From the Archives: Checklist for Conducting a Mission VBS

20140114-075705.jpgMillions of kids and families would never hear the Gospel proclaimed if it were not for dedicated VBS workers who take the Great Commission to heart and go beyond the comfort zone of their own churches and communities to conduct VBS.

The founder of LifeWay’s VBS in 1924, Dr. Homer Grice, and his wife Ethel, were true VBS Missionaries. They travelled extensively from Nashville to the mountain region of east Tennessee and West Virginia to conduct VBS. They so believed in the impact of mission VBS they left a portion of their estate in a trust fund to provide VBS resources to churches conducting VBS in impoverished communities.

Today Dr. Grice’ legacy lives on in a wonderful resource called Backyard Kids Club that is perfect for taking VBS on the road and on mission. The following checklist was created for a 2006 to assist churches taking VBS on mission.

1. Survey and evaluate needs.

2. Determine which needs you and your group can potentially meet.

3. Design a project proposal.

4. Secure the support of your pastor and church.

5. Conduct a pre-project visit.

6. Work with host church/individuals to:

  • Determine dates, times and locations
  • Determine rules/regulations for facility use
  • Determine who will be responsible for promoting the event
  • Determine who will provide follow up (continued connections) and assimilation support
  • Determine who will provide resources/supplies/teaching materials
  • Determine who will secure permission and permits

7. Plan and schedule the project.

8. Enlist and train the team.

9. Double-check details.

10. Conduct the project.

11. Leave facilities in better condition than they were found.

12. Make follow-up (continued connections) actions.

 

Celebrating 90: LifeWay Christian Resources begin publishing VBS resources in 1925 under the leadership of Drs. Marion Frost and Homer Grice.

It’s Not Too Late to Plan a Backyard Kids Club

20140114-075705.jpgWhile it may be a little late to begin planning a full-fledge Vacation Bible School, it is definitely not too late to plan for one or more Backyard Kids Clubs (BKC).

In case you haven’t heard, Backyard Kids Clubs (also known as Backyard Bible Clubs) are an excellent way to expand the reach of your church and your VBS far beyond the neighborhoods directly surrounding the church campus.

Like VBS, BKCs are by nature evangelistic and create an excellent opportunity to connect families to the Gospel and to the church. But unlike Bible Schools that are designed for a large number of kids divided into age groupings (closely graded), BKCs are designed for 20 or fewer kids who typically met in one or two groups of multiple ages (broadly graded).

Because BKCs require fewer workers, resources and space, and are uniquely created to reach the families of a specific street or multi-housing community, they can be planned and promoted quickly. BKCs are a perfect add-on to your summer. In fact, many churches planning BKCs will also conduct a traditional VBS and use BKCs as a way to reach kids in sections of the community who can not easily travel to the church campus. (A congregation in Clarksville, Tennessee is planning one week of traditional VBS followed by 10 BKCs throughout the city.)

Not yet convinced that BKC is right for your church? Here are six ways to take VBS beyond the church walls and into the neighborhoods of your community.

1. Work with the managers of multi-housing communities (apartment complexes and mobile home parks) to conduct BKCs specifically for the kids of each community. Since BKCs can be conducted with as few as three or four workers, a congregation with 100 workers could potentially conduct as many as 25 BKCs simultaneously.

2. Challenge each adult small group or Sunday School class to conduct at least one BKC in the neighborhood of a group member. (A congregation in Dallas, Texas makes conducting a BKC an annual requirement of every home group.)

3. Enlist and train a group of older high school and collage students to serve as a summer mission team to conduct BKCs throughout the community. (A congregation in Kentucky has trained a student team and is making the team available to help area churches with VBS and BKC.)

4. Partner with area churches to conduct BKCs in city parks and recreation centers.

5. Partner with smaller-membership churches to provide workers for BKCs on their church campuses or in the surrounding neighborhoods.

6. Plan BKCs for Fall, Winter and Spring breaks. Several school districts I’m aware of now schedule two-week breaks. While families might not be looking for activities as structured as VBS, the informal atmosphere of BKC provides a perfect opportunity to gather neighborhood kids for recreation and Bible study.

LifeWay produces a fantastic resource designed for Backyard Kids Clubs that is part of the VBS 2014 Agency D3 resources.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist as well as VBS Director at Creekside Fellowship, a church plant in Castalian Springs, Tennessee, where LifeWay’s Backyard Kids Club resources are being used for the second year.

What a Little Editing Can Teach You

bethanyLast week as I finished up on 2014 work for my personal favorite in our VBS family, Backyard Kids Club®, I had the fun of sorting through the snow that was coating my office in the form of all the paper versions of Backyard Kids Club pieces.

Here were the edits of the Host Folder after it had art placed on it.

There was the very first version I printed out of the Directors Guide back when I was first trying to get my head around what it should look like next year.

When I got done sorting through all the papers and got them all in one place...this is what the stack now looks like.

When I got done sorting through all the papers and got them all in one place…this is what the stack now looks like.

