VBS Missionary Updates

 

parrishsmallerIt’s past the middle of May, and that means final preparations for VBS is at full throttle in most churches. The VBS team is praying for churches in their final stages of planning and enlisting workers, praying for directors and church leaders who are working hard to be sure all the details are in place, and praying for kids who will come to VBS and their families. We are also praying for the missionary families that kids will learn about in VBS this summer and expecting God to do big things in the lives of these missionaries and their families.

Each year, we publish an update on the featured missionary families on the VBS website so that churches can have an updated look at what is happening in the lives of the missionaries since the videos were shot and the VBS Missions Rotation Leader Guide was published. This update includes additional photos of the missionary families, any updates on what the kids learn about their ministries in the videos, and their current prayer requests. You can find the updates for the Flooks and Pillays featured in VBS 2013 here. Click on Follow-ups and Helps on the left tabs and then look for Missions Stories Updates. You can download the “Flooks Update from Bolivia” and the “Pillay Update” to get the latest information from these missionary families. Kids will enjoy hearing the updates directly from the missionaries.

Another missionary update we wanted to give is related to Andrew Mann, who was featured in LifeWay’s VBS 2011 Big Apple Adventure along with Proof, a K-9 Assistance Animal trained as a professional therapy dog. Andrew and Proof serve at Graffiti 2 Community Ministries and Graffiti 2 Church in South Bronx. In a blog last November, you can check out here, we asked VBS leaders to join us in prayer as we discovered that Andrew had been diagnosed with cancer and was facing surgeries and treatments. In true missionary fashion, Andrew found ways to minister throughout his treatment and recovery process. To find out more about Andrew’s personal journey and the ministries of Graffiti 2, check out this video produced by Brianne Barry, a City University of New York Journalism student for the Mott Haven Herald here. The video includes Andrew’s story, along with photos, detailing Andrew’s surgeries and cancer treatments.

For more information about Graffiti 2 Community Ministries in the Bronx, visit their website at www.graffiti2ministries.org. Follow Andrew on his blog at cancerousjoy.wordpress.com.

One last exciting update to report on Graffiti 2 is that they will receive a portion of CentriKid Camp offerings from this summer’s camp weeks to support their ministries.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing for VBS Means Preparing for Follow-up Contacts

wooley1 2013With the two biggest weeks of the VBS 2013 season just days away (more Bible schools are conducted during the first two weeks of June than any other week), we need to realize we are being given a rich gift – the gift of connecting with hundreds of thousands of unchurched families.

For many families the week of VBS is the first and possibly only connection they will have with your church or any Christian church. It is a new beginning for both the families and the church. Growing these relationships is not the responsibility of the unchurched families. It is our responsibility! It is the responsibility of the church!

Recently I wrote about the importance of replacing our way of thinking about follow-up – as a simple postcard or one-time phone call – with the goal of making continued connections.  This goes way beyond a simple “thanks for coming to VBS” into a series of actions resulting in ongoing life-impacting relationships.

While building a relationship is an ongoing process of connections built on top of connections, there must be a beginning. For most of us the beginning step is the age-old idea of follow-up – making that initial contact with guests and anyone making a salvation decision during VBS. The problem for most of us is that the initial contact is also the last or only contact.

As you start preparing for these contacts, consider the following four levels or types of contacts that need to be made. Each requires a unique message and response time.

Level 1: Individual making a salvation decision or asking questions

Response time for this contact needs to be given top priority and made within 24 hours aof the decision if at all possible. If it is a child making a decision or asking questions, the contact needs to be made with parents as well. The person making this contact needs to be able to review the decision or questions, help the individual confirm his or her decision, and then share information about next steps such as baptism and church membership.

Level 2: Individual with no church affiliation

Response time for this contact needs to be made within 48 hours of the last session of VBS or the last session the individual attends VBS. This contact needs to be made in person if possible, but in a relaxed and non-threatening way (i.e. a quick front porch visit instead of entering the home). The person making this contacts needs to be able to share about other ministry opportunities the church has available for each member of the family. The purpose of this contact is to deepen the relationship by connecting family members to on-going ministries such as other special events and weekly Bible study.

