Foto Friday. . .What is it? Revealed!

tyrrellIn last week’s Foto Friday, I started a new feature titled, “What is It?”. We had some good guesses. Thank you to Ukulelegirl, Joyce and Sue for your guesses. You all were close. It’s a craft that you can eat! It’s one of our preschool crafts called, “Slice Specimens”. It’s vanilla pudding with food coloring made to look like a slide specimen! Stay tuned later today for your next assignment in. . .  “What is it?”.








In Plain Open Sight

ruth smallToday our friend and VBS writer, Joey Scruggs, Pastor of Preschool Ministries, shares a Colossal story from his church’s VBS at The First Family (First Baptist Church), Columbia, Tennessee. Joey will do just about anything to reach kids for Christ (as evidenced on Tacky Tourist Day!)

Tacky Tourist DaySometimes the best place to hide a special gift is in plain open sight. There are many times in our ministries we spend so much time recruiting and planning events that we overlook the obvious opportunities.

Such was the case in planning for Colossal Coaster World at our church this summer. Supplies were purchased, decorations were created, registrations were rolling in, our staff was recruited, and even special theme days were planned. This coaster was off the ground! It was at that point that I received a call from the pastor of our Hispanic ministry saying, “Do you think it would be possible to have a Hispanic class during VBS this year?” pic3

We have had a growing Hispanic ministry at our church for many years. For the most part, this ministry has worked parallel with all of our other ministries. As I pondered this minister’s question, I began to think, “Our church has supported their ministry, their children participate in our programs, they place their children in our nursery.” It was then that these seemingly simple thoughts brought me to complete halt. Their ministry is our ministry. We are not two church families, but one.

pic2Once I reached this revelation, plans began to fall into place. We acquired Spanish curriculum and our Hispanic pastor recruited bilingual teachers and assistants who were available just in case there were any language issues.  We established a Hispanic class for Bible teaching, but incorporated the Hispanic children into our rotations because we wanted them to have interaction with all of the other children.

We had great success! This overlooked, obvious opportunity became a very special gift and has now created a bridge between our ministries. pic1



Being a VBS Director in One Simple Sentence

vancleave As part of the VBS team, I love hearing about everyone’s VBS. I thought you might like a glimpse into mine. I serve as the volunteer VBS director at our small church. (I really wish there was another “label” for the amazing, God-given ministry that gets the “small church” label, but that would be a whole other blog post!)

Like a lot of churches, our VBS is in the evening after most people have put in a full day’s work at their jobs. Because of that, we start with supper (or for my friends who live elsewhere, dinner). The bonus is that we pretty much have everyone there when we are ready to start Worship Rally.

One evening I was eating my meal with one of our second graders and her Bible study teacher. This little girl was new to our church and had really connected with her teacher. As we chatted over corn dogs and chips, the little girl looked at me and blurted out, “I know what your job is!” Amused, I smiled and asked, “Really? What is it?” With a big smile she replied, “You line people up!”

Lining people up! =)

Lining people up! =)

I start grinning every time I think about her comment. I loved it! VBS at my church, your church, and churches everywhere are filled with people who do so much to make VBS happen and reach out to kids who might not otherwise connect with our churches, even if no one notices.

So to all of you who share my job of “lining people up,” and the thousand and one things that go with being a volunteer VBS director, thanks for all that you do for the Kingdom.

What's Your Story?

thomasIt is SO exciting to hear about all the amazing things God is doing through VBS this summer! We’ve heard so many good reports from VBSs literally all over the world. Keep them coming! It is an honor to pray for and with you… and it’s certainly good to celebrate with you, too!

One great story this year comes from Texas. It’s about a lady who has attended church for years with her children. This lady volunteered to serve as “crowd control” in VBX. As she sat with the preteens to hear the gospel presented, she realized that the truth being spoken wasn’t just for those kids. This adult volunteer realized in that moment that what she had been searching for over many years was Jesus. She became a Christian that very day! And as if that wasn’t enough, one of her children also became a Christian during VBS! Talk about a celebration for that family and their church family!

So what’s your story? How is God moving and working in your church and in your community? We’d truly love to hear about it and celebrate with you!

Colossal Crafts Tips

carol-2I recently received these awesome craft tips from one of our dedicated VBS craft leaders, Mary Elizabeth Castles.  I love how the VBS community helps each other out and passes along ideas that may save someone else time and money! If you haven’t already conducted your VBS, check out these Colossal Tips.

Tip #1 for the Basket Toss on Day 2

Use applesauce cups instead of water bottles that are cut off. The applesauce cups work fine, fit on the stick, and if you can get people to eat the flavored kinds that come in little cups that look like  bushel baskets even better. We just had regular ones and the kids loved the game. We didn’t use the masking tape on the sides I had the kids glue on a strip about 6″ long of raffia that I had opened up. It was just the right width for the cups.

Tip #2 for the Fear Face Bookmark on Day 5
Use regular large colored paper clips ( pkg. of 80 at the Dollar Tree) and a pkg. of tiny rubber bands for hair (at Dollar Tree) to hold the yarn hair in place. Split a strip of clear scotch tape up the middle to put on to hold the tiny eyes. These were given to all of the staff attached to a bookmark of the books of the Bible. The staff loved it. (The strips of yarn for the hair were 3″ long and it took 4 pieces per clip.)  They were so cute!

Thanks, Mary Elizabeth, for these super tips.

What tips or adaptations worked for you in your crafts rotation? We would love to hear them!

A Pastor's Thoughts on VBS 2013

The following post was written by Steven Ruff.  Steven is the Senior Pastor of Port Royal Baptist Church in Port Royal, SC. He is huge fan of VBS and is a member of the South Carolina Baptist Convention VBS team. Steven has been in his current position since August of 2009.

