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.

 

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.

 

 

The Journey of a Lifetime

LifeWay’s Journey Off the Map VBS will truly be the journey of a lifetime! Each location is filled with dramatic sights and amazing color. We have combed the Globe in search of God’s most amazing creations and have found some extremely unique plants and rock formations which have been incorporated into the theme to create the most amazing rotation sites ever. Plus, what kid would love the adventure of living and learning in a treehouse? Here is a quick peek at what you will discover on this journey of a lifetime.

Tangled Branch Tree House (Bible Study)

 VBS15_ThemePoster_Treehouse

Shady Grove (Crafts)

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Boulder Bridge (Missions)

VBS15_Theme_Poster_Bridge

Rushing Waters (Music)

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Rappelling Ravine (Recreation)

 VBS15_Theme_Ravine_Poster

Survival Springs (Snacks)

VBS15_POSTER_Survival_Springs

 

 

The Journey to VBS 2015 Begins!

Journey Off The Map™

GIG Visual pg master

 

Set out on a journey to uncharted territory where kids will encounter the unexpected waiting around every bend. Imagine discovering new plants, flowers, or trees and seeing amazing scenery from brand new vantage points. What excitement! Sounds beautiful, right?

 

In 2015 God has led us to take our content outline a little “off the map.” We jump in with both feet on Day 1 by introducing Jesus as our ultimate Guide and sharing how to have a personal relationship with Him. On Days 2–4 kids will explore stories from the Book of Daniel. These Bible stories show how Daniel and his friends followed God as their Guide. Kids can discover from these examples how to follow Jesus as their Guide. On Day 5 kids will learn that, even though the journey may be unknown to us, it is known to Him. The vision God gave Daniel and the promises Jesus made to His disciples give all of us hope for now and forever.

 

Just as Daniel and his friends stepped into uncharted territory and found that God still had a plan, kids can begin to understand that obedience to God does not always lead to the expected. The journey of a lifetime begins with an exciting relationship with Jesus that continues into eternity. Whenever faced with the unexpected, kids can know to listen for God’s command: “This is the way. Walk in it.”

 

Bible Content Point of the Week

God is faithful. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, he walks with us along the journey of becoming more like Him. God’s story of redemption includes the promise of eternity with Him. Our faithfulness to God is important to insure that the relationship grows as we journey with Him.

Day 1 Know Your Guide

Jesus’ birth was announced and angels declared that He is the Messiah. Jesus spent time teaching and healing people. He died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day He arose. Jesus is our ultimate Guide. (Galatians 4:4–5; Luke 2:8–11; Matthew 4:23–25; 1 Corinthians 15:3–5)

 

Day 2 Follow Your Guide

Daniel and his friends were among the Jewish captives chosen to serve in King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. The food provided for the friends broke the laws God had given the Jewish people. Instead of breaking God’s laws, Daniel chose to follow his Guide and requested permission to be given vegetables and water instead. (Daniel 1)

 

Day 3 Trust Your Guide

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow and worship the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had built. As a result the three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace. They trusted God whether He chose to save them or allowed them to perish. God protected the three friends in the fire and they emerged unharmed. (Daniel 3)

 

Day 4 Stay On Track

Daniel consistently did what was right and kept his focus on God. Even when the king signed an edict that made it illegal to pray to anyone but the king, Daniel continued to pray openly to God. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den for refusing to pray to the king. God closed the lions’ mouths and rescued Daniel from the lions. (Daniel 6)

 

Day 5 Keep Watching

Daniel received a vision of things to come. Jesus also told His disciples about things to come. God tells believers to keep watching for Jesus’ return and to obey His Word. (Daniel 10:7–12; 12:13; John 14:1–4; Revelation 22:7)

 

Up next: The Journey of a Lifetime

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.

 

It’s Not Too Late to Plan a Backyard Kids Club

20140114-075705.jpgWhile it may be a little late to begin planning a full-fledge Vacation Bible School, it is definitely not too late to plan for one or more Backyard Kids Clubs (BKC).

