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








Freebie Friday

Who’s ready for a giveaway??? Last week we asked you to tell us the special skills your watch would have if you were a real special agent. Your answers did not disappoint! From seeing through walls to teleporting (to get all that VBS Director work done!) to a Scripture app to a Needometer that would allow a director to know what people need, there were a ton of fun answers! Our randomly selected winner said she would record clues with her special agent watch!

This week is another great giveaway… how would you like your very own VBS 2014 Inflatable Camera?!? (Cute kid not included.)


All you need to do to enter is log in below and submit your answer to this week’s question: “What do you do with pictures taken during VBS?” Do you create any kind of keepsake for kids? Class pictures? Scrapbooks? We want to hear your great ideas!

A winner will be chosen at random from all of the submissions. You have until Thursday at 24:00 hours to enter. Good luck, agents!

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Share Your VBS Secrets!


It’s no secret that we love VBS. One of our favorite parts is seeing how you take the theme each year and make it uniquely your own.  There is so much creativity in the VBS community!

Personally, some of my best ideas are inspired by others’ work.  Sometimes I just need to see someone else’s project before I think, “Hey, I can do that!”  So, to open the lines of communication we’ve created a few places where you can share your VBS secrets and creations, and pick up a few new ideas.

First, when looking for inspiration, who doesn’t love Pinterest?  Be sure to check out our Agency D3 Pinterest page for fun decorating and craft ideas.

Next, is an application called Idea Share.  You’ll see the link to it at the top of the VBS Facebook page.  This is a place where you can upload your own photos and share the projects you’ve been working on.  There is also an option in Idea Share to open a discussion related to an image.

Lastly, the VBS Facebook page is a great place share tips or ask questions.  You can post your tips directly to our wall and start a conversation with other VBS directors and leaders. If you have a question, post it there too and we’ll answer as quickly as possible.

VBS is better when we work together, don’t you think? Me too.  Now, let’s share those secrets!

Three Steps to Finding Your Serving Niche

So you keep hearing about your church’s VBS and how much fun it is and how many kids it’s touched, and you’ve been feeling God tugging on your heart to serve.

Now what?

When I got started with VBS, I had very little experience and I was a nervous wreck!

If you’re there, or know someone who’s there, don’t worry! You’ve got the calling, and that’s the most important part.

But how do you figure out where to serve?

1. Think about your skills. What do you do well? Get compliments on?

2. What ignites your passion, makes you feel alive and excited?

3. What are your church’s needs? You can ask your pastor or your VBS director about this one. They’ll probably have some quick answers for you!

Maybe you’re not especially comfortable with kids or being the center of attention, but you have a gift in the kitchen. Take a look at the snacks area of VBS. Maybe you prefer the background and are good with a hammer. Set design and decorating may be for you. Maybe your gifts are towards explaining how to do things and put things together. Crafts has some great potential. Or maybe you’re a gifted teacher and lead kids well. Don’t be afraid to step into a Bible study leader role!

In the past I’ve seen God bring these three aspects of calling together many times and I pray He does that for you as well. Most of all, ask Him where He would have you serve this summer and then do not hesitate to go there straight away!

If you are a Director, please feel free to share this blog with potential volunteer recruits as they try to decide where might be the best fit for them.

How have you seen God guide you into His will using your gifts and passions? Please share with us in the comments!

Random Tip 1412: Make Relationships a Priority

20140114-075705.jpgA few weeks ago I shared that years ago Vacation Bible Schools were conducted for four weeks, then shortened to two, then one, and now we are beginning to hear of more churches scheduling three day schools.  In the previous post I wrote that as we shorten the number of days and hours it becomes even more important to connect everything – including snacks – to the daily Scripture and Biblical theme. As we decrease time we must increase the intentionality of everything we do from promotion to continuing the connections after VBS. This goes for being intentional about relationships as well.

One of the reasons VBS has continued to result in a high number of professions of faith is the concentrated time spent over multiple days getting to know the kids and the kids getting to know the leaders. As relationships grow so does the trust factor that allows kids to embrace the Gospel.

This is why we traditionally reserve the Gospel presentation and opportunity for response to the third or fourth sessions.  Although we may clearly present the Gospel during the first session (as we do in the Agency D3 resources) we typically wait until relationships have been established before presenting the opportunity to respond. We want to give time for the trust factor – both in the Gospel message and with the leaders presenting it – to develop.

As we decrease the days of VBS we also decrease the opportunity for relationships to grow. When you add this to a rotation process that often places kids with a different leader ever 30 minutes relationships become even more difficult. There is already some (inconclusive) evidence that Bible schools of three days or less result in fewer professions of faith then schools of five days or more.

So how do we meet this challenge? By making relationships a priority! From the moment families arrive at the registration table until they are back in their cars for the ride home we must concentrate on getting beyond the basic acknowledgement of their existence to truly establishing a relationship. Actually we must make relationships a priority far beyond the VBS experience but that is a topic for another blog.

This means the registration lady’s job is to do more then get ink on paper and fill in every blank. Her first priority is to try (as best as time allows) to get the know both the kids and their parents. The snack team has to do more than pour lemonade and pass out cookies. They must also interact with the kids and try to get to know them.

