VBS in Sidney (not Sydney)

Here’s a great Facts and Trends article by Polly House on Vacation Bible School at Sidney Baptist Church in Sidney, Arkansas!

You’ll want to check out the pictures and video on Facts and Trends Online.

SIDNEY, Ark., 7/9/09 – It’s not Sydney, Australia, but it is Sidney, Ark.

VBS Director Jennifer Shaw and her crew of volunteers at Sidney Baptist Church took the Boomerang Express Vacation Bible School theme to heart and offered children, youth and adults of their small northern Arkansas community the opportunity to learn about Jesus through LifeWay Christian Resources’ Aussie-themed VBS curriculum.

Sidney is small – the population is about 250, and that includes people who don’t live in the town proper. But that statistic doesn’t even come up when Shaw and her volunteers talk about Vacation Bible School. They could list several reasons to not have VBS. After all, it is a challenge to host VBS in a small church, but Shaw and her team don’t whine or give excuses. They debunk them.

- Excuse 1: “Our community is too small and we don’t have enough kids.”

Sidney doesn’t have many kids either, but that provides an opportunity to reach out to the community. Sidney Baptist leaders encourage their church’s kids to invite their friends from all around the area. The ones who do, receive prizes.

- Excuse 2: “We don’t have enough workers to plan every detail for VBS.”

So what? Shaw used the VBS Super Sampler and said she had just about everything she needed, including instructions and suggestions. She ordered posters, inflatables and other items that made decorating easy. She handed off the appropriate information to the grade- level workers, the “snack ladies,” the audiovisual coordinator, the music leader and others. They all took care of their responsibilities and let Shaw know if they needed her help.

- Excuse 3: “There aren’t enough snack, craft or other ideas to keep kids busy, and they get restless.”

Sidney handles this by using ideas provided with the curriculum along with some original theme-centered ideas. For instance, a craft teacher at Sidney Baptist recycled the cardboard mailing tubes from the VBS posters and used them to make Aboriginal rain sticks.

It helps to have an experienced leader heading up the crafts. Joyce Hancock has served with VBS for 43 years. She knows what the kids like and how to customize craft ideas to appeal to them. “You have to make sure there is plenty for them to work on,” she said.

- Excuse 4: “We are concerned about security when the children leave. It’s too hard to keep up with them.”

You should be security-conscious. At Sidney, Shaw had every class return to the sanctuary for a 10-minute closing session. She had a prize giveaway, read announcements and offered a closing prayer. This time also allowed her to account for everyone. After that, children were dismissed to the person picking them up, and it wasn’t a free-for-all in the parking lot. Shaw knew every child was safely on his or her way home, and she didn’t have to worry about anyone being left behind.

- Excuse 5: “Our children and adults don’t have time to memorize all the songs and drama for our parents’ program, so we just don’t do one.”

Alana Green is the VBS music queen at Sidney Baptist Church. She’s also a certified financial planner who understands a good plan. She knows that memorizing all the words to the songs and the drama for the parents’ program is difficult, so she came up with a simple plan. On family night, a screen is placed at the back of the church so everyone on stage can see the words. Green said this relieved the actors’ anxiety and helped the singers feel more confident.

- Excuse 6: “We are a very creative church and we don’t want to do VBS ‘by the book’ like everyone else.”

VBS is all about being creative in telling children, students and adults the Good News of Jesus Christ. God is a God of creativity! Start with a VBS Sampler then find ways to personalize the program for your church.

Green said that several years ago she saw a white-gloved group use sign language and motions while singing under a black light. She liked the idea and, for the past few years, the youth and some older children have performed one of the slower VBS songs in the dark with glowing hands. She said the audience looks forward to that song because it’s different and fun. It’s not “by the book,” but it’s special to them.

At Sidney, they get creative with the snacks, too. The “snack ladies” prepare themed snacks, like this year’s kangaroo tails (chocolate-dipped bananas on a stick), but they also prepare other snacks the children like. This year, they supplemented with homemade chocolate-dipped strawberries and even some veggie-stuffed squash fresh from the garden.

In a small church like Sidney Baptist, the workers aren’t many, but each one has a heart for VBS. They look forward to each summer and spend hours in planning and preparation.

