. Every child who auditions for a role receives one.

Check out the pictures below to see the glee on many little faces as they prepare to sing the news of His salvation.


Nervous kids read over speaking parts before hopping into line for auditions.


It’s time to audition! Kids wait in line for their turn at the microphone.


Choir members gear up for choreography with their robot moves.


Share with us: What does your church do to bring VBS to life?

Five Reasons we Decorate

maryWhy do we spend time decorating for VBS? It takes a lot of effort and even some money to decorate. So why do we do that? Well, here are 5 reasons to decorate your space for VBS.
1. Decorations get kids excited about the week.
2. Decorations help kids feel that they have been prepared for and that the church is excited that they are there.
3. Decoration can remove distractions by creating one single environment or feel for the room. Decorations also can hide those things that kids might be drawn to like a chalkboard for them to write on or other items for them to play with instead of listening.
4. Decorating helps teachers be fully invested. It makes their classroom their own instead of it feeling like someone else’s Sunday School room.
5. Decorations take church kids out of the norm that they experience at church and beg kids to have a new experience with diving deeper with Jesus.

Even if you decorate with only a poster, help kids feel planned for and excited about VBS. Decorations aren’t the point of VBS. Keep the main point of Jesus the main point. Use decorations to drive excitement and remove distractions for your kids!

Random Tip 1413: Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!

20140114-075705.jpgWith the first day of VBS just around the corner (for some of you the corner is a mere 75 days away) it is time to advertise, advertise, advertise! In other words, it is time to let the community know what you are up to.

In VBS terminology we usually refer to advertising as promotion, so here are six tips to keep in mind as you make plans to promote VBS 2014.

1. Start early. Promotion needs to be planned and put into action at least thee months in advance so for most of us that means NOW!

2. Put someone in charge. Do not leave promotion to chance or assume you personally will have time to put a plan together. Promotion is too important not to have someone responsible for it.

3. Know your target audience. Who are you specifically trying to reach? I know you say everyone, and while true, effective VBS promotion means choosing a target audience and putting all your efforts towards promoting to that audience in a way that grabs their attention.

4. Use a variety of techniques or methods. A banner is great but most people who drive by will never see it. Postcards are awesome but become one of many pieces of mail a family receives each week. Posters in store windows are fantastic providing everyone who walks by is not distracted by something else at the time. Effective VBS promotion requires all of these methods and more. No one method is so good it can stand on its own.

5. Be creative. The purpose of promotion is to attract and hold attention which means your information has to be presented in a way that is more creative than the next guy – and I’m not just talking about the Bible school at the next church down the street. Your VBS message is competing with every other message in town whether it be the little league car wash or the daily special at McDonald’s.

6. Make quality a priority. First impressions do make a difference and your promotion will be a powerful reflection of the quality of your event.


Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

VBS Geek of the Week Cande Ackler

vbsgeekoftheweek2This week’s VBS Geek of the Week is Cande Ackler. She was nominated by her good friend, Eunice Pond! She is from First Baptist Church of Orangevale in Orangevale, California.

  1. What is your role in VBS?
  • California State Team, Children’s Consultant
  • Associational Team Clinic Leader
  • VBS Director for First Baptist Church of Orangevale for 13 of the past 14 years.
  1. What was your “geekiest” moment? It could have been riding my stick horse across the stage during Sunday Morning services while wearing cowboy boots and a Saddle Ridge Ranch hat; or even trying to keep up with Jeff Slaughter dancing through the Tumbleweed Song!
  2. What has been your favorite VBS theme? So hard to choose!  Probably Outrigger Island . . . O-I-O-I, O-I-O-I, Oh I love God’s Unshakeable Truth!
  3. You might be a VBS geek if . . . You have more than ten year’s collection of VBS Leader shirts, hats, pencils, and are still wondering why LifeWay no longer has scrapbook papers for all of the VBS themes. You find yourself working on a VBS Float in your back yard for the community parade year after year!
  4. What makes you keep doing VBS? VBS is a blessing that keeps on giving.  The children who were saved during VBS, or have attended all the years until they were old enough to be helpers, then teachers, bless my heart every year.  I have seen brand new teachers who were so nervous about teaching become master teachers and VBS Clinic leaders.  Occasionally I decide that at my age it’s time to “retire” from VBS . . . then I think . . . No way, I’m here to stay!

Colossal Coaster World float

Game Day Central

Outrigger Island

Saddleback Ranch float