Foto Friday!

Katie here- filling in for Keith for a few weeks while he works hard on lots of fun things for you guys!

We’ve gotten to see so many AMAZING VBS decorations over on our Facebook page– submitted by you guys! Here are a few reader-submitted Worship Rally Hangar Photos!

Shiloh Baptist Church!

Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria, LA. They had parts of a REAL plane!

First Baptist Bethany, Bethany, OK

First Baptist Church, Texas City

Bat Cave Baptist Church!

WOW!  I’m impressed by all this hard work!  If you have photos from your VBS this summer, please share them with us on Facebook or email them to me at katie.decillo@lifeway.com!

Say Y-E-S to Preschool V-B-S!

VBS season is in full swing & while all of you have been gearing up for VBS in your churches, all of us on the VBS team have been doing the same thing! It is so wonderful to get to experience VBS “from the trenches”… not as a job but as Kingdom work! I taught kindergartners this year… 31 of them, in fact! Out of those 31, only 7 were from my church. VBS really is an incredible outreach tool!

This year, my church tried something a little bit different. We added a second worship rally to our schedule that was specifically for preschoolers & kindergartners. The morning kicked off for 1st-6th graders with the traditional Worship Rally, but preschoolers started the morning in their respective rooms. Then at 9:40 (when all of the big kids had cleared out), we got to fly in for a worship rally designed just for us! We had a fabulous leader who basically modified the preschool music rotation teaching plans so that we could sing songs, play instruments, move around, and talk about the daily Bible stories in ways that just wouldn’t fly if preteens were in the room. But it was perfect for preschoolers! We even had time for offerings and practicing the theme song each day.

The kids’ favorite song from the week had to be one called “Always”… and it played a significant part in one of my all-time favorite VBS memories. The song lyrics are almost identical to preschool’s Day 2 verse: “Be strong. Do not be afraid. God is with you” (Joshua 1:9). On Wednesday morning one of my kindergartners came in the door and walked straight to me. “Miss Melita,” she said, “last night at bedtime I got kind of scared. But then I remembered that song. I sang it to myself probably 4-20 times. And you know what? It worked! God was with me, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”

WOW! A 6-year-old child connected the truth of the Bible to a real life situation because she had “hidden it in her heart” through song. Wow! That’s what it’s all about!

Here’s a little video of “Always” from our preschool worship rally. And if you’re really good, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Gordon, too! Enjoy!

Always — preschool worship rally

Easy Peasy 2012 VBS Director's Evaluations

I know you’ve just seen months of planning come to fruition and all you really want to to is sit back and relax. But if you could, do one more thing. Just one and I promise to make it as easy as possible.

We want to hear from you. Please fill out the VBS Director’s Evaluations online here or you can complete a paper copy from the 2012 Administrative Guide and mail it in to the address on the form. That’s it! Easy peasy, right? And I promise I will read every one and pass along all your comments, thoughts, and suggestions to the VBS team to help us evaluate what you need for VBS to be easy for you.

Front Yard, Backyard, and All Around the House!

From my years as an older teenager and young adult, I remember being involved in several VBS-type ministries known as Backyard Bible Clubs and Big A Clubs. These clubs were a simplified or scaled-down version of VBS and were an effective way of reaching families – many of which would never attend an event on a church campus.

During all the years since, the concept of Backyard Bible Club (BBC for short) has survived mostly in connection to mission trips. But a new wind is blowing, and the concept of BBCs is experiencing revival all across the country – especially by larger congregations that have a regional influence beyond an individual neighborhood or community.

Once it was thought that BBCs were staffed by a couple of people and primarily attended by a dozen or so kids who lived within view of the designated yard. This trend is changing as more and more BBCs are becoming evangelistic outposts for entire neighborhoods.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting a BBC not far from my own neighborhood. Four years ago the Club registered approximately 12. The next year, 20. Around 40 the third year. And this year – drum roll please – over 60 kids and adults descended nightly on the front yard, backyard, garage, and bonus room of the Nashville area home of Vicki Hulsey.

While Miss Vicki (all polite Southern children refer to their female neighbors as “Miss”) generously opens her home for the annual BBC, she has extended the evangelistic potential by gathering the children and their families throughout the year for other neighborhood activities and parties. Her home has become a true outpost of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church.

This story is phenomenal so stay turned for more.

For now I would like to hear your BBC stories. You can share them here or send them to me at jerry.wooley@lifeway.com.

In 2013 we are introducing Backyard Kids Club as a new component to Colossal Coaster World. We will be telling you more about this exciting ministry resource in days to come. So again, stay tuned!

Shirttail Tag Anyone?

It is often assumed that as the vbsguy I obviously direct VBS at my church – Nashville’s Inglewood Baptist Church – but actually I haven’t been a VBS director in more years than I care to count.

During my 20 plus years on church staff I had ultimate responsibility for VBS, but usually had a volunteer VBS director. For most of those years, which were spent at Park Place Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, the director was Dava Donaho, who taught me most of what I know about efficiently organizing and managing the details of VBS.

Since moving to Nashville in 2006, I have participated in VBS by mostly serving as an assistant teacher or helper. This has given me a great opportunity to experience VBS and LifeWay’s curriculum from many vantage points.

In the past six years I have served multiple times as the teacher for adult VBS, on the security team for youth VBS, served as a helper/group leader in VBX, a co-teacher in 1st-2nd Grade Bible Study, and this year the most fun assignment of all – co-leader for recreation! Shirttail Tag! Paper Plane Relay!

Thought you might enjoy a few pictures from our rainy-evening retreat indoors, where recreation included Great Barrier Reef cupcakes and a highly competitive paper plane relay.

Wonder what my assignment will be next year????