Level 3: Individual from another church

Response time for this contact needs to be made within the next week unless the individual also requires a Level 1 contact. The goal of this contact is not to entice the family away from their church, but to let them know their participation was welcomed and appreciated, and that they are always welcome to participate in other ministry events in the future. If the individual has made a decision or is asking questions her church should be contacted and made aware of the situation.

Level 4: Individual regularly attending your church

Response time for this contact should also be made within the next week. This contact can be a postcard, phone call, or home visit. The goal of this contact is to make sure those kids who attend every Sunday are not overlooked. They may not have been the primary focus of VBS, but they need to know they were noticed, loved, and appreciated.

As I wrote earlier, these contacts are first steps within the process of continued connections. This is a critical beginning, but just a beginning.

 

Endless VBS Promotion, Decorating and Snack Ideas!

Katie DeCilloIf there’s one thing we know you’re doing right now, it’s looking for inspiration!  VBS is seriously just around the corner.  We’re really excited about all the great sharing and conversations going on on our Facebook wall, but we know VBSers are active on Pinterest, too!

We’re doing our best to find what you’re pinning and pin it to our board so that our followers can see what you’re up to.  Be sure to check out the TONS of ideas VBSers have posted online!

Tip: Don’t see what you’re looking for on our board?  Type “Colossal Coaster World,” “Jungle Jaunt” or search terms like “theme park decorations” in the search bar and hit enter to see what others are posting.

Happy Pinning!

VBS Workers Needed! Where Are They?

wooley1 2013Recently we asked our VBS Facebook friends to share their prayer needs. Overwhelmingly the requests were for additional workers. Although I wish it were not the case, this response did not come as a surprise. Time and again we hear from VBS leaders that one of their greatest needs is willing workers.

Here are six steps to consider during the final days of enlistment for VBS 2013.

Step 1: Put your strongest and most experienced workers in speaking or lead roles. This will take the pressure off apprehensive volunteers and well as scale back the pressure on you to find workers who already know how to teach or lead the different areas of VBS.

Step 2: Look beyond the usual list of workers. It may be that the very best VBX leader is someone you have not even considered. I write from personal experience here. We were desperate for workers willing to spend a week with sixth graders. We had a lead teacher but no one else had stepped forward.

One afternoon Dava (our VBS director) said, “I think we should ask Tim if he would help us with the sixth grade.” Obviously my response was, “I can’t see Tim saying yes. I really can not see him relating to sixth graders.”

Thankfully Dava won the day and asked Tim, who obviously said yes – otherwise there wouldn’t be a story here.

To put it simply, Tim was awesome! After VBS he came to me and said he would really like to continue the experience by working with sixth graders in Sunday School. How often does that happen?

Within a few months Tim became the director of the department, and within the year he had expanded his ministry to include an extremely successful community outreach basketball program for inner city kids.

Thankfully Dava looked beyond the usual!

Step 3: Realize that quiet often the problem with recruiting volunteers might just be you and your attitude about enlisting. It is not unusual to find a director who is uncomfortable personally asking people to help. As a result, the director depends on bulletin announcements – the lest effective way to enlist workers – and then is bewildered when few if any respond.

Typically there are more people then we realize who will say yes if personally asked, but will never respond to mass appeal. If you have a difficult time recruiting personally, enlist a team of people who are good at it. In this way you are recruiting only a few people who in turn will recruit the masses. Beside, getting more recruiters on the team will help take care of the issue of looking beyond the usual list of workers.

Step 4: You also need to realize that there are potential volunteers who are willing to help, but might never volunteer because they feel inadequate,or are afraid to volunteer only to be rejected because the position has been filled by someone else. Often a hesitancy to volunteer has more to do with fear of rejection then fear of the job.

Step 5: When you do ask someone to help, make sure you know what you are asking him to do. Give him a list of specific responsibilities using terminology that is self explanatory. For example, don’t ask me to be the lead teacher for the first grade class without telling me exactly what a lead teacher is expected to do. When people know exactly what they are being asked to do they are much more willing to agree.

Another aspect of Step 5 is don’t ask someone to just be a warm body to fulfill worker/student ratio in the classroom. No one – even if they say they do – wants to just be there with no responsibility or purpose. Believe me, I have been recruited as a warm body and it was the most boring and uncomfortable thing I have ever been asked to do. When you ask someone to be a helper, make sure you have at least a short list of expectations. People willingly serve when they recognize and identify with a purpose. Give every worker a purpose and show him how his job fits into the big VBS picture.

