The Journey to VBS 2015 Begins!

Journey Off The Map™

GIG Visual pg master

 

Set out on a journey to uncharted territory where kids will encounter the unexpected waiting around every bend. Imagine discovering new plants, flowers, or trees and seeing amazing scenery from brand new vantage points. What excitement! Sounds beautiful, right?

 

In 2015 God has led us to take our content outline a little “off the map.” We jump in with both feet on Day 1 by introducing Jesus as our ultimate Guide and sharing how to have a personal relationship with Him. On Days 2–4 kids will explore stories from the Book of Daniel. These Bible stories show how Daniel and his friends followed God as their Guide. Kids can discover from these examples how to follow Jesus as their Guide. On Day 5 kids will learn that, even though the journey may be unknown to us, it is known to Him. The vision God gave Daniel and the promises Jesus made to His disciples give all of us hope for now and forever.

 

Just as Daniel and his friends stepped into uncharted territory and found that God still had a plan, kids can begin to understand that obedience to God does not always lead to the expected. The journey of a lifetime begins with an exciting relationship with Jesus that continues into eternity. Whenever faced with the unexpected, kids can know to listen for God’s command: “This is the way. Walk in it.”

 

Bible Content Point of the Week

God is faithful. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, he walks with us along the journey of becoming more like Him. God’s story of redemption includes the promise of eternity with Him. Our faithfulness to God is important to insure that the relationship grows as we journey with Him.

Day 1 Know Your Guide

Jesus’ birth was announced and angels declared that He is the Messiah. Jesus spent time teaching and healing people. He died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day He arose. Jesus is our ultimate Guide. (Galatians 4:4–5; Luke 2:8–11; Matthew 4:23–25; 1 Corinthians 15:3–5)

 

Day 2 Follow Your Guide

Daniel and his friends were among the Jewish captives chosen to serve in King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. The food provided for the friends broke the laws God had given the Jewish people. Instead of breaking God’s laws, Daniel chose to follow his Guide and requested permission to be given vegetables and water instead. (Daniel 1)

 

Day 3 Trust Your Guide

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow and worship the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had built. As a result the three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace. They trusted God whether He chose to save them or allowed them to perish. God protected the three friends in the fire and they emerged unharmed. (Daniel 3)

 

Day 4 Stay On Track

Daniel consistently did what was right and kept his focus on God. Even when the king signed an edict that made it illegal to pray to anyone but the king, Daniel continued to pray openly to God. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den for refusing to pray to the king. God closed the lions’ mouths and rescued Daniel from the lions. (Daniel 6)

 

Day 5 Keep Watching

Daniel received a vision of things to come. Jesus also told His disciples about things to come. God tells believers to keep watching for Jesus’ return and to obey His Word. (Daniel 10:7–12; 12:13; John 14:1–4; Revelation 22:7)

 

Up next: The Journey of a Lifetime

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.

6 Ways to Continue the Connection

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 9.51.12 AMMany times VBS is the catalyst that brings people into church when they otherwise would not step in the door. However, many times when the week is over things go back to business as usual. When this happens we miss out on a great opportunity to reach out and bring people into the fold and help them build a relationship with their Savior. Consider some to these ideas to help build on the foundation set during VBS.

  1. Offer a “next step” for VBS guest and their families. Utilize the parenting workshop included in the Adult VBS curriculum or host other needs based classes for parents.
  2. Follow up with visitors personally. Use the steps in the Administrative Guide for Directors for making quick at home visits, phone calls, or mail contacts. Or use the Transition From VBS to Sunday School outline on the Administrative Guide CD-ROM.
  3. Send a VBS 2014 Takin’ It Home CD or VBS 2014 Family Headquarters Guide home with each family. Either of these products will encourage families to dive deeper into the biblical content studied during VBS.
  4. Make the connection with the VBS 2014 Family App. Kids and parents can continue to discover, decide, and defend the hope that is in them.
  5. Create a follow-up strategy when you first begin planning VBS. Share the strategy with your entire congregation and encourage them to participate in the process. Continue until a contact has been made with every home and every parent has been met.
  6. Report and celebrate efforts with the congregation

Was Jesus Really God’s Son?

maryThis summer at VBS, we will work through some very difficult questions… questions that can make or break a person’s faith…questions that can build a solid foundation for giving a defense for what you believe. It may scare you to death to introduce these questions to your VBS goers, but these concepts are absolutely pivotal to kids developing a faith of their own that they will carry on with them throughout their lives.

