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!

Agency D3 Missions Update

BlogDDDWe hope your kids enjoyed learning about Liam and his family and Mary and Abraham during their time in the Map Room at VBS. You can learn more about what Liam has been up to by clicking here.  And if you want to hear more about the work at Connexxion click here for an update.

During the week of VBS we challenged kids to go out and complete their own “Special Assignment” as part of their Missions experience. We would love to hear about any reports you received from your special agents (kids) during the week. Share your updates with us in the comments below.

Recycling Ideas that Increase the Value of Your VBS Resources

20140114-075705.jpgAs a recovering pack rat who once had the task of cleaning out an accumulation of 85 years from a church resource room, I have come up with six ways of recycling and organizing selected VBS resources for later use. By doing so you will not only appease your pack rat tendencies, but become a better steward by increasing the value of the resources that truly are too good to throw away.

1. Find a church or organization that can put the resources to good use. Based on the size of your VBS you might be able to supply multiple churches with everything they need to conduct VBS. When donating resources, I have learned from experience, it is best to establish a specific date and time for the resources to be picked up.

2. Create files for the Recreation and Snack Rotation Cards. VBS games and snacks never go out of style and are a great resource when planning other activities. You may not wish to call your next party Outrigger Island but the games and snacks for that VBS are perfect for a luau or pool party. (You might want to check out LifeWay’s I Heart VBS Card Box – 005466928.)

3. Create a learning activities file by clipping or scanning the Bible study activities kids enjoyed most from Leader Guides. Your activities files will become a great idea generator for future Bible studies and events.

4. Use VBS songs throughout the year. I often meet young adults who can still sing VBS songs from their childhood. The songs have great meaning that live beyond the five days of VBS.

5. Incorporate unused materials such as additional mission rotation and Bible study activities into other ministry events such as Wednesday nights.

6. Use resources for Backyard Kids Club or mission trips. Your workers have already been trained and have experience using the resources. Utilize this experience by taking VBS on the road and using the additional resources for Backyard Kids Clubs and mission trips

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

Evaluating After is as Important as Planning Before

20140114-075705.jpgWe all know how important planning is to the success of VBS. But why take the time to evaluate after it is over? After all, what is done is done! 

I once had a boss who was so convinced of the value of evaluation he held evaluation sessions to evaluate the evaluation sessions. While this may seem extreme, what he taught by example is that we can never stop learning or improving, AND the only way to truly learn and improve is to evaluate the previous event before planning the next one.
Here are six aspects of evaluation I learned from my boss.
1. Evaluate as soon after the event as possible.
2. Evaluate with your entire team, with just your leadership team, and finally by yourself.
3. Insist that every critical statement be followed by a positive statement. Otherwise your goal of constructive evaluation can disintegrate into a grip session.
4. Take great notes, capturing every statement and suggestion. What seems like a ridiculous opinion at first may turn out to be the best takeaway of the entire process.
5. Don’t take negatives personally. You will never grow and improve personally, and your team will stop giving feedback, if you take offense at negative evaluations.
6. Review evaluation notes regularly as you plan the next event.
Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves you as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist and event planner .

6 Actions That Express Appreciation

 

20140114-075705.jpgIf you are like me you might struggle with expressing appreciation to your VBS team. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the work and contributions of others. It’s not even that we don’t think about expressing appreciation. While we are extremely grateful we just do a poor job of expressing it.

Here are a few ways to make sure members of your VBS team know they are appreciated and their efforts have not been taken for granted.

1. Public recognition is possibly the easiest way to express appreciation because everyone can be recognized and thanked at once, and there is no chance – unless you try to call everyone by name – of overlooking someone. Public recognition also insures the entire congregation is aware of the many hands required and that everyone can have a part to play on proclaiming the Good News through VBS.

2. Provide training may seem like a strange suggestion for expressing appreciation but in many ways it is the highest compliment. By providing training you tell your team you appreciate them by investing your personal time in them, and you appreciate them by wanting them to feel the joy of confidence and success.

3. Provide resources, like providing training, says “I appreciate you and want you to have the resources needed to successfully accomplish your tasks.” By providing resources you are also telling your team you appreciate their time and want to make preparation and the gathering of supplies as easy as possible.

4. Provide volunteers to help unload cars on the day everyone is decorating and preparing their rooms. Another way to tell a worker they are appreciated is by providing childcare 30 minutes before and after VBS, during training, and preparation days.

5. A smile, a hug, or a pat of the back is always appreciated – especially when it comes from your leader. In the midst of VBS chaos it is often the small gestures that reenergize both the receiver and the giver.

6. And most of all, just say thank you.

 

Put Your VBS T-shirts to Work for You

20140114-075705.jpgI love being in an airport or store and seeing a VBS t-shirt from years gone by. I have great memories that are uniquely attached to each theme, and seeing a shirt makes those memories come alive. But more important than the memories created by a VBS     shirt is the awareness and promotion value they can create. Churches often distribute shirts on the first day of VBS or at the conclusion of the week, but what if they were distributed prior to the week and intentionally used for promotion? They become moving billboards – especially when worn in mass.

Here are a few ways to put your VBS t-shirts to work for you.

  • Schedule a “Wear Your VBS Shirt to Church Sunday.” Not only will the shirts draw attention to your VBS but they can be used as a way to identify, recognize and honor workers.
  • Schedule a flash mob to appear at a shopping center, mall or park. Be sure to have VBS info ready to distribute.
  • Have everyone wear their shirts to a community parade or fair (July 4th). If a parade is not planned, create a neighborhood walk, bike and trike parade to create awareness and distribute information.
  • Ask kids and parents to wear their shirts on the last day of school. (Be sure to get approval in advance
We would like to hear how you use shirts to promote your VBS. Hope to hear from you soon!
Following Jerry on Twitter @vbsguy for more tips and ideas.

