VBS Turned Their Church Around

One of the most rewarding aspects of providing resources for churches is hearing stories. God continues to bless through the ministry of VBS. A good friend sent in the following story written by Kiely Young of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Enjoy and dream big! VBS does turn churches (and communities) around!

Pastor Bob Hill has been at Roundaway Baptist Church “out from” Indianola, Mississippi about three years. He came out of retirement to be the Interim Pastor of this church. The Pastor Search Committee stopped looking and just asked Bro. Bob to stay a while. He has.

He looked at the church calendar and noticed they did not have Vacation Bible School on the summer calendar. When he asked why, the response was, “We don’t have any children, so we don’t need to have VBS.” They had not had VBS in twenty-three years. Bro. Bob reminded them there were still strong elementary schools in the area and they were full, so there must be children in the area. He asked them to consider VBS again. They reluctantly agreed.

Bro. Bob enlisted two people, a VBS Director and a VBS Prayer Leader. He wanted to meet with them and ask God what to do. The church averaged about 40 in Sunday School. He wanted them praying for VBS. They determined they needed to do three things: Pray, Prepare, and Promote. Their story is amazing.

As they prayed they were impressed to enlist workers for at least fifty children, maybe more. They needed to contact every family in a five mile radius of the church and estimate how many children to expect. They did. They enlisted more workers. They promoted in the elementary schools, in grocery stores, convenience stores, everywhere they thought they might get the attention of children and parents of children.

They were not disappointed. They had 80 children for their first VBS in 23 years. Ten of those children were led to Christ and their families began coming to church and Sunday School. They grew from 40 to 60 in Sunday School! VBS worked. They followed up with every family who visited their VBS within the next week.

I asked Bro. Bob what he considered to be the more important thing they are doing. He said Vacation Bible School turned their church around. This year he brought twenty new leaders to our VBS training. They went back and trained the other leaders in their church. He said we keep VBS before our people year round. Oh yes…They had 80 children the second year and twenty came to Christ.

______________

Kiely Young is the Director of the Sunday School Department for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

Reserve These Dates Now!


Last week I encouraged you to begin working on your VBS 2012 budget now – using 2011 records and projecting forward for anticipated growth.

The second thing you need to do now is get all of your dates on the church calendar. Schools seem to be starting the first week of August – at least here in Middle Tennessee – and calendar planning has become a competition won by the dog that barks first and loudest! I’m not calling anyone a dog, but you get the idea – you snooze, you lose.

Obviously you need to schedule the week of VBS, but what other activities need to be on the calendar now?

How about the following:
**Enlistment (beginning and completion target dates)
**Training (both church and associational sponsored opportunities)
**Promotion activities such as flyer distribution, parades, registration events
**Family Night
**Follow-up events
**Worker appreciation event

Can you think of others?

Make the Connection From VBS to Bible Drill

Got any Big Apple Curriculum laying around? Want to help your kids learn Bible verses in a fun way? If you answered yes to those questions then why not pull those leaders guides back out and find some ready made activites that you can adapt with any Bible verse.

Oh, what’s that? You already gave away your curriculum. No worries, Sue Harmon with the South Carolina Baptist Convention recently contacted us about an article on their site that connects activities from the Big Apple to use with Bible Drill. Check it out here.

As you can see,  there are lots of great ideas for adapting VBS teaching resources to be used with Bible Drill, Wednesday night fillers, or anytime you need a great way to reinforce Bible skills. Share with us how you have used VBS teaching materials at other times.

It Ain't Over Til It's Over

Wait! Don’t pack away that inflatable Statue of Liberty or all those little yellow inflatable taxi cabs decorating your church.  Just because the teaching, singing, craft making fun of VBS is complete, doesn’t mean we’re done. There’s still lots left to do to connect all those prospects discovered during the week to an on going relationship with your church and our Savior and Lord. Remember that small little tag line that comes after Big Apple Adventure—Where Faith and Life Connect? Well, now is the time to help “connect” the biblical truths taught during VBS with real life! Following up with  those who visited during VBS is a vital part of successfully completing your VBS experience.

Check out Chapter 4 in the VBS 2011 Administrative Guide to find Follow-up Strategies and helps. Or check out some of these tips from previous posts here, here, and here.

What are some of your favorite Follow-up Strategies? We would love to hear them!

5 Action Steps for the Day After VBS

This guest post is from Tony Kummer at Ministry-To-Children.com

You feel tired and your feet hurt.

Your ears are still ringing.

You’re feeling a little sad it’s over, but it’s to move on.

Wait-wait, it’s not over yet! We have a few details to cover before the VBS books are closed. These last five tasks matter just as much as all the work you’ve already done. Simply print off this list and cross the finish line with a smile.

1. Pray through your attendance and volunteer rosters.

Don’t forget to thank God for the children and adults who showed up. Pray for each of them by name and look for where God is working. This is the time to discern where you should focus your outreach efforts.

2. Send a simple (paper) thank you note to every volunteer.

Keep it simple and just write a few honest lines. “Thanks so much for serving in our Vacation Bible School. There are no small jobs in the Kingdom of God. I hope this week inspired your faith and helped you grow closer to Jesus.” If you’re busy, or the list is too long, get help addressing the envelops.