In case you haven’t heard, Backyard Kids Clubs (also known as Backyard Bible Clubs) are an excellent way to expand the reach of your church and your VBS far beyond the neighborhoods directly surrounding the church campus.

Like VBS, BKCs are by nature evangelistic and create an excellent opportunity to connect families to the Gospel and to the church. But unlike Bible Schools that are designed for a large number of kids divided into age groupings (closely graded), BKCs are designed for 20 or fewer kids who typically met in one or two groups of multiple ages (broadly graded).

Because BKCs require fewer workers, resources and space, and are uniquely created to reach the families of a specific street or multi-housing community, they can be planned and promoted quickly. BKCs are a perfect add-on to your summer. In fact, many churches planning BKCs will also conduct a traditional VBS and use BKCs as a way to reach kids in sections of the community who can not easily travel to the church campus. (A congregation in Clarksville, Tennessee is planning one week of traditional VBS followed by 10 BKCs throughout the city.)

Not yet convinced that BKC is right for your church? Here are six ways to take VBS beyond the church walls and into the neighborhoods of your community.

1. Work with the managers of multi-housing communities (apartment complexes and mobile home parks) to conduct BKCs specifically for the kids of each community. Since BKCs can be conducted with as few as three or four workers, a congregation with 100 workers could potentially conduct as many as 25 BKCs simultaneously.

2. Challenge each adult small group or Sunday School class to conduct at least one BKC in the neighborhood of a group member. (A congregation in Dallas, Texas makes conducting a BKC an annual requirement of every home group.)

3. Enlist and train a group of older high school and collage students to serve as a summer mission team to conduct BKCs throughout the community. (A congregation in Kentucky has trained a student team and is making the team available to help area churches with VBS and BKC.)

4. Partner with area churches to conduct BKCs in city parks and recreation centers.

5. Partner with smaller-membership churches to provide workers for BKCs on their church campuses or in the surrounding neighborhoods.

6. Plan BKCs for Fall, Winter and Spring breaks. Several school districts I’m aware of now schedule two-week breaks. While families might not be looking for activities as structured as VBS, the informal atmosphere of BKC provides a perfect opportunity to gather neighborhood kids for recreation and Bible study.

LifeWay produces a fantastic resource designed for Backyard Kids Clubs that is part of the VBS 2014 Agency D3 resources.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist as well as VBS Director at Creekside Fellowship, a church plant in Castalian Springs, Tennessee, where LifeWay’s Backyard Kids Club resources are being used for the second year.

May 18 is National Day of Prayer for VBS

20140114-075705.jpgAs the headline to this post proclaims, this Sunday is the annual National Day of Prayer for VBS.

Each year, on the third Sunday of May, churches are encouraged to take time to pray not only for their own upcoming Vacation Bible Schools, but for churches down the street and around the world.

VBS continues to be an extremely successful evangelistic outreach, resulting in 80,000 plus professions of faith each year in the Southern Baptist Convention alone. In addition to the thousands of decisions to become followers of Jesus Christ, approximately 2,500 kids, teens and adults each year make public the decision to pursue a career in ministry. And if these numbers are not enough to celebrate, as a result of VBS churches collectively identify approximately 1,000,000 unchurched individuals annually.

Here are six opportunities to encourage your congregation and VBS team to join you in observance of the National Day of Prayer for VBS.

1. Create and distribute a call to prayer. List specific prayer requests for your own church and team as well as the VBS dates of neighboring churches.

2. Start the day early by asking your VBS team to join you for prayer prior to regularly scheduled activities.

3. Work with your pastor and worship leader to include prayer for VBS in the morning service.

4. Schedule an afternoon prayer walk through and around the buildings that will be used for VBS. After the team has prayed for your church, travel throughout the community stopping to pray for churches displaying VBS banners and signs.

5. Communicate with your congregation’s homebound members and ask them to pray at a specific time and for specific needs.

