Let the VBS 2015 Shopping Begin!

wooley1 2013A group of enthusiastic VBS Groupies recently asked me what they should be shopping for now that will be useful for Journey Off the Map™. If you are thinking ahead and have storage room, Summer clearance sales can be a great opportunity to purchase decorations for pennies on the dollar.

In addition to discount and hobby stores, be sure to check out hardware and garden centers, toy stores, the seasonal section of your grocery store, and party stores. I have also captured good finds at Bed Bath & Beyond and Target.

Here are a few bargains I have found in recent weeks that will make great additions to VBS 2015 decorations:

  • Butterfly kites (2 sizes)
  • Bamboo poles used for staking plants
  • Bamboo fencing (also found at the garden center)
  • Woven mats (both table mats as well as floor mats)
  • Botanical place mats
  • Botanical yard banners
  • Botanical serving bowls
  • Mosquito netting
  • Yard (tiki-style) torches
  • Wood crates and boxes

Let the shopping begin!

5 Ways to Stay Connected with Preschool Families from VBS

by Klista Stortschalkboard headshot

Connecting with new families is one of the main reasons for conducting Vacation Bible School in your community.  If it’s not, you might need to take a closer look at why you’re doing it!  And because we most often target elementary aged kids with VBS, you might be overlooking an important group that needs your connection – families with preschoolers.  Here are five ways to consider how you can reach those families and keep them connected to your church.

  1. Pair up the child’s future Small Group or Sunday School teacher with the VBS leader when making a follow-up visit to a preschooler’s home.  The child has bonded with the VBS teacher during the week, and chances are, so has the parent! That transition on Sunday morning should go a lot more smoothly once they’ve met.
  2. Enlist parents with similarly aged kids to connect with a specific preschool family. Give a gift card to help pay for a quick meal at a local kid-friendly restaurant to encourage them to make a play date.
  3. Offer classes on parenting, finances, marriage and other family issues that would benefit preschool parents.  Now that they know you’ll take great care of their children, and made new friends of their own, they’ll be more likely to attend.
  4. Make sure they know you have other activities! Put together a calendar of future events and classes—include your Sunday morning services—and invite them to come.  The number one reason people attend is because they were invited!
  5. Promise to meet them at the front door on their first Sunday morning. Show them where their children’s classes are, take them to your small group, and sit with them during worship! Everything is easier when you do it with a friend!

My prayer is that these will just get you started. Keep that connection going all year long. Love on these parents and their children.  Let them know that your church cares, not just the week of VBS, but the other 51 weeks as well.

Let us know how your church connects! Blessings, friends!

5 Reasons My Pastor Loves VBS!

brown2Hey guys.

I’ve always been impressed with my pastor’s involvement in VBS, so I asked him if he would share a bit about why he, as Senior Pastor, thinks being involved in VBS is a good thing.

Here’s what he said:

1. VBS gives the pastor a chance to be directly and almost exclusively engaged with the children in ways that he can’t be on Sunday morning. Reflecting on Jesus’ blessing of the children, one of the easiest ways a pastor can be like Jesus is to be involved in VBS!

2. VBS gives children a chance to see a different side of the pastor which, for many of the children, may be a chance to see how God could call them one day to be a pastor, missionary, etc. This is why I try to be around for the worship rally and make myself available to visit classes to share a Bible story during the week.

3. Nothing can take the place of a pastor’s involvement in the evangelistic emphasis associated with VBS. This involvement is strengthened when the pastor has been a visible part of VBS throughout the week.

4. Pastors can become heroes to the kids in VBS. When an un-churched family member comes with the child for something like a Family night, an involved pastor who has already befriended the child has a better opportunity to connect with the adult family member.

5. When a pastor is involved with VBS he has a chance to interact with all of the adult volunteers who make up the VBS faculty. Again, this is going to be different from the typical Sunday morning interaction. Adults who are giving a week of their time to staff VBS will form a closer bond with their pastor and appreciate his love and attention for the children.

We’re thankful to Senior Pastor Frank R. Lewis of First Baptist Nashville for sharing his thoughts. Does your senior pastor love VBS? If not, maybe you can encourage him with these 5 reasons Pastor Lewis serves at his church’s VBS.

Shining in Your Sweet Spot

VanCleave - new (1)A couple of years ago we had one of “those” VBS weeks. Unexpected illnesses and surgeries and countless other things derailed our VBS plans. Thankfully people rallied and jumped in to do things outside of their norm. We “accidentally” discovered something great. We found a lot of people’s VBS sweet spot. One lady who “always” teaches jumped in to run the kitchen (we do a full meal each night of VBS). She doesn’t want to do this particular job all the time, but for one week she loves it!