You might think I’m kind of silly but I actually got nostalgic. There were layers and layers of edits, and I remembered something about where I was, both personally and spiritually, when those versions of each product were still in play.

I’ve come a long way.

God has taught me a lot, broken me a lot, healed me a lot in the months since I started editing Backyard Kids Club.

And BKC has come a long way from a shell of “this is how we did it last year,” to a shiny, smooth, “this is how we’re doing it next year,” and “this is what we need to remember for 2015.”

God is over this process, friends. He takes each of us on the VBS team through personal struggles that grow us personally and professionally, and He gives us eyes to continue reading, studying, and improving curriculum to His glory.

And He is with you today, in your joys, in your heartaches, in your failures, in your successes. He sees ahead to where you’ll be when it comes time to sit down and teach VBS 2014, and He knows the plans He has to use you for His glory, now, then, and long after that.

I was encouraged remembering that this week. I hope you are too.

VBS by the Numbers

wooley1 2013It has taken a little longer than usual, but we finally have numbers from VBS 2012. Yep, you read it correctly – 2012.

We always run a year behind in the numbers department to allow time for every church to submit there VBS data. For 2012 a total of 28,187 churches and missions reported hosting either a traditional VBS, and Backyard Kids Club, a mission VBS, or a combination of all three. This is a tremendous increase of 3,246 more Bible schools than 2011, and the largest number of schools since 2004!

A grand total of 2,759,014 kids, students, adults and workers enrolled and there were 79,588 professions of faith! These are numbers to celebrate!

There were also 2,411 people who publicly announced their intention to respond to God’s call for vocational ministry. This is an increase over 2011 of 130 people. VBS is – or at least should be – extremely evangelistic, but the missions rotation component has been used in a mighty way to connect people of all ages with ways they can personally be on mission in their communities and abroad. Since 2004 alone, 19,349 individuals have committed themselves to full-time ministry as a result of VBS. Today many of these individuals are involved in VBS and other ministries around the world.

However, a deeper look shows that both enrollment and professions of faith are slightly lower than 2011 even though an additional 3,246 schools were conducted. The average enrollment of 113 per school dropped to 97 per school. This is not necessarily a bad thing since the reports reflect an increase in the number of churches conducting Backyard Kids Clubs, which by their nature would have smaller attendance.

A surprising shift to a trend that has been increasing for over a decade was the number of churches that returned to morning Bible schools.  Sixty percent of churches reported an evening school, but this is down from the 67 percent reported for 2011. Based on a upward trend I had predicted that 70 percent of 2012 Bible schools would have been conducted in the evening. It is going to be interesting to see what happens to this number for 2013.

Thank you for taking the time to submit a Church VBS Report form. Each year we mail out 48,000 forms plus provide one in the Administrative Guide for Directors. Like an annual physical, this data diagnoses the health of VBS as well as helps us at LifeWay prepare resources that corresponds with changing trends. VBS continues to be the largest evangelistic outreach collectively conducted by churches. We can definitely say Yes! to VBS!

The Best Time to Pray for VBS

Katie DeCilloMany of you have finished up VBS already– the first week of June is THE busiest week for VBS! Some of you are in the midst of VBS, and some of you are still planning.  The best time to pray for VBS?  Always!

While we love the fun of decorating for VBS and preparing crafts and snacks for the kiddos, our most favorite thing about VBS is that it is an amazing opportunity to share Christ with kids and their families.

So whether you’ve finished VBS, are in the middle of one, or are still planning, don’t forget to stop and pray.

If you’ve finished VBS:

  • pray for the seeds that were planted– that God would continue His work in the lives of those children
  • pray for the kids who accepted Christ and their families– that God would help parents disciple those children at home as they continue to strengthen their relationship with Christ
  • pray for the VBS director and volunteers, that they would receive an extra dose of rest and refreshment to continue ministry through the summer
  • pray for VBS follow-up– that you’ll be able to connect with unchurched families in the coming weeks and months to form an ongoing relationship
  • pray for other churches who have not yet had their VBS– that they make much of Jesus in the coming weeks

If you’re in the middle of VBS:

  • pray for the children who have been attending– that their hearts would be softened to the message of Jesus
  • pray that other children and families nearby would learn about your VBS and be able to attend and hear the good news of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
  • pray for your VBS director– that he or she would have extra rest, energy, and strength to get through the week
  • pray for the volunteers– that they would experience the hand of God this week and would have wisdom in leading kids to Christ

If you are still planning your VBS:

  • pray that many children and families would learn about your VBS so they can hear the good news about Christ
  • pray for the VBS director– that he or she would have all the help necessary to get VBS off the ground in the coming weeks
  • pray for the volunteers at your church– that they would experience God while preparing lessons, music, snacks, decorations, etc. and that they would have wisdom in leading kids to Christ

If your church isn’t doing VBS:

  • pray for outreach opportunities
  • pray for wisdom in discipling children and families within the community
  • pray for churches in your area who are hosting VBS or other outreach events

I scream, you scream, we all scream for VBS??

katie2aIf you’ve been around kids for any amount of time, you know they can be LOUD!  What’s more fun than to be a little loud during VBS?