5 Reasons Your Kids Need To Answer Hard Questions:
1. Your kids may not be asking you these questions, but they are hearing them from their friends or maybe thinking about them in their minds. We all have probably had a time when we had to wrestle through these questions ourselves. Is God real? Was Jesus who He said He was? Did Jesus really raise from the dead? Give kids the Truth to hold on to when they are faced with doubt or questions from others.
This will require kids to decide for themselves what they believe and how to defend it when they are asked.

2. You want to be the one to introduce and address these questions before they hear them from people who don’t believe in Jesus. There are lots of versions of “truth” out there. Give kids the defense they need for their faith proactively to help them build correct filters for determining what is True.

3. These questions are an amazing way to convey truth to unchurched kids. These kids will get a clear picture of who Jesus is and what the Bible says about Him through the content at VBS this year. The questions that we will seek to answer this year are a strong evangelical tool for introducing Jesus to kids who have never heard about Him.

4. There is no time like to today to build relationships with kids. Use this content to help kids know that they can ask hard questions and get answers from people who love them at church. Encourage kids to talk about the questions they have now, so that as they get older they will feel comfortable seeking truth from adults who follow Jesus.

5. This content will challenge you with how you talk to others about Jesus. As a teacher, you will be challenged to face the hard questions that the world is asking of Christians and give an answer for your faith. This content is a review of what you know to be true and a challenge to truly participate in the Great Commission in your job, networks, and friendships.

What do you see as the greatest benefit of answering the hard questions that the world has about Jesus this summer? What excites you about this?

Unpacking the New VBS 2014 Starter Kits

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They are here! We are so excited about the new Kids Starter Kit (for Grades 1-6) and the new Preschool Starter Kit (Babies through Kindergarten). We’ve listened to your comments that you want “everything you need to get started” in one box, so here it is.

Starter Boxes

Special packaging created just for the Starter Kits makes the VBS Director’s job super easy. Let’s unpack those kits and take a look.

Preschool Box open

Inside the Preschool Starter Kit, the three age group resources have been carefully packed together and labeled for your “Amazing” Babies to 2s teaching team, your “Fantastic” 3s-PreK teaching team, and your “Incredible” Kindergarten teaching team. As your teams meet, the label also explains what additional resources will be needed based on the number of classes, teachers, and preschoolers you will have. The 3s-Kindergarten Rotation Pack is included for easy distribution to your preschool rotation leaders. A sample set of craft packs and a “mystery” bag of fun items for preschoolers is also included.

Preschool Mystery

Ok, ok … I’ll tell you what’s in the mystery bag. =) A sample picture frame, samples of the sticky foam shapes, one sheet of the new Agency D3 Stickers, a set of the Daily Mission Insignias (for ages over 3), and a fun pair of the Special Agent Rearview Glasses!

Kids box open

Now, let’s take a peak in the Kids Starter Kit. The three Bible study age group resources have also been carefully packed together and labeled for your “Marvelous” Grades 1-2 teaching team, your “Fabulous” Grades 3-4 teaching team, and your “Phenomenal” VBX teaching team. Once again, as the teams meet, the labels will help them know how many additional leader guides, leader packs, and Kids Evidence Kits they might need. Individual rotation leader guides for Missions, Music, and Crafts are included plus Recreation Rotation Leader Cards and Snack Recipe Cards.

kids mystery

A sample set of craft packs and a “mystery” bag of fun items for kids are included. The kids fun items bag includes a sample picture frame, one sheet of the new Agency D3 Stickers, a set of Daily Mission Insignias, the cool glow-in-the dark ABC Wristband, and a fun pair of the Special Agent Rearview Glasses!

You are ready to grab a kit and get started! Have fun!

And don’t forget Jump Start Kits are also available.  Check out this post where we unpack them!

D3: Discover, Decide, Defend

carol_editedMost of you reading this title for this blog post are probably thinking, “Wait a minute, where’s the Agency in D3?” No, I have not forgotten or even misprinted this title. D3 is the title for Student VBS in 2014. Yes, you read that correctly. LifeWay does have Student VBS curriculum, and in fact we have Adult VBS curriculum as well. That’s right, when we say we have you covered from birth to death, that includes VBS.  We not only want kids to know how to discover, decide, and defend their faith, we want to equip students and adults to do the same.

Students are pressured on all sides to accept what teachers, professors, peers, and sometimes even family tell them about Jesus. It’s time for them to discover the facts about who Jesus is, decide what they will do with the evidence they’ve gathered, and step out in faith to defend what they believe.

Student VBS can be held at the same time as your children’s VBS, as camp curriculum for Student Camp, Bible study for Sunday or Wednesday nights, or as a weekend retreat.

And if you are looking for a way to get Students excited about defending their faith, consider taking your students to see the movie God’s Not Dead that is releasing in the Spring of 2014. Watching the movie would be a great kickoff or follow-up to D3.