3. Send follow-up letters to guest families.

Now is the time to carry out the final stages of your outreach plan. At a minimum, send a basic letter saying thanks for coming and letting them know about other ministry offerings. If you’ve posted VBS pictures or video online, let them know where they can find that too.

4. Gather and dispose of VBS materials.

Don’t let those items sit idle for weeks and months after the program. Seek out other churches that are using the same VBS theme. Arrange for the transfer as early as possible. Anything not passed on, or saved for reuse, needs to be in the dumpster by Tuesday. Clutter is your enemy.

5. Debrief and evaluate improvements for next year.

Take a few minutes to write down obvious strong points and failures in your VBS plan. Think through each station and brainstorm what to improve. At this point, lay aside any ego and just figure out what worked and what was broken. Ask a few trusted volunteers or your leadership team to do the same. File all this away in the file for next summer’s Vacation Bible School.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, come see Tony at the 2011 LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference.

 

Is VBS Worth it?

Hey guys!

Like you – I love VBS. But sometimes I wonder – is it all worth it?

VBS is runnin’ full blast at FBC Nashville this week – sets are being built for VBS 2012 photo/video shoot – 2012 VBS production is well under way – the team is already talkin’ about 2013 VBS – bags are packed for a mission trip to help FBC youth group teach not only one but four VBSs in California – it’s like VBS 24/7! For many of you – it’s the same thing – VBS 24/7!

Ever wonder why do all this? Is it worth it?

Remember Game Day Central? I was an assistant teacher that year. My son Evan was in my class – not by design – it just so happened that’s where the director needed to place me. It was ABC day and Evan pulled the teacher and me aside wanting to know more about becoming a Christian. He and I had talked before, several times, during devotionals at home or on the way somewhere – you know – those random conversations kids have with you sometimes. This time was different. It was time. You could feel it.

So, when the other kids in class moved to the next rotation, Evan, the teacher and I knelt in the classroom and I had the privilege of leading my son in a very special prayer – a prayer to ask Jesus Christ into his heart and life! It’s been a while but that still makes me smile!

So – is VBS worth it?

You bet!!

Tell us about your VBS experieince! Is it worth it for you? We’d love to hear!

Making the VBS Connection

Last Tuesday I wrote about the five essentials of VBS follow-up: 1. Start with a plan; 2. Put someone in charge; 3. Know your audience; 4. Use a variety of methods; and 5. Be creative.

The ultimate goal of each of these essential elements is to help you and your church make connections with the people you want to attend your VBS.

Here are five essential (again with the word “essential”) ways to connect:

1. Make COMMUNITY connections. Since I know the purpose of my church, where it is located, and what happens inside the walls, I just assume everyone else in the community knows as well. Wrong! The majority of people who drive by the church each day are not even aware the church or the church building exist. Before we can have great success inviting people to VBS we must first introduce ourselves to them and help them know who and what we are.

This doesn’t happen just because we leave brochures at each house or place a large banner in front of the church building. Well in advance of VBS we must, as a church, become involved in the community. We must participate in parades, community festivals, community organizations and schools, and be actively involved in meeting needs of individuals and the community.

2. Make NEIGHBORHOOD connections. Many church members today have little connection with their neighbors. They may wave as they are headed to the car, but have not invested the time to build relationships. Yet these are the people we are going to hand a stack of VBS brochures and ask them to invite their neighbors.

If we are going to depend on church members to be the primary promoters for VBS we may need to invest time helping church members meet their neighbors. This can be accomplished through block parties, frontyard Bible clubs, and service projects.

3. Make KID connections. If we want to invite kids to VBS we have to first find them. We have to go where the kids go: little league ball fields, schools, parks and swimming pools, the library (do kids go to libraries anymore?). You get the idea. Discover where the kids congregate and take your information to them – especially at the time parents are picking them up.

4. Make SERENDIPITOUS connections. That is a big word that simply means connect with people in unexpected ways. If ever church in town is delivering brochures door-to-door you are going to have to do something that stands out, that is unexpected, that is memorable! My favorite idea to date is a church that put their invitation on a frisbee, waited until the middle of the night, and placed a frisbee on each driveway. The next morning as people went out to pick up the paper or leave for work they found a frisbee not only on their own drive but every driveway in the neighborhood. Not only was it unexpected, but who throws away a frisbee?

5. Make PERSONAL connections. The very best way to publicize VBS is still the old fashioned way – one person telling/inviting another person. Instead of just making a pulpit plea to invite friends and neighbors, offer a brief training session on what to say. Arm members of the congregation with all the facts so they will be able to not only invite but to answer questions kids and parents might have. Share testimonies from people who are currently attending church because a friend or neighbor extended an invitation.

Another aspect of personal connections is training church members how to connect with people once they walk in the door of the church. Connection points 1 – 4 may get someone to attend, but unless personal connections are made the person/family is not likely to return. For many church members making this type of personal connection does not come easily – especially for members who have been involved in the church for a long period of time or who have a large family or many friends already attending the church.

By now (if you are still reading this post) you should be thinking, “Wow, making connections takes a lot of work,” and your are absolutely correct. But if VBS is one of the largest outreach events on the church calendar it requires work. It requires making the connection.

Coming next Tuesday: Big Apple Adventure theme-related promotion ideas.