Step 6: Realize that no matter the size of your church, finding enough workers is not easy. It is all proportional.

While in seminary I served at a church of about 75 regular attenders. A friend served at a church of about 5,000. I desperately needed two additional workers for our preschool Sunday School. One day I whined that if I were at a church the size of her church I wouldn’t have a problem finding enough workers. She quickly informed me that while I desperately needed two preschool workers, she needed a new group of 250 preschool extended teaching time workers every Sunday.

Lesson learned! No matter the size of the church there is always a need for workers. AND no matter the size of the church God has placed just the right number of volunteers.

As we approach the Day of Prayer for VBS this Sunday (May 19), know that LifeWay’s VBS team is praying for you and the workers needed for the harvest in your community.

May 19, 2013 – National Day of Prayer for VBS

 

Rhonda small Have you ever flipped the switch on a lamp several times and nothing happened? Do you remember the frustration of, “Why isn’t this thing coming on?” during your fruitless flips up and down. What about that sheepish, “oh,” realization when you see the disconnected plug?

This is a pretty good picture of our efforts to spread the gospel without prayer. Prayer is the power source that enlightens and charges our efforts. We are less than a month away from what are typically the two biggest weeks of VBS. Even if your VBS is later in the summer, the time to begin praying is NOW!

The VBS 2013 Administrative Guide has great prayer resources from prayer calendars to prayer walk brochures. And, this Sunday, May 19, 2013, is the National Day of Prayer for VBS.

I started thinking about praying for VBS and it occurred to me that V. B. S. is a great acronym for praying for VBS everywhere.

V – Volunteers! Recently on our Facebook we asked people to share their prayer requests. (Our team prays for you!) One of the most requested prayer concerns was for volunteers to help. Jesus told His disciples to pray for workers (Matthew 9:36-38). It is still an urgent prayer. The harvest is ready!

B – Bible! God’s Word changes lives. God promised that His Spirit would be our Teacher (John 14:25-26). We need His power and guidance as we teach Bible truths to others.

S – Salvations! VBS is still one of the strongest evangelistic efforts made by many churches. Prayer, concentrated Bible teaching, and the forging of relationships set the stage to share the gospel in a powerful way. Pray that hearts are prepared to respond to the gospel of Jesus.

I hope you’ll join me this Sunday, as we pray together for VBS!

 

 

A Colossal Coaster at Prestonwood Baptist!

katie2We are always so thrilled this time of year when pictures start showing up on our social media networks like Facebook and Twitter and in our inboxes of all the wonderful things churches are doing to promote and prepare for their VBS programs.

Last week, someone forwarded me these images of an incredible welcome space Prestonwood Baptist created for their VBS registration.  They were even kind enough to share the instructions so you can build your own coaster!

DOWNLOAD ROLLER COASTER INSTRUCTIONS

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Check out that Ferris wheel to the left!  You can find Melita’s easy instructions for building your own moving Ferris wheel here. IMG_6179

You can get your own giant roller coaster background by purchasing the VBS 2013 Supersized Coaster Backdrop.  These 6′ x 3′ backdrop panels can be used like wallpaper to create a topsy-turvy coaster that will wrap around any space. Ideal for hallways and classrooms, it’s a set of three panels packaged without folds for a crease-free, easy set up. The design allows you to connect multiple sets over and over for an endless coaster scene.

IMG_6102

We love this giant coaster they have suspended from the ceiling! Looks like it was made out of pipe insulation.  And I spy several of the VBS 2013 Inflatable Coaster Cars up there!  They make the perfect addition to any homemade coaster and also function well as a fun table-topper!

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In this picture, you can see even more of the suspended roller coaster, as well as a DIY marquee “ENTER” sign.  You can find instructions for making your own lighted sign here.

If you have pictures of your VBS space, please send them to us at katie.decillo@lifeway.com or upload them to our Idea Share App.

Looking for Colossal Coaster World Clipart??

katie2We’ve been hearing from so many of you that you’re into the decorating and planning phases of preparing for VBS 2014.  Not only are we praying for you, we want to make sure you know where all our available resources are.

I’ve gotten lots of questions on the VBS Facebook page about clipart this year.  We’ve got clipart!  And we want to make it easier for you to find.

For FREE downloadable images, visit this page right here on our VBS website.