Part of that preparation is being alert to opportunities for outreach to children and youth throughout the year. Shaw said one of the special things about working with VBS in a small community is the awareness that many people with whom she comes in contact are past or future attendees.

“We draw kids from all around the area,” she said. “When I see little kids at school or in town, they look at me and remember me from Bible School. It’s funny; they look at me like ‘I know you,’ and say they went to Bible School.”

Facts & Trends announces the 2009 VBS Photo Contest

Hey guys – here’s some information on the VBS 2009 Photo Contest!!!!

Boomerang Express and Club VBS: Truth Trek photos welcome!!

Facts & Trends Online (FTO) staff is once again inviting churches and individuals to submit photos for the annual Vacation Bible School Photo Contest. This year, all submissions will be archived at the LifeWay News page on Facebook, a social networking Web site.

Submissions of Boomerang Express and Club VBS: Truth Trek photos will be organized into photo albums labeled with geographical regions, so users can easily view nationwide photos of contest submissions.

Participants can enter photos by sending an e-mail to factsandtrends@lifeway.com. The e-mail should include a photo title, the name of the church represented, the church’s address in addition to the submitter’s name, phone number and e-mail address. All entries must be received by Monday, Aug. 3, to be eligible.

Each participant can submit up to two photos that meet the following criteria:
- 300 dpi.
- JPEG format.
- Features at least one VBS participant (pictures of only landscapes or decorations will not be accepted).
- Features either the Boomerang Express or Club VBS: Truth Trek themes.

Beginning with the first entries in early June, the photo albums at the LifeWay News page on Facebook will be updated every Tuesday and Thursday as needed to include the most recent photographs.

Facebook fans of the LifeWay News page are invited to comment on and “tag” the photos. FTO staff reserves the right to edit or delete any comments or tags. Fans will also receive a reminder to help choose the winning entry at the contest’s conclusion.
After Aug. 3, staff will narrow submissions to the top 10 entries and post those entries at LifeWay.com/factsandtrends for a public vote from Aug. 5-14. FTO staff, along with representatives from LifeWay’s VBS area, will name the Grand Prize winner on Monday, Aug. 24.

The winning photo will be featured in the Fall 2009 issue of Facts & Trends magazine and the church represented will receive a 2010 VBS Super Sampler Kit compliments of LifeWay’s VBS area.

Please note: Because photos will be posted online, users who submit photos must notify parents or legal guardians of minors photographed to ensure consent before submitting entries.

Visit LifeWay.com/FactsandTrends or the LifeWay News page on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the contest. Contest entries and questions can be submitted to facts&trends@lifeway.com.

Enter the VBS 2008 Photo Contest

Facts & Trends Online is inviting churches and individuals to submit photos for the 2008 VBS Photo Contest. This year, you get to help select the winning photo! But first things first, we need your submissions.

E-mail your best VBS 2008 shots to Facts&Trends@LifeWay.com by Friday, Aug. 1. Submissions received after this deadline or that do not meet the following criteria will not be eligible for the contest. Criteria are:

* 300 dpi
* JPEG format
* Sent as an attachment to the email, not embedded in the email
* No more than three photos per church
* Must include church name, city and state
* Must include at least one child in the photo
* Must feature one of the 2008 LifeWay VBS themes – Outrigger Island or Cactus Canyon

Facts & Trends Online staff will narrow the submissions to the top 30 photos, but you will determine the ultimate winner.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 4, visit Facts & Trends Online every Monday throughout the month to vote for your favorite photo for that week. During the first week of September, Facts & Trends Online will feature the winning photo from each week’s contest. Your votes during that week will decide the Grand Prize winner!

The winning photo will be featured in Facts & Trends magazine and the church will receive a 2009 VBS Sampler Kit.

Remember, deadline for submissions is Friday, Aug. 1, and all photos must fulfill the contest criteria.

Please note: Because photos will post online, the church must notify parents or legal guardians of minors photographed to ensure consent before submitting photos.

NOTE #2: Please send your photos as ATTACHMENTS. Do not embed them in the email. Photos that are embedded in the email cannot be used.

Good Luck!