Colossal Coaster World Vacation Bible School has pulled into the station for the final time this year at Port Royal Baptist Church. The screams and shouts of kids running through down the hallways are a distant memory. Decorations have come down and the once vibrant and colorful rooms, hallways, and common areas have been returned to their traditional look. Now that VBS 2013 is over, I have a few observations to offer as a pastor.


Pastor Steven and his wife Terri, VBS director.

1. Attendance: For better or worse, this is often the criteria by which VBS is judged as a success or a failure. I am not completely sold on this marker of success. Our average attendance for the week was approximately 115. I am encouraged by our attendance this summer. The reason is not so much about how many, but who. Our people were active in inviting. This year, we had all groups on campus at the same time; children, youth, and adults. One of goals in our Adult VBS  is to give parents who are not involved in a local church a place to go instead of dropping their children off and going home. We accomplished our goal this year. Parents had the opportunity to interact and meet other people in a non-threatening manner and be exposed to the gospel message. Success.

2. Volunteers: I am thankful to all of the volunteers who worked this week. I am especially thankful and grateful to all of our teachers who worked full-time jobs who left work and came straight to VBS for five straight days. We opt for a full supper each night rather than the Snack Rotation. Our volunteers appreciate this ministry to them. Also, this may be the only full meal that a portion of our attendees have all day. To all those who worked so hard, your pastor wants you to know that you are appreciated. Success.

3. Ministry: Any time you have kids on campus you have an opportunity to be engaged in real, one-on-one, life-changing ministry. VBS is intentionally evangelistic. We are diligent to make sure that we communicate the gospel message all week long, not just on the night of the “evangelistic” lesson. With that being said, we did not have any public professions of faith this week. For many, the assumption will be that we failed as a church in VBS. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are here to share a message and plant a seed, understanding that it is God who gives the increase. We trust God knowing His Word will not return unto Him void. Real ministry takes place when you take time to listen, talk to, and show love toward a child in the name of Christ. That is what we did this week. If, two or five years down the road, a gospel presentation is given and a child responds because of something that was planted in their heart this week then we did what we were called to do; be faithful. Success.


Reunion Time!

wooley1 2013 By now more than half of all Bible schools for 2013 are over, which means the real work of VBS is just beginning – Continued Connections.

Follow-up has long been a term to describe the actions a church takes after VBS to stay connected with unchurched families who participated during the week of VBS. For many churches follow-up, if done at all, has become little more than a post card. That’s why we are changing the term to Continued Connections. Follow-up is more than one contact or one activity. To be successful the relationships begun during VBS must be nurtured and grown. It is an on-going process.

Last Tuesday I went back to the files and found a great birthday card idea, but again that is only one contact.

The file also revealed several suggestions for an end-of-summer or back-to-school VBS reunion. This is a great way to reconnect with unchurched families just as they are creating their fall routine. It is also the perfect time to introduce them to new Bible study groups or ministries that typically begin in the fall.

The great thing about a reunion is that it can be as simple or complicated as you desire.  The main thing is to connect it through decorations, music, recreation and snacks to VBS. There is power in building upon memories by bringing people to a time and place where they had a positive experience.

Several VBS leaders shared that they pay attention during the week of VBS to the snacks and activities the kids enjoy most, and make sure they are part of the reunion. They also sing the VBS songs and recap the Bible content in a way that ties in with kids going back to school.

A VBS reunion is also a good idea for a fall festival. You already have the decorations in the closet!





Happy Birthday from Your Friends at VBS

wooley1 2013Thousands of churches concluded VBS 2013 over the weekend, and for thousands more this is day two. Approximately half of all schools will be conducted during the first three weeks of June.

This news tempts many leaders to believe the work of VBS is over for another year, but in reality, just as VBS ends the real work begins!

Now is time to make continued connections a priority – not only for the next few weeks but for the rest of the year.

When an unchurched family filed out a VBS registration card you were given a gift. A precious gift that gives you everything you need to build on the relationship begun during the week of VBS.

I have gone to the archives, and for the next few weeks I’m going to share ideas for continuing the connection.

The following idea comes from Sue Owen in Wyoming:

At registration get the child’s date of birth as well as school grade. Ask a few members of the church who are good at sending cards to be responsible for mailing out birthday cards throughout the year.  Include a VBS bookmark, an ABC Memory Card, or other reminder of VBS, as well as information about upcoming events.

Since few children get mail addressed to them, the parent should be interested in who it is from and see the reminder of the great experience their child had at VBS.

As a middle school student I attended a Billy Graham Crusade. During the response time one of my friends asked if I would walk down with him. The lady who counseled him took the time to thank me for encouraging my friend and asked for my name, address, and birthday. I never met her again, but for the next ten years I received a note of encouragement and prayer from her on my birthday. She wrote the book on continued connections!

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

And First Place Goes To…

wooley1 2013Congratulations to Dianne R. and Bethel Baptist Church, Sylvester, Georgia, for earning first place in the VBS Report race for 2013. The completed report form was the first of an estimated 25,000 that will be filed during the next three months.

Each year LifeWay mails out 48,000 personalized report forms. Every church and mission affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention should receive a form within in the next two weeks. Report forms are also printed each year in the VBS Administrative Guide.

Before your VBS becomes history, please take a few minutes to submit a report. Like a medical exam, VBS reports diagnose the health of the most evangelistic ministry we collectively do together.

Approximately 3 million people will participate in a SBC church VBS this summer. Of that total 10
percent will be from an unchurched family. Approximately 80,000 will make a profession of faith.