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!

 

Agency D3 for Preschoolers & Kindergartners

thomasFoundational Bible teaching is always the goal with LifeWay’s preschool VBS, and this year is no exception. Agency D3’s Bible content sets up a firm foundation for preschoolers and kindergartners to build upon for the rest of their lives. As you teach them who Jesus is and what He did, kids will learn the basics about why we want to love and follow Jesus.

Every single day of VBS, kids will discover that Jesus is who He says He is (God’s Son) through an example from His life. Day 1 uses the story of Jesus’ baptism to show kids that God, in dramatic fashion, declared audibly to everyone present that Jesus is His Son. John told people the same thing everywhere He went for the rest of his life! On Day 2 kids will discover that Jesus is unlike anyone else who ever lived. He is God’s Son so He can do things no one else can do! On Days 3-4 preschoolers will hear how much Jesus loves people as they hear about His death & resurrection. (Younger Preschoolers will use the Bible stories of Jesus’ last supper with His helpers and His post-resurrection meeting with two men on the road to Emmaus.) On Day 5 kids will learn that they can tell others the things they know about Jesus, just like Peter did in the Bible.

In other words, the entire week for preschoolers answers one singular question: Who Is Jesus? This is the perfect Bible content for preschoolers coming to VBS who may have never even heard of God, much less of His Son. It’s all about Jesus… and that’s a great reason to be excited about Agency D3!

Agency D3 Kids Starter Kits

Wouldn’t it be great to have everything you need to get started with VBS in one box? We think so, too! That’s why we created the Kids Starter Kits & Preschool Starter Kits for Agency D3. Take a look at this video where Melita unpacks the Kids Starter Kit.

Now that makes things easier, right? Pick up a Kids Starter Kit today at your local LifeWay Christian Store or order it online.

Be sure to check back next week when we unpack the Preschool Starter Kit.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas…

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On the ninth day of Christmas ——– I turn into a child.

It’s around this time each year that I get incredibly excited over putting the ornaments on the tree, being with family, reading the Christmas story, going to the Christmas Eve service, and driving around to look at lights. I even like the fruitcake cookies that seem to show up at every Christmas church potluck. I especially love opening up my ornament from my mom for this Christmas and placing it on the tree.

(Sidenote: Parents – my mom started an ornament series when I was born and gives me one each year. It was such a cool piece of my childhood to now put on my tree at my house! Do this for your kids. Start a series or choose an ornament that signifies something about them for that year and write the year on it! It’s never too late to begin.)

Most of all, I love blaming my excitement over Christmas for what has become one of my favorite traditions: helping the wise men move east. I would guess that my mom probably doesn’t love this tradition as much as I do, since it means that the wise men from her beloved nativity scene end up all over the house – in drawers, on counters, in closets, on the top ledge of the shower, on the floor marching through the dining room.

Guys, it took the wise men a LOOONNNG time to get to Jesus. Most scholars think He was a few months old when the wise men came to Him. It is only fitting that they make a LOOONNG journey throughout the house toward Jesus. Every morning I move them and wait for others to find them. It’s almost like Elf on a Shelf, but way better because you don’t have to clean up the mess that you made while the kids were sleeping and it gives you another opportunity to talk about Jesus! As the wise men travel through your house, remind kids that the wise men traveled hundreds of miles to see Jesus because they knew that He was God’s Son and that He had come to save the world. The wise men may not have made it to the manger, but they still traveled a long way to Jesus’ house to worship Him!

What is your favorite tradition that your family does during the Christmas season?

On the Eighth Day of Christmas …

VanCleave - new (1)On the eighth day of Christmas I’m thinking about traditions. Well, at least what have become traditions when Christmas is different every year.

My husband is a pastor and our traditions have had to be very flexible so we could work around church events. As our kids were growing up, Christmas time also meant an eight to ten hour trip back to Tennessee to visit grandparents. We tried to “choose” our Christmas day rather than letting the calendar demand that it was December 25. Sometimes Christmas and church times were too close to make the Tennessee trip until after Christmas. That was when our son and daughter began their own tradition of staying up all night to watch the 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story.” They tell very different stories about who would finally fall asleep first. But for two very different siblings who were almost five years apart, it is still a memory that bonds them.

One tradition we began was called “The Feast.” My son describes it as a meal where, “we eat things we wouldn’t ordinarily eat at a meal.” Even that makes me laugh. It’s basically “name your very favorite things” and, no matter what it is, we’ll put it in the feast. Combined with laughter, family time, and a Christmas movie, it is something we still do even though they are both grown with homes of their own.

And then we have “The Snowman.” It began as a joke between my husband and me. He used to grumble about “plastic things to set out in the yard during Christmas.” I started picking up every $1 giant plastic thing I could find at yard sales. “The Snowman” was the first. We had quite a collection after about 15 years. When we moved back to Tennessee, it was hard to give up “the collection,” but “The Snowman” was part of the family! Even years when sad things have happened at Christmas, including the year we didn’t even manage to get a tree up, “The Snowman” glowed near our front door.

I came home late a couple of weeks ago and there was Mr. Snowman glowing in the front yard. I started to grin. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Snowman

Why We Need to Train Our Kids to Defend Their Faith: A Dad’s Perspective

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We are excited to have Dr. Micah Carter join our blog today to tell us why he believes teaching kids to defend their faith is important. Micah is teaching pastor at Redemption City Church in Franklin, TN, and also serves as the HCSB Translation Spokesman for B&H Publishing Group. 

