Random Tip 1412: Make Relationships a Priority

20140114-075705.jpgA few weeks ago I shared that years ago Vacation Bible Schools were conducted for four weeks, then shortened to two, then one, and now we are beginning to hear of more churches scheduling three day schools.  In the previous post I wrote that as we shorten the number of days and hours it becomes even more important to connect everything – including snacks – to the daily Scripture and Biblical theme. As we decrease time we must increase the intentionality of everything we do from promotion to continuing the connections after VBS. This goes for being intentional about relationships as well.

One of the reasons VBS has continued to result in a high number of professions of faith is the concentrated time spent over multiple days getting to know the kids and the kids getting to know the leaders. As relationships grow so does the trust factor that allows kids to embrace the Gospel.

This is why we traditionally reserve the Gospel presentation and opportunity for response to the third or fourth sessions.  Although we may clearly present the Gospel during the first session (as we do in the Agency D3 resources) we typically wait until relationships have been established before presenting the opportunity to respond. We want to give time for the trust factor – both in the Gospel message and with the leaders presenting it – to develop.

As we decrease the days of VBS we also decrease the opportunity for relationships to grow. When you add this to a rotation process that often places kids with a different leader ever 30 minutes relationships become even more difficult. There is already some (inconclusive) evidence that Bible schools of three days or less result in fewer professions of faith then schools of five days or more.

So how do we meet this challenge? By making relationships a priority! From the moment families arrive at the registration table until they are back in their cars for the ride home we must concentrate on getting beyond the basic acknowledgement of their existence to truly establishing a relationship. Actually we must make relationships a priority far beyond the VBS experience but that is a topic for another blog.

This means the registration lady’s job is to do more then get ink on paper and fill in every blank. Her first priority is to try (as best as time allows) to get the know both the kids and their parents. The snack team has to do more than pour lemonade and pass out cookies. They must also interact with the kids and try to get to know them.

This also means your church may need to enlist more volunteers with the primary assignment of getting to know the kids and their parents. The fewer days you conduct Bible school the lower the kids to worker ratio needs to be. This may mean creating smaller classes or it may mean enlisting more adults to travel with kids to each rotation and actually interacting with them during the rotation.

If VBS is the biggest evangelistic outreach of your church year you can’t afford to sabotage the possibilities by decreasing the opportunities to build and grow relationships.

VBS 2014 Tour Stop 4: 6 Step VBS

wooley1 2013Is it really possible to boil VBS down to six simple steps? Well, maybe not, but you spoke and we listened! You said, “Make VBS simpler!” So LifeWay’s VBS team went back to the drawing board and looked for ways to make it happen.

The first thing we did was take a look at the way the Administrative Guide for Directors was organized. Actually the admin guide had already been reorganized for 2013 around six categories, and many of you enthusiastically responded that it was a great change. As we pondered (a favorite word and action of our VBS publishing team leader) these six categories, we realized they are the bases of six simple yet extremely necessary steps required for planning and conducting a successful VBS.

The Six Steps for VBS directors and pastors are:

1. Know Your Purpose and Theme

2. Start Planning

3. Enlist and Train Workers

4. Promote and Publicize

5. Register Participants

6. Continue the Connection

Like I said, simple!

Know Your Purpose and Theme: Most people assume they know why VBS is being conducted, but in reality there are typically as many different reasons as there are people on your team. Successful Bible schools are organized and conducted around a focused and unified purpose. I’m hoping the purpose of your VBS is evangelism!

Once you know your purpose you must know your theme, or better yet know the purpose of your curriculum. For example, is your curriculum and theme designed for evangelism or for something else? Look closely, you might be surprised!

Start Planning: Great planning follows a process that includes creating a calendar or work timeline, allocating dollars in a budget, and enlisting key leadership.

Enlist and Train Workers: An important aspect of enlisting workers is to outline expectations and responsibilities clearly and then turn the workers loose to do their jobs. A key expectation should be participation in training!

Promote and Publicize: Promotion, first to the congregation and then to the community, needs to begin early and reoccur often.

Register Participants: Registration seems like a no-brainer, yet many VBS leaders fail to capture accurate and adequate information for every participant. As a result, the ability to carry out the sixth step becomes limited.

Continue the Connection: For decades we have called it follow-up, but have come to realize that much more than mailing a thanks-for-attending postcard is needed if we are going to connect unchurched families to the Gospel and to the church.

Check out the VBS 2014 Administrative Guide for Directors for more detailed information on each of these six steps. This year you can implement these steps earlier than ever with the all-new VBS 2014 Jump Start Kit that will be available in October!

Next week, Tour Stop 5: 6 Step VBS Continued – introducing the six steps of the age-group leader guides.

 

Register Now For Kids Ministry Conference!

KMC_Header

Andy Dukes, Event CoordinatorIt’s hard to believe that October is almost upon us.  And that can only mean one thing here at LifeWay Kids – an awesome opportunity for you to get connected with our national Kids Ministry Conference! An annual conference hosted by our LifeWay Kids team, we build it to truly be a transformational experience for you and your children’s ministry team. We want to provide you with great training and content through our workshops, great worship, and inspirational messages, in addition to loads of fun!

We feel that this year’s event is going to be the best one yet. You need to act now because space is filling up fast. Some of the featured guests this year include Anthony Evans, Eric Geiger, JD Greear, Angie Smith, Jeffrey Reed, and Jennie Allen. And for 2013, your registration fee also includes a ticket to the historic Ryman Auditorium for a special concert on Tuesday night! That’s almost worth the price of admission right there! If that wasn’t enough for all you VBS fans out there, if you come to KMC 2013, you will get the chance to take part in an exclusive preview of our 2014 VBS theme, “Agency D3″!

So what are you waiting for? This is a great opportunity to network with others, be challenged in your own ministry, and be inspired by the Lord to continue following the call He has placed on your life.

For more info, check out our website HERE.

Don’t Delay! Register Today!

For more info or if you have specific questions, contact our Event Coordinator- Andy Dukes (andy.dukes@lifeway.com)

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!