6 Safety Tips

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Part of loving kids and teaching them about the gospel is making sure they have a safe place in which to learn during Vacation Bible School. Show kids and parents that you value them and their safety by making sure that church staff and volunteers adhere to these safety tips:

  1. Screen volunteers. – Use lifeway.com/backgroundchecks to screen each volunteer, even ones who have been at your church a long time. This may offend some helpers, but encourage them to remember that this is for their protection and for the confidence of parents and kids who are new to the church and is therefore important. Consider also using the 6/2 Rule: each volunteer should have been a member of the church for six months and there should always be at least two adults with minors.
  2. Teach in a safe environment. – Aspects of this will look differently in a church VBS than in a Backyard Kids Club. Regardless of the space, get on a child’s eye level and look for potential hazards such as exposed plugs, breakable objects, swimming pools, playground equipment and bee hives. Make sure that the space is not only safe but free from distractions that would keep kids from learning.
  3. Have a First Aid Kit handy somewhere near where the majority of your Vacation Bible School is being held and make sure you know where it is. If you are a director make sure that all teachers know where the First Aid Kit is and how to use it.
  4. Know the number of kids in your class on any given day and count them often to make sure no one has gone missing. If you are a director, stress to teachers the importance of keeping up with all kids in their group.
  5. Establish a bathroom procedure that allows one teacher to supervise younger children from the bathroom door while always within sight of another adult. A teacher should never be alone in the restroom with a child. Remind teachers that this is for their protection as much as it is for the children.
  6. Follow your church’s drop off/pick up plan. This plan should include ways to keep kids safe and occupied while cars are coming in and out of the church parking lot and ways to be sure that an approved adult picks up each child.

What other safety tips can you think of to add to these? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

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6 Challenges for the VBS Registration Team

20140114-075705.jpgThe VBS Registration Team is often overlooked when it comes to training. After all, their task is simply to sit at a table and put ink on paper. But is that really their only task?

The work of the registration team is vital to everything else that happens during VBS. Without gathering adequate information a day of VBS can quickly dissolve into chaos. In many ways the registration team holds the keys, or at least the details, to the VBS kingdom. If I were training the registration team at my church today I would definitely want them to know how important and valued they are. I would also want them to know these six things:
 
1. The registration team creates the first human impression many parents and kids experience, not only of VBS but of the church. (I say human impression because in reality first impressions are made by the promotional materials and methods used to publicize VBS and the exterior appearance of the church campus as families arrive.) As the first human impression the registration team becomes the first church members to connect with unchurched guests. Even though they may spend only a few minutes with the families they will create a lasting impression.

2. The registration team must relationally connect with kids AND parents. When there are dozens of families waiting in line to register it is easy to become so involved in getting ink on paper – my term for filling at the registration form – that members of the registration team fail to  relationally and emotionally connect with the parents. Since registration team members are typically seated it is easy and sometimes expedient to never look up beyond the eye level of kids. It is important for the registration team to not only acknowledge the parent as the source of information needed to complete the form, but to acknowledge them as individuals who also need to connect to the Gospel and the church.
  
3. The registration team needs to have at least a summary knowledge of the daily Biblical content. I want the registration team at my church to be able to not only assure parents their kids will have fun at VBS, but I want them to be able to let parents know some of what their kids will be learning about Jesus Christ.

4. Since the registration team is the first church members some families will meet, team members need to be about to give information and answer questions not only about VBS but about the church in general. It creates a poor first impression when a parent ask what time and where they should pick their kids up and the registration doesn’t know the answer.

5. The registration team is vital to the process of continuing connections with unchurched families following VBS. It is important to capture as much information as possible and not just fill in the blanks. I want my team to know they have permission to record additional information such as parent’s occupation, how long the family has lived in the area, and other information they might learn while registering the kids. Information that is not formally requested on the registration form is often some extremely valuable when making continued connection (follow-up) contacts.

6. Once registration is complete I want my team to know they are still needed. While it is important for at least one or two members to remain in the registration area to care for late arrivers, I want the rest of the team to transition other areas such as the prayer team. What a great gift for other workers to know there is a dedicated team praying for them as they are teaching God’s Word in Bible study or assisting kids in making Scriptural applications during crafts and recreation.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

Introducing Explore the Bible: Kids and a Giveaway!

April21curtisI’d like to take a quick break from our regularly scheduled VBS programming to let you know about something really exciting.  We all want our kids to be fully grounded in Scripture, right?  Of course!  We want them to be so immersed into Scripture that they “discover” who Jesus really is and see how God can transform their lives.

That’s why we are so excited about Explore the Bible: Kids, the newest curriculum from LifeWay Kids! This book-by-book study of the Bible will take kids on a journey into Scripture where they’ll see the Bible in a way that makes them want to dig deep. Explore the Bible: Kids will help build a strong foundation that can lead to life transformation. That foundation will help them stand strong when they have to answer hard questions and “defend” their faith.

You can sign up to preview the first four sessions free! And better news, if you register before 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 24 you’ll be entered to win a year of Explore the Bible for your entire church!