Now Back to 2012!

Yesterday we had great fun revealing Colossal Coaster World, the hair raising theme for VBS 2013. I heard from many of you who are already planning “research” trips (a.k.a. family adventures) to amusement parks to prep. I have visited a couple myself in the past few months – purely for “research” mind you – and hope to visit one or two more by the time we introduce the theme for VBS 2014! So little time, so many roller coasters to ride!

But before we get too carried away with VBS 2013 we need to fly back to VBS 2012. More Bible schools will be held this week than any other week of the year. This means in the next few days I will start receiving thousands of VBS Reports. Actually, I have already received a few from churches holding VBS during Spring break.

Each year we mail a personalized VBS Report form to every church in the Southern Baptist Convention – some 46,000 plus. The 2012 Report Form was mailed out last week and should be arriving at your church any day now. WATCH FOR IT!

This form will already have your church name, address, and Southern Baptist Directory Services (SBDS) identification number and password. Using the ID and password you can enter your VBS information directly into the SBDS reporting system. You can also use the provided contact information to mail or FAX your completed report form.

This report is a Southern Baptist Convention report and not a LifeWay report. We encourage you to report your VBS whether you use curriculum from LifeWay, another publisher, or create your own. We also encourage you to report your VBS even if you call it something other than VBS.

In the event you can not locate the personalized report form you can always use the one provided in the Administrative Guide for Directors.

The data from this report helps us evaluate the effectiveness of the VBS ministry. Did you know VBS has been around for over 100 years and is still the largest outreach ministry conducted by most churches.

Thanks for all you do to promote the life changing ministry of VBS, and I look forward to reading your report!

VBS in a Cemetery? Now that experiential!

So, have you given much thought to conducting VBS for youth? I sure hope so because VBS is not only a great way to tell teens about Jesus Christ, but it is a unique opportunity to have an unexpected adventure in the process.

Sue Harmon, tireless VBS promoter for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, shared the following note from Laura Owens of Westminster Baptist Church, Westminster, South Carolina.

“I wanted to share with you how our Youth-Style VBS went during Spring Break. We had a great, although exhausting week! I didn’t think it was possible to wear out middle school boys but I did! We averaged 12 youth and adults through the week, which worked great for transportation and for Bible study discussions.

On Monday of the week we picnicked at Issaqueena Falls and acted out the parting of the Red Sea using blue tablecloths. The youth then painted rocks to remind them of God’s power over creation.

On Tuesday we went to the Greenville Zoo as we learned about Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Unfortunately, the lions were sleeping and not very threatening, but we were able to pose with some bronze lions. The boys also loved mimicking the monkeys!

On Wednesday we held Bible study in the middle of a creek with youth sitting on both sides of the river bank. The idea was to show that sin separates us from God just like they were separated from their friends as they sat on opposite banks. At the end of the lesson I walked across a bridge above the river to demonstrate that Jesus is our bridge and connection to God.

Our recreation activity was an egg toss, which spread partners farther apart just as sin separates us from God and makes it difficult for us to have a growing relationship with Him.

On Thursday we went to a nearby cemetery to discuss the resurrection of Jesus. We also talked about what will happen when we die for those who are believers and for those who are not. The students were a little uneasy about being in a cemetery, but it provided the perfect backdrop for discussing God’s power over death.

On Friday we held our final Bible study at the church as we discussed ways God wants to use our lives for His glory.

Our week culminated with a trip to Stone Mountain, Georgia, where we watched a different kind of light show on the side of a granite rock.

Our youth were also able to make several decorations for the children’s VBS week which thrilled our children’s teachers since it is one less thing for them to worry about.

Our youth also marked their Bibles with step-by-step instructions on how to lead a child to Christ, which I pray they will get an opportunity to use during school or this summer during Children’s VBS.

The week was truly incredible, and was a great bonding experience for the youth who had recently joined our youth group.”

To discover more about this incredible experiential VBS, check out “A Fresh Take on Youth VBS” from the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Special thanks to Sue for sharing this great story.

Foto Friday. . . Graduation and VBS

Wow, what a season this is! Kids are getting out of school for the summer, graduations are happening and VBS’s are gearing up.

Speaking of graduations, I had one last night. Actually my daughter (Sadie) had her graduation last night. . .graduation from preschool! It’s was a fun and sad time for me. Here’s my baby girl, my only child, graduating from preschool and getting ready to start school!

So, I start thinking about her future teachers and how they will have an impact on her life. How they will help her learn to read, write and do arithmetic. Some of my favorite teachers were the tough ones!

I also think about her future Sunday School teachers and all that they will teach her. . .learning about our Lord and Savior, Jesus. I think back to when I taught 7th grade Sunday School and one of my first SS kids, Steven (he goes by Steve now). Steve came every Sunday and he was a great kid! He now is all grown up and has a family of his own and has a calling to help dads be more Godly.

I also start thinking about her future VBS teachers and what all they will teach her and how much of an impact they will have on her. Some of my fondest memories are from when I attended VBS at First Baptist Church, Millington. . .and when I helped teach VBS as a youth at FBC, Millington.

So, as a daddy, I would like to thank all the teachers (present and future). . .school, Sunday School and VBS teachers for taking time to encourage, love, and teach my daughter!

Thank You!

Northern Lights – God's Amazing Wonder

One of the most interesting of God’s amazing wonders being visited during VBS 2012 surely must be the Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis.

Elusive to most, difficult to describe, and almost impossible to explain, yet one of God’s greatest reminders of His power, creativity, and attention to detail.

Using time-lapse photography, NASA has provided a stunning view from the International Space Station as God turns the night sky into one of His amazing wonders. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Jeremy Echols for sharing this information.