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.

 

 

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.

 

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.