For those of you out there who already use Student VBS, we would love for you to share your advice, experiences, and ideas.

Marooned Without a Compass Day

carol_editedWho knew that there is day for being marooned without a compass? I love that we can find reasons to celebrate/honor odd days. I mean, who thought, “I know! November 6th should be Marooned Without a Compass Day”? Was it someone who had recently been marooned and rescued? Was it someone who had just finished watching the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway? I’m not sure what the history behind the day is, but I thought it would be fun to poll the VBS team (in honor of Wilson, the volleyball) to see what VBS item they would want to have with them if they were marooned without a compass. I, of course, would take the VBS tablecloths. You can make a lean-to, rain poncho, sleeping bag, or any number of items.

So, in no certain order, here are the responses:

Keith— The giant inflatable to use as a raft.

Rhonda—Wanted to say the inflatable, but she changed to the tablecloths. And since it only said, “No compass,” She’s thinking her pack would have duct tape etc. She would put up a temporary shelter, use them to keep things waterproof, tote the food she would find when she’s foraging, and set a fine table for whomever wanders by.

Gordon—Decided to be all spiritual on us and said The New Testament of course! But he also gave props to Survivorman, Les Stroud for teaching him all he needs to know.

Bethany—Wanted to take the Rocket Pack Jack Stand-up, so she would have a friend. (Kind of like Wilson in Castaway.)

Mary—Opted for the Special Agent Watch, which she thought had a GPS function – thus allowing someone to find her. She was just going to enjoy the scenery until they arrived, but we hated to inform her it might be a long wait since the watch doesn’t have GPS. It does, however, have a cool laser light with which she could entertain small animals and a working watch so she could keep track of just how long she was marooned.

Candace—Settled on taking the balloons, so she could tie them to something and fly away. She has her movies confused – that would have been Up.

Melita—Of course Melita is the rebel on the team, she said she would take duct tape. Because even though it’s not an official VBS accessory, you can’t do VBS without it!

So there you have it. What VBS accessory would you take if you were marooned without a compass?

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 5: 6 Step VBS Continued

wooley1 2013Last Tuesday I introduced you to the simplification and reorganization of the VBS 2014 Administrative Guide for Directors based on LifeWay’s 6 Step VBS. Age-group leader guides have also been simplified as well – you are going to love the cleaner look – beginning with Page 1 which includes a version of the 6 Step VBS designed specifically for teachers.

1. Prepare Your Heart

2. Get the Basic Facts from Your VBS Director

3. Plan

4. Gather and Prepare

5. Teach

6. Continue the Connection

Following is a brief explanation – at least in my words – of what each step means.

Prepare Your Heart: Great teachers are first great learners. Preparing our hearts to teach VBS means first allowing the message of each Bible story to speak to and transform us personally. The Bible content of Colossal Coaster World is a great example. Before I could teach others to face fear by trusting God, I had to first trust God with some of my own fears.

Get the Basic Facts from Your Director: Simple facts such as session time, room assignment, and a list of other activities and rotations planned for the day, are essential to the planning process. This may seem like a no-brainer, but regrettably I have been the teacher who was told, “Just show up a few minutes early and we’ll tell you what you need to know.” Can you say, “Mistake!”?

Plan: Take time to look over all five sessions to learn how each connects to the others. Once you have the big picture you can begin planning one session at a time, making lists of items to gather and prepare for each day.

Gather and Prepare: My favorite way to prepare for VBS is to create a master list of all the resources I need to gather, purchase, or prepare. With list in hand I like to make one raid on the church resource room, one shopping trip, and take one evening to put everything together. Then, using six boxes or bags, I separate everything by the day it will be used. The sixth box is for the resources that will be used every day. By taking time in advance to gather and organize I save tremendous time and anxiety the day of the session. Each morning I simply review the lesson, pick up the appropriate box, and head to church.

Teach: There is a little more involved here than just reading or telling a passage from the Bible. But with a little preparation and a little knowledge of why a variety of learning activities are important, transformational teaching will be much easier than you might imagine.

Continue the Connection: We spend all week getting to know and influence kids, and then on the last day of VBS we tear down the decorations, throw the resources in a closet, run to our cars, and consider the job done. VBS is one of the best opportunities the church has to connect with unchurched kids and their families, yet we so often cut the relationship off just as it is gaining momentum. Think of it as starting to build a bridge but then halting construction half way across the river. Continue the Connection (follow-up) is not the responsibility of the pastor, the VBS director, nor any one person or team. Continuing the connections started during VBS is the responsibility of every VBS worker and church member.

To learn more about these six simple steps check out Page 1 of a LifeWay’s VBS leader guide which will be available in December.