This year, make sure you don’t miss these super fun Screamer Balloons.  They’re long balloons that make a crazy “screaming” noise when you let the air out!

Check out this funny video of some of our LifeWay Kids team trying them out for the first time.

Catching a New Vision: VBS 2013

photoHappy Thursday, VBS friends!

I love Thursdays, don’t you?  If you’re anything like me, (busy!) you’re looking forward to the weekend and a couple of days of rest, but you’re thankful to still have two more days in the week to get everything on the “to-do” list done!

How’s your planning coming along so far?  What are you working on right now?

I’ve got a couple projects on my plate right now (including a brand new social media feature for sharing ideas you guys are gonna LOVE!) that I’m really excited about seeing come to fruition.

Speaking of seeing… do like my new specs?

Even though these Fun Glasses don’t have special lenses, I think wearing them is helping me catch a new vision for the work ahead. Maybe you could use a pair to help your team catch the vision for VBS 2013?

And of course, if YOU have them, your kiddos are going to need a pair for themselves, too!

 

Peeking Through the Fence at Backyard Kids Club

841320_10151460870504948_144206793_oIt’s been a busy January traveling all over the country to our exciting VBS Previews. One new element of VBS is getting great buzz– Backyard Kids Club! Jennie Ross has been doing a fabulous job sharing about the new curriculum and about her personal experiences with a VBS in her own “backyard!” (“Well, actually side and front yard,” she explains with a winning smile.)

Jennie began her Enrichment Session with the basic definition–Backyard Kids Club has the same great Gospel message and fun learning environment as a traditional VBS. It is just off your church campus and in a location that reaches people who would not normally come to your church campus.

Jennie’s conference included the basics of team structure, schedules, and resources. I asked Jennie to share what people thought about the new resource. Here’s some of what she told me:

005532691Many people were really excited about:

  • Having a new “tool” to reach out to their communities without having to take their people through another training – since this matches what they are already doing in their VBS.
  • That it was broadly graded and already prepared to be used in an outdoor setting.
  • That it was simplified and portable (no big teacher packet and pages of things to cut out).

Jennie also mentioned that just like VBS in a church setting, BKC does not reach its full potential unless a follow-up plan is in place.

Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Make sure the child makes friends with one of the “regular” church kids so when they come back, they already have a friend at church.
  • Deliver a hand-written note from someone on the team. She encouraged the local “host” to deliver the notes even if another team member wrote them. Jennie emphasized that mailing was ok, but the personal touch of face-to-face delivery had a greater impact.
  • Keep back a craft to deliver the following week as a home visit (such as the ticket frame).
  • Take church information with you when you make the follow-up visit.
  • Send a follow-up letter or email from the church thanking them for attending and inviting them to other church functions or events.

Are you thinking about using Backyard Kids Club in your community or on a mission trip? Let us here from you! We’d love to share your experiences here on the blog!

Over the River…

img_5318Over the river (Little Pigeon River) and through the woods (Mt. Pisgah National Forrest) to VBS 2013 Events we go! It is going to be a COLOSSAL week!

This is the week we (LifeWay’s VBS Events Team) look forward to all year – the first in a series of awesome fun events – where VBS groupies from all 50 States, Canada, and Mexico (and sometimes even a groupie or two from Great Britain or Korea) join together for two days of exciting VBS sights and sounds!

Over 1200 VBS leaders will be our guests at Ridgecrest Conference Center later this week for worship with Dr. Shane Garrison and Austin Adamic, teaching by some of the best VBS practitioners in the country, inspiration and creativity of LifeWay’s VBS Graphics and Publishing Team, and a performance of the Colossal Coaster World Musical by a great children’s choir. AND if all this is not enough, how about 60 degree weather (we typically have ice) in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

If you are not registered for the Ridgecrest event, there is still time to join us January 18-19 in Fort Worth, January 31-February 1 in Nashville, or February 8-9 in Kissimmee. Like I said before, these events are going to be COLOSSAL so don’t miss out.

To learn how you can be part of a one of these awesome Preview events go to lifeway.com/vbs/events.

We’ll be looking for YOU!

Four Weeks and Counting…

Hopefully it is looking a lot like – and sounding a lot like – Christmas where you are today. It certainly is here in the VBS office! But it is also looking and sounding a lot like four weeks until the first national VBS Preview at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

We are in perpetual motion putting the finishing touches on a not-to-be-missed event! We have now hit capacity at Ridgecrest and the Nashville Friday/Saturday events, but there is still room at Fort Worth, Nashville Thursday/Friday, and Kissimmee.

A complete list of breakout sessions is now available at lifeway.com/vbs/events. Check it out today!

In addition to the basics for Colossal Coaster World and Club VBS: Jungle Jaunt, you will have the opportunity to explore decorating options with Mark Jones and the VBS Design Team, be introduced to LifeWay’s newest VBS resource Backyard Kids Club, be challenged by the preaching of Dr. Shane Garrison, and participate in worship with the Austin Adamec Band.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon for the Colossal Coaster World Experience!