Click here to enter and get a first look at how you can help your kids experience the Bible like never before. The winner will be announced on Friday, April 25.

 

 

6 Truths From the Agency D3 Scriptures

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There are so many wonderful truths in the Scriptures that are a part of this year’s VBS. Here are the ones that jumped out at me as I reflected on them.

  1. Jesus is God’s Son. – Matthew 3:17 – It’s true! Jesus is the Son of the God of the universe. The One who created everything. The One who sent His Son to Earth because He takes a personal interest in whether we know and love Him or not. How incredible that you and I and the kids we minister to can have a relationship with God’s Son!
  2. Seeing Jesus act invokes wonder. – Mark 6:2, 42-44, 51 – Whether it was the unbelieving friends and neighbors in Nazareth, the people who ate miraculous loaves and fishes, or the terrified disciples in the boat, everyone who saw what Jesus did was astonished. Mark 6:51 says the disciples “were completely astounded.” I do not stop in amazement often enough at what He has done. What has He done in your life?
  3. The crucifixion was truly horrific. – Mark 15:22-47 – I read this passage with a new shudder this week. As Easter approaches, I see clean pictures of empty crosses and puzzles with words like crucifixion, resurrection, and nailed. And I realize how often I see the cross like that. A simple activity reduced to a few words. But this year the picture is vividly before me. He went through the worst death imaginable, for us. For me. For all my sins. Let my wonder and thanks and praise never fade.
  4. We forget. ­– Luke 24:5-7 – The disciples shared amazement at Jesus’ wonderful miracles, and they heard Jesus’ words about His future. But they forgot pretty quickly. Their astonishment at His rising makes me chuckle. The angel asked the terrified women at the tomb if they had forgotten what Jesus said about rising from the dead. The answer was yes. Unfortunately, I forget Jesus’ words and promises all too often. Lord help me be more mindful of your words and your power.
  5. Jesus is Alive! – Luke 24:5-7 – Woohoo! Celebrate! Jump up and down!!! On Easter Sunday I’ll barely be containing myself with this knowledge, wanting to run and scream and shout the news. But I’m afraid the news doesn’t infect me that way all year round. That’s something I’d like to change in my life this year. Do you have any suggestions for how to keep the wonder of this fact alive year round?
  6. Being with Jesus changes everything – Acts 2:14-42 – Wow did those disciples change after Jesus’ death and resurrection. From mousy guys who ran to hide during Jesus’ trial and death, they sure turned bold once they saw the power of His hand over the grave. I’ve seen those kinds of changes stir in my own heart. And I’m thankful that now that I know Him, even on the days when I fail to acknowledge the wonder of His power and love, I’ll still never be the same because I have been with Him.

How about you? Share with us your own reflections on these Scriptures in the comments.

6 Must Knows for Working With Teens

carol_editedVBS it’s not just for kids. LifeWay provides VBS curriculum for Babies–Adults. Student VBS can be an awesome way for your church to connect with and attract students. However, many people only view VBS as a kids ministry. If you church already has or is interested in promoting Student VBS, these 6 tips will help equip your leaders.

  1. Teens are searching for their identity. VBS provides a great opportunity to introduce teens to the best place to search for the answers they need. Instead of turning to friends, social media, TV, and other worldly advice, teach teens to dig deeper into what God’s Word has to say about their true identity.
  2. Relationships mean everything to teens. VBS provides an excellent platform for teens to build relationships with positive role models within the church as well as deepen their relationship with God.
  3. Teens are beginning to explore and question their belief system. Many teens oscillate between believing in God today and doubting that belief tomorrow. VBS provides a safe place for them to find the answers to some of their questions and help them learn how to defend their faith.
  4. Teens are very experiential. They need times to put their faith into action. VBS offers a time to focus on Missions and practical ideas for allowing teens to fulfill the need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
  5. Teens quickly jump from one topic to another and lose interest quickly if they are not engaged. VBS curriculum is intentionally written to help leaders transition between different types of activities to help keep teens engaged and on track.
  6. Teens are capable of and even desire the opportunity to lead. VBS provides opportunities for students to not only step up and lead in their own peer group, but they can also begin to lead and assist with the younger learners attending VBS.

 

6 Ways to Build Relationships

maryVBS is an unbelievable opportunity for adult leaders to build discipleship relationships. There may be kids who come to VBS that you have never had in your church group before, and building relationships with those kids is of utmost importance so that they feel comfortable and want to come back and continue learning about God long after VBS.