Leaders who teach preteens throughout the year have a blast with kindergartners during VBS. Many couples have found that they enjoy being a team during VBS. Each year since that “accidental” year, we have discovered one or more people who have found their VBS sweet spot in an unexpected role.

The bonus of all this is that we are almost fully staffed for next year because people want to keep “their” jobs. And, a couple of people who did not see themselves as “good with kids,” now have a regular role in our kids ministry.

While this year is fresh in your mind, make of note of people who seemed to really enjoy what they did and enlist them now! Then, as you look to fill the rest of your slots for next year, give people a chance to try something different. The results can be … well, SWEET!

Another 2015 Sneak Peek

You’ve already gotten a sneak peek at the interior and exterior of the Tangled Branch Tree House (Bible Study) and Survival Springs (snacks). “But what about the other rotations?” you say. “We must see more!” Have no fear, the others are right here! Enjoy this little preview of what’s to come next summer on your “Journey Off the Map!”

Shady Grove (crafts)

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Boulder Bridge (missions)

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Rushing Waters (music)

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Tangled Branch Treehouse — The Inside Story

brown2Hey guys. Bible Study for Journey Off the Map is gonna be great! We’ll be focused on Jesus and digging into the life of Daniel!
In my last post, I showed you a tiny portion of the set we used for Worship Rally, which was the outside of The Tangled Branch Treehouse. Here’s what the final product looked like:
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For Bible Study, the setting is INSIDE the tree house! Maybe you can get a few ideas from what we did.
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The walls are 8′ tall, the top of the tree is about 10′, the floor is made out of a scrap piece of linoleum. We cut the edges and painted the back side with latex house paint to look like wood flooring.
Sets are fun but hopefully you’ll spend the majority of your time digging into the lessons. ​​We’ll be praying for you as you share Jesus with kids; some of whom may have never heard His name.

VBS 2015 Decorating Sneak Peek

thomasWho’s ready for a little sneak peek at some decorating ideas for NEXT summer’s VBS? Now, I know many people are not yet finished with Agency D3. I’m not trying to steal the thunder of this summer’s adventure to discover, decide, and defend… but I do want to give you a little taste of things to come. Hopefully you’ll get some ideas over the next few weeks of things to start watching for that might help you with next year’s adventure on your own Journey Off the Map.

Here’s a look at “Survival Springs,” the location for snacks. Kids will love sitting on giant lily pads in this serene setting.

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Watch for vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloths to go on clearance at the end of the summer. The round ones make GREAT lily pads! Who wouldn’t want to float along on a giant lily pad while eating a delicious VBS snack?!?!

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Now Pinning

carol_editedI just love Pinterest it’s the best for saving those ideas I come across and know I will want to use one day. And what better way to start saving those ideas you find now for Journey Off the Map™? Come on, you know you won’t remember where you saw that great tutorial for building a treehouse or that awesome snack idea when 2015 rolls around.

So you’re in luck, we’ve got a board started for you already. We’ve been searching across the web for almost a year now, and we are ready to share all, well some of our best finds with you on our Journey Off the Map board.Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 2.38.52 PM

Worried about decorating? No need we’ve got some ideas already pinned.

Worried about finding cool crafts? Got you covered.

Afraid you won’t know what to feed the ravenous kids coming your way? Again we’re on it.

Check out the board and start dreaming for 2015!
Follow LifeWayKids’s board Journey Off the Map VBS 2015 on Pinterest.

We’re Takin’ It Home with VBS 2015

20140114-075705.jpgFor VBS 2014 we introduced the Takin’ It Home CD as a way to connect with parents and allow them an insider’s view of what took place during the VBS day. The response was been terrific, and I am excited to announce the Takin’ Home CD will be part of VBS 2015 as well.

Takin’ It Home extends the VBS experience and fun to the ride home! Kids, parents, and everyone in the car gets involved in reviewing the activities of the day and sharing with each other.

We believe this resource is so important and transformational that we are giving it to you for free! Yep, you read it correctly. FREE!

One copy of Takin’ It Home will be in the Jump Start Kit being released in October as well as online for free download. We want you to take this free resource and make as many copies as you want, or at least one copy for family. Distribute Takin’ It Home as kids are leaving the first day and encourage them and their parents to listen to the daily segments on their way home.

For kids, Takin’ It Home not only serves as a review of the day, but takes them deeper into the Bible study through personal application and family discussion. For parents, Takin’ It Home not only gives them an inside view of what their kids experienced at VBS, but makes the study personal for them as well. Not only will parents learn about the daily Bible content of VBS, they will be introduced to the Gospel and encouraged to begin their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Takin’ It Home is designed to start conversations, and the conversation begins with what the kids learned during a session of VBS.

Audio files for Takin’ It Home 2014 can still be downloaded at lifeway.com/vbs. Click on “About” to learn more.