I have the joy of being the dad of two sons, a ten year old and a seven year old. Among the many things I’m passing along to them is a love for Ole Miss football (which is often a heart-breaking reality!).

A couple years ago my oldest son was ashamed to cheer for Ole Miss because they weren’t very good and lost more games than they won. When his peers would say something negative, he’d be quick to shove Ole Miss into the shadows and act like he wasn’t a fan at all.

My concern as a dad is that when pressure or questions or criticisms about why my son is a believer in Jesus arise, he’d be tempted to shove Him to the shadows as well – especially because he might not be confident about how to defend his faith or articulate a sound response.

Of course, the stakes are much greater for a child’s defense of his or her faith than rooting for a sports team. For this reason, it’s vitally important that we work hard to train our kids to defend their faith. Let me offer two major reasons why:

First, let’s train our kids to defend their faith because the gospel is for all. It’s likely that some children need to overcome certain barriers in order to follow Jesus. It could be that if our believing children demonstrate, and defend, their faith in Jesus with confidence, other children might be in a better position to trust Jesus for themselves, too, once those barriers are removed.

Peer pressure can work both ways, so maybe helping our kids dispel some of the negativity toward Christianity or following Jesus might actually lead to evangelistic opportunities among those with questions, doubts, or objections. Since the gospel is for all, including children, let’s train up our kids to be confident, compassionate ambassadors of God’s Son and His gospel.

Second, let’s train our kids to defend their faith because truth matters. Our kids are consistently given contrasting worldviews to weigh and evaluate, whether directly or indirectly. Through media, friends, church, and family, our kids are receiving a mixture of secular and religious claims about human identity/dignity, the existence of God, the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus alone, the nature and value of the Bible as God’s Word, and more.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Are we equipping our kids well enough to understand and to present a coherent, consistent Christian worldview based on the truths we find in God’s Word? There’s no doubt that challenges will come, so let’s train up our kids in the truth, so that they have the tools and weapons needed for a confident, effective defense of their faith.

When Ole Miss got a new coach, recruited well, started winning some big games, no amount of criticism from his peers mattered to my son. He was now in a position to defend why he cheers for Ole Miss. I want to foster a similar confidence (but a stronger confidence) for my son to be in a position to defend why he loves Jesus and follows Him, because the gospel is for all and truth matters.

 

Agency D3 Worship Rally Live Stream

Friends, we have some exciting news.  You can be among the first to preview the all-new Agency D3 Worship Rally videos!  On Tuesday, November 12 at 1:00PM CST, we will live stream all of the videos for the 2014 Worship Rally.  Be sure to save the date, bookmark this page, and share your thoughts with us on Twitter using hashtag #AgencyD3 while you watch!

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Unpacking the Jump Start Kit!

The Agency D3 Jump Start Kit is now shipping! Want to know what all the fuss is about? You came to the right place. Today, we’re going to unpack the kit to show you everything that is included and why it is a must-have for VBS directors.

You’ll remember from this post that Starter Kits have now replaced samplers. The Jump Start Kit is designed to give VBS directors a jump start in planning, promoting, choosing dates, and enlisting volunteers.

The Agency D3 Jump Start Kit includes an Administrative Guide for Directors, a copy of Decorating Made Easy, Music for Kids CD, a sample of the Kids Evidence Kit for Grades 1-6, Special Agent Carabiner, Special Agent Rearview Sunglasses, Catalog, Jump Start Poster, Promotional DVD, a master of the new Takin’ It Home CD, and an exclusive Director’s Badge, all packaged in an official Agency D3 metal attache case.

JS2 copy

Let’s take a look at each piece:

  • Administrative Guide for Directors- This guide contains everything a VBS director needs to plan, conduct, evaluate, and follow up on VBS. You’ll find schedules, organizational charts, reproducible items, PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and more!
  •  Decorating Made Easy – This guide gives step-by-step instructions for creating both large and small scale decorations and it includes a CD full of colorful clip art.
  • Music for Kids CD – Be one of the first to hear the Agency D3 music for kids!
  • Kids Evidence Kit – The number one item each kid needs! It includes everything kids need to collect and examine the evidence presented in Bible Study: an Evidence Log, D3 Decoder, five Daily Evidence Cards, one Special Agent ID card, one invisible ink pen.
  • Special Agent Carabiner and Special Agent Rearview Sunglasses- Here are two fun accessories that kids of all ages will want! The Special Agent Carabiner is a clip, flashlight and pen in one. The Special Agent Rearview Glasses have a mirror on the edge of the lens that allows agents to catch action from all angles!
  • Jump Start Poster – Help promote your VBS with the double-sided Agency D3 poster.
  • Promotional DVD – This Agency D3 Promotional CD is filled with promotional clips to use for teacher training, promoting VBS, and recruiting leaders.
  • Takin’ It Home CD – The all-new Takin’ it Home CD. Each day when kids leave your VBS, place the CD in their hands with instructions to play it in the car. It helps kids follow-up on what they just learned and helps engage families in spiritual conversations. The CD included in your Jump Start Kit can be reproduced as many times as you need! It can also be customized to be specific to your church.
  • Director’s Badge – Your very own Agency D3 Director’s Badge!

So there you have the Agency D3 Jump Start Kit! You can pick one up at any LifeWay Store or order here today!