As you train your teachers and helpers, communicate the importance of connecting with kids by giving them these 6 ways to begin building relationships:

  1. Find common interests. Ask kids what they are interested in and build a relationship around the things you have in common. Ask kids what they love about those interests, what is hardest, or what has been their biggest success.
  2. Ask kids about their family and their home life. You will be amazed how much you can learn simply by asking kids what they like to do when they are at home or what their families are like. Use these as jumping off points to develop relationships that will point kids to Jesus.
  3. Talk with them as you walk to and from rotation sites. Every moment is a teachable moment and a moment that can be used to point kids to Jesus.
  4. Make connections to the Bible content and applications to life with each activity, game, snack, and craft. Discuss with kids how the content applies to their lives specifically. Ask questions and be flexible and discerning as kids may lead the conversation somewhere you hadn’t planned to go, but that they need to hear. Asking questions instead of simply stating the connection helps kids process the application and helps you begin a discipleship relationship with them as they realize that you really care and want to help them understand.
  5. Be available. Tell kids frequently that they can talk to you and ask questions. Explain that you can answer questions to and from rotations or another time during the week. Make sure that you train helpers and teachers to always be in sight of another helper or teacher when talking one-on-one with a child. Invest in kids by going out of your way to answer questions and get to know them.
  6. Connect with their parents. Learn more about each child that you are coming in contact with during VBS by touching base with their parent. It’s always a good idea to ask what the child gets most excited about so that you have a great jumping off point the next day!

Six Steps for VBS Workers

candace-1If you are new to teaching VBS or if it’s old hat to you, there are six things each worker needs to do to make VBS a success!

  1. Prepare Your Heart. Read the daily Scripture passages and pray for the kids you will teach. Also ask someone to be in prayer for you as you teach children about Jesus.
  2. Get the Basic Facts From Your VBS Director. Find out how long each rotation is everyday so that you know how long you have to prepare for. Also ask how many kids are expected so that you know the number to prepare for.
  3. Plan. Make sure that you have the materials you need in plenty of time to plan each session you are going to teach. Make a list of supplies you will need.
  4. Gather and Prepare. Gather all the supplies needed for VBS. If you have pack or CD items, go ahead and assemble them and print them out.
  5. Teach. Relax and enjoy the chance to build relationships with your kids. Be flexible and adjust your plans to make this the best experience possible for you and your kids.
  6. Continue the Connection. Make sure you have correct contact information for each child in your class. Keep the connection alive by looking for ways to stay connected to the kids you taught.

VBS Geek of the Week: Jennifer Watkins

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This week’s VBS Geek of the Week is Jennifer Watkins from Unity Baptist Church in Georgia!

  1. What is your role in VBS? This year my role in VBS is the Director, for the past 6 years I taught pre-k and 5 year olds. I love to teach children they are the future of our church and if we do not train them at the time they are young you may not reach them. This is a cruel world we live in I just want to equip them as much as possible with the Love of God and the love of the church.
  2. What was your “geekiest” moment? My geekiest moment would be I love to wear a hat to class and I try to look for one that goes with the theam with VBS. Last year I wore a hat that had springs coming out in all direction and different colors for the collosal Coaster VBS, the kids love it.
  3. You might be a VBS geek if . . .  you really get into the theme and just have fun and act like a kid enjoy what you do.
  4. What makes you keep doing VBS? What makes me keep doing VBS is just the joy and excitement on the children’s faces when they come in and see the decoration, kids coming to you and say I know my bible verse can I tell it too you. Can I help with the pledges I want to hold the bible, I want to hold the flag. The kids are so eager to just come sometimes its hard to get them to go home.
  5.  When we came back from Ridgecrest we had one of the church memebers dress up as Action Pack Jack and they the kids loved it. We started a facebook paige just for our VBS page. This is for our workers and our members can go there and see where we are and what we have done so far and what decoration have been done. This is the first year we have done this and so far we have several people joining.

Using Zip for Kids as a Follow Up to VBS

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Do you have an exit strategy for VBS this summer? How will you follow up with the kids and families who come to VBS? How will you intentionally continue the learning throughout the summer so that kids go back to school in the fall changed?

This summer at VBS, we are talking about who Jesus is and why we believe that He is who He said He is. The Lord was so sweet in the way that He lead us to develop Zip for Kids. We didn’t see what He had done until after we finished producing Zip for Kids, but as we looked back on the content, we saw that Zip for Kids is the perfect follow up for VBS!

Zip for Kids emphasizes who God is, and that He is loving, eternal, omnipotent, faithful, and trustworthy. What a perfect way to follow up who Jesus is and what He has done for us! Give kids the bigger picture of how the two lock together, in that God sent Jesus to us because He loved us so much that He wanted to provide a way for us to be made right with Him. We can trust that God forgives our sins through Jesus!

Consider using Zip for Kids to continue the Bible learning with kids in your community after VBS. You can use Zip for Kids as a day camp, your Wednesday or Sunday night programming, your “Wacky Wednesdays,” “Fun Fridays,” or “Terrific Tuesdays,” or a number of other ways. It contains 10 Bible story lessons, 5 from the Old Testament (life of David) and 5 from the New Testament (life of Peter), large group activities, small group plans, videos, music, 85 hours of track times (or activities like drama, art, basketball, or outdoor games), and tons of other options. It is completely customizable, and will be great for those who came to VBS or even for your older kids at VBS to go into neighborhoods and lead alongside adults. Check out the details about Zip for Kids and let us know how you choose to use it! Make sure to sign up for the free preview if you haven’t done that yet. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to do that today.

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!