This also means your church may need to enlist more volunteers with the primary assignment of getting to know the kids and their parents. The fewer days you conduct Bible school the lower the kids to worker ratio needs to be. This may mean creating smaller classes or it may mean enlisting more adults to travel with kids to each rotation and actually interacting with them during the rotation.

If VBS is the biggest evangelistic outreach of your church year you can’t afford to sabotage the possibilities by decreasing the opportunities to build and grow relationships.

VBS Geek of the Week Tiffany


This week’s VBS Geek of the Week is Tiffany from Raymond Baptist Church in Illinois! I love hearing from all of you VBS Geeks!

  1. What is your role in VBS? My role in VBS is that of VBX teacher!!!
  2. What was your “geekiest” moment? This is my geekiest moment was being so excited about a child receiving Christ that I jumped in the air and clicked my heels and shouted!! But it was also one of my favorite moments:).
  3. What has been your favorite VBS theme? Amazing wonders
  4. You might be a VBS geek if . . . you buy two I love VBS bags even though one is enough (I will find a use for it).
  5. What makes you keep doing VBS? I continue to do VBS because I love the kids and I know the difference it made in my own life:) I just want to spread the word and this is one of the best most fun ways!!!

Friday Giveaway!

It’s time for another giveaway! This is getting to be my favorite part of the week!

We had over 200 entries for last week’s giveaway. The winner said her favorite VBS Snacks were all things Colossal Coaster World! Kids love them as well as adults:-). Collosal cookies yummy! Coaster Cars and tracks were cute too!

This week, I’m super excited to give away our Special Agent Watch.

005610229Special features of this watch include a pop up screen, a working laser for pointing to items in Bible Study Evidence Vault (or driving your cat crazy!) and a working time mechanism. Batteries are also included. So enter below and join the fun! This giveaway will be open until Thursday, March 13.



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The 3 D’s of Preteens

abbyWhile snow and ice continue to linger around my home in Tennessee, it’s hard to believe summer is around the corner. While the weather doesn’t give me glimpse of warmer temperatures, the fact remains that my church is less than 100 days away from VBS.

As I traveled around teaching several preteen VBS conferences this winter, I kept getting a question from a few people, “Why is it called VBX? I’m just teaching 5th and 6th graders. Isn’t it VBS?” What is available in the VBX 2014 Leader Guide is a huge amount of material including preteen Bible study, craft, and recreation ideas. The preteen leader guide provides the opportunity for your preteens to have a Vacation Bible EXperience. If your church chooses to do so, you can keep preteens on their own schedule. Leaders for preteens are provided with a lot of material. Be sure you as a leader consult with your VBS director to know what is expected of you.

For those who have the privilege and honor to teach preteens this year, here are a few tips to help you be prepared for your mission, no matter the amount of time you have with your preteens.

Discover who your preteens are physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. They don’t think like you do, no matter your age! Preteens are competitive, worried about rejection, critical of themselves, and don’t usually enjoy attempting tasks that are too difficult for them. Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact preteens are developing a value system based on their own understanding of biblical principles. Guess who needs to help impact how preteens develop those value systems? Check out page 5 in the VBX 2014 Preteen Bible Study Leader Guide for some specific characteristics.

Decide how you will teach preteens. Recognize different approaches should be used. No one learns exactly the same way as another person does. Preteens are going through a lot of emotions. Different activities will appeal to different preteens. Be sure to provide opportunities for all the approaches to learning to be used.  If you just teach preteens in the same way you learn, you aren’t going to reach them as effectively as you could be. The more approaches to learning in the activities you choose to do, the better chance you will have preteens engaged in the learning process. Approaches include logical, verbal, visual, musical, natural, physical, relational, and reflective.  You can check out Melita Thomas’s video for more information about approaches to learning.

Defend the Truth. This year, preteens will spend some time each day revealing more information about the Gospel. Three steps will be used each day, which are found on the CD and in the VBS 2014 Preteen Leader Pack. The three pieces of information can be uncovered by three individuals or assigned to three small groups. The tasks are reproducible.

  1. One task will involve unscrambling a phrase using letters provided to preteens.
  2. Another task will use Bible skills to reveal a book of the Bible.
  3. The third task will involve completing math equations to reveal the chapter and verse .

Preteens will spend time discussing the information revealed each day. For example, on the first day, preteens will decipher the phrase God Rules and the verse Colossians 2:8-9. On the fourth day of VBX, the information will be reviewed from each day, and preteens will fill out a response card that gathers information about each preteen’s beliefs. The response cards will help leaders know which preteens might have questions about becoming a Christian. Because this time is crucial to preteens’ forming of values of their own, please be familiar with presenting the gospel. You never know when a preteen may have a question, and you might not have your Bible or leader guide handy. Begin praying right now for God to provide opportunities to present the Truth during Agency D3.

Discover who Preteens are. Decide how to teach them. Defend and know the Truth. If you begin to prepare to teach by following these three steps, and spend time in prayer, God will honor your desire to preteens to know Him more.


Abbey Land is our guest blogger. She is active in children’s ministry, teaches 5th grade Sunday School, edits Bible Express devotional, and leads conferences. She and her husband have four boys.