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!

From the Archives: “Preparing for VBS” Part 1

wooley1 2013September 1, 1924 was a big day in the history of Vacation Bible School. It was the official start of LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Department. The department as such no longer exist, but the ministry of publishing VBS curriculum and training church leaders to use it is bigger and better than ever.

From time to time, over the next year, I’m going back to the archives to not only honor our past but to glean insight and wisdom from the ages.

Today’s wisdom comes from a 1997 training outline titled: 62 Ways to Prepare Yourself for A Galactic Good News Adventure. While some of the ideas were specific to the theme, here are six reminders that apply every year.

1. Pray (without ceasing).

2. Learn the Worship Rally music in advance by listening to its while running errands and picking up VBS supplies.

3. Enlist someone to be your personal VBS prayer partner.

4. Pray for the children, youth, and adults who will accept Jesus as Savior and Lord during VBS.

5. Ask someone who became a Christian during a previous VBS to share his/her story with you.

6. Keep a “To Do List” handy to jot down middle-of-the-night inspirations.

Trivia for the day: both Rhonda Van Cleave (VBS publishing team leader) and I served on the think tank that created A Galactic Good News Adventure. It was our first time to work together.

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.

 

Involving Teenagers as Leaders in VBS

20140114-075705.jpgMy first VBS “worker” assignment was at the ripe old age of 12. My aunt was the teacher of the five-year-old class and she desperately needed a helper. We conducted VBS in the morning, ate a sandwich, and then spent the afternoon getting ready for the next day. We had 10 kids in an 80-square-foot room. For me the week was a huge lesson in flexibility!

While using teenagers – or in my case a pre-teenager – is not ideal for multiple reasons, mature teenagers can be the solution to a worker shortage, plus the week is an excellent opportunity for teens to begin serving and exploring their gifts and interest. Following are six tips to involving teenagers as leaders in VBS .

 

1. Training is of utmost importance. Failure to train results in frustration for teenagers and adult workers alike.

2. Training begins with the enlistment process. Establish expectations and accountability early and clearly.

3. Make sure teens are looked upon as full members of the team. If teens are mature enough to be enlisted for the team they are mature enough to be treated and respected as a member of the team.

4. Teens are more likely to become discipline problems when they are not given meaningful ministry tasks and the opportunity to contribute to the team.

5. Adult members of the team should assume a mentoring mentality as they work along side the teen leader, respecting the teen’s ability to make decisions with some guidance.

6. Give teens opportunities to grow and stretch in their abilities. With a little discretion on the adult leader’s part, teens should be allowed to experience what are sometimes seen as “adult” roles.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, serves on LifeWay’s VBS Team as a Ministry Specialist responsible for training and events.

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.