Next week, Tour Stop 6: Takin’ It Home

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 2: Starter Kits

wooley1 2013For the next several weeks Tuesdays are for Touring! Join me as together we tour the improvements, updates and changes to LifeWay’s VBS resources you will discover with Agency D3: Discover. Decide. Defend!

Our first tour stop was last Tuesday with the all new Jump Start Kit that will be available in October. This kit contains everything you need to start planning, enlisting workers, and getting your church pumped for VBS 2014.

Tour Stop 2 is the Preschool Starter Kit and Kids Starter Kit.

As I said last week, “You spoke and we listened!” We have made getting the right resources to the right age-group leaders easier than ever. Inside the starter kits you will find one of every teaching resource for ages Birth through Kindergarten in one box, and one of ever teaching resource for Grades 1 through 6 in another. Unlike the Samplers and Super Samplers that contained Leader Guides but not Leader Packs, the Preschool Starter Kit and Kids Starter Kit each contain everything you need to get started, pre-packaged by age group in easy to identify and distribute zip-lock bags.

The Preschool Starter Kit (005610212) contains one of each of the following resources:

  • VBS 2014 Babies-2s Leader Guide, Babies -2s Leader Pack, and Kid’s Activity Pak: Babies-2s
  • VBS 2014 3s-Pre-K Leader Guide, 3s-Pre-K Leader Pack, and Kid’s Activity Pak: 3s-Kindergarten
  • VBS 2014 Kindergarten Leader Guide, Kindergarten Leader Pack, and Kid’s Activity Pak: 3s-Kindergarten
  • VBS 2014 3s-Kinderarten Rotation Pack

The Kids Starter Kit (005610211) contains one of each of the following resources:

  • VBS 2014 Grades 1-2 Bible Study Leader Guide, Grades 1-2 Bible Study Leader Pack, and Kids Evidence Kit
  • VBS 2014 Grades 3-4 Bible Study Leader Guide, Grades 3-4 Bible Study Leader Pack, and Kids Evidence Kit
  • VBS 2014 Grades 5-6 Bible Study Leader Guide, Grades 5-6 Bible Study Leader Pack, and Kids Evidence Kit
  • Missions Rotation Leader Guide with DVD, Crafts Rotation Leader Guide, Recreation Rotation Leader Cards, Snack Rotation Recipe Cards, and Music Rotation Leader Guide with DVD

Each Starter Kit also contains samples of cool Agency D3 swag and comes packaged in a convenient box that is easy to carry and super easy to store.

And as before, all resources will be available individually as well as in Starter Kits.

Next week, Tour Stop 3: Kids Evidence Kit.

 Learn more about Agency D3 at www.lifeway.com/vbs

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 1: Jump Start Kit

wooley1 2013Over the next few weeks I will be taking you with me on a tour of the improvements, updates, and changes you will soon experience with Agency D3: Discover. Decide. Defend!

The improvement that will be most noticeable at first – especially to VBS directors and pastors – is the absence of the Sampler and Super Sampler. For 17 years LifeWay has offered a Sampler, and more recently a Super Sampler, of the many resources designed for that specific year.

We said “Sampler” but many of you thought “Starter Kit”. While this may seem like a trivial difference, it can be a huge distinction, especially when a sampler does not include everything needed to get started. You spoke and we listened!

So out with samplers and in with Starter Kits! The first is the Jump Start Kit that will be available beginning in October (previously VBS resources, including samplers, have not been available until December).

 

I track down the truth about questions like:

As the name implies, the Jump Start Kit is designed specifically to give directors a jump start in planning, enlisting workers, and promoting the theme and dates of VBS.

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, an exclusive Director’s Badge, all packaged in an official Agency D3 metal attache case.

The VBS 2014 Jump Start Kit is $34.95. Except for the exclusive Jump Start (“save the date”) poster and Director’s Badge, all other resources of the kit can also be purchased separately.

My favorite part of the attache case is the way it is written into the Agency D3 worship rally script. Each day the director or pastor will be instructed to open the case to reveal information that is vital to the investigation for that day. In addition to the case, directors will want to wear their exclusive badge along with their rearview glasses and carabiner.

Agency D3 is a theme kids will love! But more importantly it is a theme that challenges kids, teens, and adults to explore God’s Word for themselves, decide what they believe about the truths discovered, and then have the ability to defend their beliefs.

Sure, VBS is about the fun of a theme that leaders as well as kids enjoy, but more importantly it is about the Bible content and the way it is presented to move kids into a transformed relationship with Jesus Christ. LifeWay has never produced a VBS resource that is more evangelistic then Agency D3. Beginning with day one the Gospel is clearly presented and kids will be challenged to respond.

Next week, Tour Stop 2: Starter Kits!