Make Your VBS Week Enjoyable

20140114-075705.jpgWhile those of us who consider ourselves VBS Groupies – and that most likely includes you – can’t imagine more fun than VBS, we have to admit the week can be stressful. I have discovered there are ways to reduce the stress and insure the week is more enjoyable.

 

1. Plan lessons and gather supplies in advance.
2. Create simple menus, shop, and prepare meals and snacks as much as possible in advance.
3. Pick out clothes for you and the kids the night before. Creating a theme-related uniform and wearing it every day makes the “what to wear” decision a breeze.
4. Don’t over schedule other activities during the week. Build in time for physical rest for both you and the family.
5. Don’t allow yourself or those around you to grumble and complain if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned.
6. Above all, laugh often! Find humor in situations that would normally cause stress.
We would love to hear how you make your VBS week more enjoyable.
For more tips follow Jerry, @vbsguy, on Twitter.

 

Relieving Stress in the Midst of VBS Chaos

20140114-075705.jpgWhile I believe there is no week of the church year more exciting than VBS, the truth is, for many VBS workers it is often the most stressful week of the year. Stop stress from raining on your VBS week by placing your plans and actions under the umbrella of these six truths:

1. God is already at work and has invited you to join Him. God has great plans for the week and if you are not careful your attitude, plans and actions will get in the way. VBS is not your work. It belongs to God and you have been graciously invited along for the ride.

2. God is in control, not you. When the activities of VBS become stressful and overwhelming it is time to check your attitude to see who you have decided is in control. If it is you, then watch out!

3. God has not asked you to do anything He has not already equipped you to do. God knew the minutes and seconds of the week long before He invited you to join Him. He knew the skills and strength that would be needed and He has already empowered (Philippians 4:13) you to carry out His plan.

4. Perfection is not required, just your best. If God had expected perfection He would have never enlisted a mere human for the job. While it is important to strive for perfection it is important to accept that it can never be achieved this side of Heaven.

5. You are not in it alone. VBS is not a one-woman, one-man, or even a one-church ministry. It requires a team! Even though you might be leading the team you are not in it alone. Learn to rely on the team even if it means things might not get done exactly as you personally would do them.

6. There are more people willing to help than you might imagine. Many church members who never work in VBS do so because they have never been specifically asked. One of the beauties of church life is community, and communities tend to respond to needs. Make your needs known and don’t be afraid to ask.

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

 

Mission Project for 2014

carol_editedAs many of you are gearing up for VBS 2014, you maybe wondering how you make missions truly relatable to kids. Each year we offer ideas for a missions project in our VBS curriculum, this year we have partnered with the North American Mission Board and their Send North America initiative. While this project may seem a little hard for children to grasp, we believe that churches can help kids become connected and involved in many ways. Here are a few

  • Teach kids the gospel. Kids need to understand the urgent need for not only themselves, but others to be truly transformed by God’s love.
  • Check out this article from the Hartford CT. Baptist Press to put church planting in a first person perspective.
  • Introduce Kids to Missions. Bill Emeott shares three ways to introduce the concept of missions with your kids.
  • Use the model Jesus provided to create missions interest with kids.
  • Encourage kids to be actively involved. Kids learn more by doing than just seeing or hearing.

Remember kids will be as excited as you are. Isn’t the Great Commission worthy getting excited about?

Why Missions Study Should Be Included in Your VBS

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In addition to Bible study and a large-group experience we call Worship Rally, LifeWay’s VBS includes resources for crafts, recreation, music, missions and snacks. Each activity – including snacks – is designed to have a direct tie or application to both the Biblical passage and theme for each day.

Due to time restraints, space restrictions, or worker shortages, VBS leaders are often faced with the decision to trim back some of the traditional components of VBS. The first component to be chopped tends to be missions. But, before you start cutting consider these six reasons why missions study should be included in your VBS.

1. An emphasis on missions results in decisions for vocational ministry. As a result of VBS – and specifically mission studies – approximately 2,500 kids, teens and adults make decisions each year to pursue careers in vocational ministries such as pastors and missionaries.

2. An emphasis on missions challenges kids to think outside of themselves and their community. During VBS mission studies kids are exposed to people, cultures and needs outside of their known world and are challenged to think globally. Kids are challenged to realize the world does not revolve around them individually.

3. An emphasis on missions provides kids with examples of Believers living out their faith. During VBS mission studies kids meet missionary families who are following God’s call to “make disciples of all nations.” Through the practical experiences and stories of real-life missionaries, kids are challenged to become missionaries themselves and see every place they go – including school and the park – as their mission field.

4. An emphasis on missions connects VBS with other ministries and mission endeavors of the church. Quiet often kids – even kids who attend church every week – are unaware of the outreach and benevolence ministries of their church. Through VBS mission studies kids get a glimpse into the far-reaching impact the church has on their community and the world. Kids are challenged to not just be the recipients of ministry but to also be providers of ministry.

5. An emphasis on missions provides an opportunity for kids to participate in hands-on projects and to give of themselves and their money. Kids love to create, get involved, and do something with their hands that makes a difference. VBS mission projects gives them an opportunity to put their talents and energy to productive use and experience the fun of helping others.

6. An emphasis on missions shows kids they do not have to wait to be adults to make a difference. As already stated, kids love to get involved, but are often told – either through actions or implications – they must wait until they are adults to make a true difference. VBS mission studies challenges kids to make a difference now, where they are, and with the resources they have.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves you as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist. A little known fact about Jerry – upon leaving his church staff position in 2006, the church (Park Place Baptist Church, Houston) commissioned him as a missionary to LifeWay Christian Resources and the world beyond.