6. Invite your VBS leadership team to your home for an evening or after church prayer gathering.

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

Using Takin’ It Home CD to Connect with Parents

20140114-075705.jpg“We have not been successful connecting with the parents of kids attending VBS,” is a statement I often hear from pastors and VBS leaders. This has not been from lack of trying since most of us have tried a variety of methods from daily newsletters to offering Adult VBS classes.

With Agency D3 LifeWay has introduced a new resource called Takin’ It Home CD that is specifically designed to connect parents to the content and activities of each day.

In addition to the copy of the CD included in the VBS 2014 Jump Start Kit, the files are also available for free download at lifeway.com/vbs under the “About” tab. Both the CD and digital files can be reproduced to make one copy per family or as many as needed. A downloadable faceplate template is also available.

Takin’ It Home is a fun and interactive way to involve the entire family in reviewing the daily Bible passage and applications. By the end of the week parents will be encouraged to pray with their kids and discuss how they can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the church.

Here are six steps for using Takin’ It Home CD to connect with parents:

1. Prior to the first day of VBS make a copy of the CD for each family.

2. Share information about the CD during worker training. Play the CD or provide a copy for Bible study leaders so they can learn how the contents connects with the daily theme. Bible study leaders should encourage kids to get their parents to listen to the CD each day on the way home.

3. Distribute CDs at the close of the first day (or the first day a kid attends). An ideal way to insure each family receives a copy is to distribute CDs at parking lot exists.

4. Take a moment during Worship Rally and Bible Study to remind kids to encourage their parents to listen to the CD each day.

5. Send out an e-mail blast encouraging parents, if they have not already done so, to listen to the CD with their kids before bedtime.

6. Send a postcard-sized message home on the last day encouraging parents to listen to the bonus session that invites the family to return the Sunday following VBS. Be sure to include service times as well as contact information in case they have questions about the church or would like to talk to someone about their own relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist and as VBS Director at Creekside Fellowship in Castalian Springs, Tennessee.

6 Things Every Pastor Should Know About VBS

20140114-075705.jpgIf you know me at all you know I believe VBS is an all-church ministry.  VBS is a ministry that has the ability to reach the entire family and should be embraced by every age-group and ministry of the church. VBS continues to be one of the most successful outreach ministries conducted by most churches and typically results in approximately 80,000 professions of faith each year.

With the first big week of VBS 2014 just days away, it is critical for pastors to know and accept the vital role they have in assuring a successful VBS.

 

1. The Pastor sets the pace and level of enthusiasm. A congregation typically mirrors the attitude and priorities of the pastor. When the pastor exhibits personal support for VBS and makes it a priority the congregation will typically do the same.

2. The Pastor is the team coach. While the VBS Director may be tasked with leading the logistical aspects of VBS, the pastor is the coach. He challenges, inspires, trains, and leads by example.

3. The Pastor is the head cheerleader. VBS requires a team, and like all teams they perform best when encouraged, appreciated and celebrated. Pastors have the best platform of all (the pulpit) to cheer on the team.

4. The Pastor inspires by his presence. VBS is not the week for the pastor to hole up in his office or take vacation. He needs to be on the parking lot, in the registration area, involved in the Worship Rally, wondering the halls, and in the classrooms. Workers need to see the pastor as a committed member of the team. Kids need to see the pastor as caring and approachable. Parents need to see the pastor as someone who is personally interested in them and their children.

5. The Pastor leads the charge to continue connections with unchurched families. Collectively we annually identify approximately one million unchurched individuals through VBS. Approximately ten percent of everyone attending VBS admits to being unchurched, and when parents and other siblings are added in that number is approximately 40 people for every church conducting VBS. While the pastor should not be expected to be solely responsible for continuing connections (follow-up) he should lead the way!

6. The Pastor is the primary storyteller. VBS results in tremendous stories of transformation, opportunities, and discovered abilities. Telling these stories is part of making VBS an all-church ministry and involves the congregation in celebrating the success of the week. As the pastor shares the stories of VBS he builds support and becomes the primary recruiter for next year.

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