To return to the site, follow these instructions or bookmark the page within your browser.

Once you’re there, be sure to click on Images on the sidebar to download cool desktop and cell phone background images!

If you’re looking for additional images, you have two options.

  1. If you or your VBS director purchased a Decorating Made Easy Guide, there is a clipart CD-ROM included in the guide!  This is where you’ll find rotation signs, etc.
  2. You can purchase a digital clipart pack from LifeWay.com.

 

Jungle Jaunt clipart can be found by following this link and clicking on “Jungle Jaunt” on the sidebar.  

VBS Preview Flash Drives

dukes2Still need to purchase one of our flash drives from our 2013 VBS Preview events? Act now before it’s too late!  There is still time left to get your very own flash drive complete with behind-the-scenes interviews with our VBS Preview event staff and tons of bonus content that you can use in your own church VBS event! Here is a small sample of the great content you can find on the 2013 VBS Preview Flash Drive.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/65111092 w=500&h=281]

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/65111283 w=500&h=281]

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/65111054 w=500&h=281]

To order, simply call 1-615-277-8184 or email tiffany.francis@lifeway.com

Price: $30 (includes s&h)

A Brand New Colossal Coaster at Silver Dollar City!

Katie DeCilloWhat does it take to build a colossal coaster? At Silver Dollar City, they start with the desire to give families an all-new thrill, something they can experience together and create memories worth repeating!

Outlaw Run - Worlds Steepest Wooden Coaster - Silver Dollar CityTheir newest coaster, Outlaw Run, is making history as the world’s most daring wooden coaster. The new $10 million ride sends passengers soaring through the Ozark Mountains on a ground-breaking wood coaster that includes several firsts. Outlaw Run features the world’s first and only double barrel roll on a wood coaster, with a 720-degree (double) barrel roll. It is the only wooden coaster to twist upside down with a record-breaking three inversions; the world’s steepest wood coaster with a first drop of 162 feet (more than 16 stories) at 81 degrees – nearly vertical; and the second fastest wood coaster in the world, reaching a top speed of 68 miles per hour.

Outlaw Run Inversion - Silver Dollar City

Outlaw Run - Barrel Roll - Silver Dollar Ci

You can ride Outlaw Run now through December 30 (weather permitting!).

Be sure to check out Silver Dollar City, host of the VBS 2013 Theme Video Series!

Top 10 Ways to Use the Kid’s Activity Pak Books

ruth smallYou just never know what you are going to learn at our VBS Preview Events! This past January, I got to hear Kelli McAnally share some creative ways to use the kid’s activity paks with preschoolers. Kelli wrote the 15-page storybooks for the VBS 2013 Kid’s Activity Pak: Babies–2s and the VBS 2013 Kid’s Activity Pak: 3s–Kindergarten.

vbs13-3-k-act-pak-cover

 

 

  1. Act out the book—kids choose colored craft sticks to determine which character they will be.
  2. Match colors in the book—kids draw pieces of colored paper out of the VBS 2014 Inflatable Coaster Car.
  3. Match letters and words—match foam letters, clothespins with letters, or tiles with letters to those in the book. Easy words (such as “God”) also can be matched.
  4. Listen for a word—kids clap or raise hands when they hear the word.
  5. Make up a finger play or hand motions.
  6. Create cards with review questions on one side and answers on the back. Use with a flip chute.
  7. Record the book on your phone—Play the tape while kids follow along in the book.
  8. Put the story in order—talk about what happened first, next, and so on.
  9. Make a flap book using sticky notes.
  10. Count items—use craft sticks to tally.

Kelli also gave us some great tips for reading with preschoolers.

  1. If preschoolers are on the floor, you should sit on the floor.
  2. Hold the book so kids can see it as you read.
  3. Encourage children to talk about the pictures during the reading.
  4. Allow a child to turn the pages.
  5. Guide children to ask questions about the book.
  6. Respect the child who chooses to look at the book alone.
  7. Provide time after a book is read for kids to respond to the plot and characters of the book.
  8. Read a book many times for kids to connect with the characters.
  9. Encourage children to play out the story from a book.
  10. Allow a younger child to skip around in the book if he wants.

Thanks, Kelli, for the books you’ve written and for teaching us how to use them!

Happy reading with your kids at Colossal Coaster World!