VBS by the Numbers

wooley1 2013It has taken a little longer than usual, but we finally have numbers from VBS 2012. Yep, you read it correctly – 2012.

We always run a year behind in the numbers department to allow time for every church to submit there VBS data. For 2012 a total of 28,187 churches and missions reported hosting either a traditional VBS, and Backyard Kids Club, a mission VBS, or a combination of all three. This is a tremendous increase of 3,246 more Bible schools than 2011, and the largest number of schools since 2004!

A grand total of 2,759,014 kids, students, adults and workers enrolled and there were 79,588 professions of faith! These are numbers to celebrate!

There were also 2,411 people who publicly announced their intention to respond to God’s call for vocational ministry. This is an increase over 2011 of 130 people. VBS is – or at least should be – extremely evangelistic, but the missions rotation component has been used in a mighty way to connect people of all ages with ways they can personally be on mission in their communities and abroad. Since 2004 alone, 19,349 individuals have committed themselves to full-time ministry as a result of VBS. Today many of these individuals are involved in VBS and other ministries around the world.

However, a deeper look shows that both enrollment and professions of faith are slightly lower than 2011 even though an additional 3,246 schools were conducted. The average enrollment of 113 per school dropped to 97 per school. This is not necessarily a bad thing since the reports reflect an increase in the number of churches conducting Backyard Kids Clubs, which by their nature would have smaller attendance.

A surprising shift to a trend that has been increasing for over a decade was the number of churches that returned to morning Bible schools.  Sixty percent of churches reported an evening school, but this is down from the 67 percent reported for 2011. Based on a upward trend I had predicted that 70 percent of 2012 Bible schools would have been conducted in the evening. It is going to be interesting to see what happens to this number for 2013.

Thank you for taking the time to submit a Church VBS Report form. Each year we mail out 48,000 forms plus provide one in the Administrative Guide for Directors. Like an annual physical, this data diagnoses the health of VBS as well as helps us at LifeWay prepare resources that corresponds with changing trends. VBS continues to be the largest evangelistic outreach collectively conducted by churches. We can definitely say Yes! to VBS!

Catch a Connecting Flight with Parents of VBS Kids

ImageWhile your Amazing Wonders Aviation flight has probably landed, your bags are unpacked, and you are already dreaming about your VBS 2013 destination, some essential follow-up can still take off for 2012. Candace offered some great follow-up suggestions last Wednesday at http://lifewayvbs.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/vbs-follow-up/.

Here’s another great way to consider connecting specifically with the parents of VBS kids. If your church did not purchase the VBS 2012 Family Flight Log Parent Guide: Logging Time Together to Discover God’s Amazing Power! (005404243), mailing a copy of this small “flight log” that reinforces the Amazing truths kids learned about God’s power can be a great way to connect with parents.

The guide contains five daily devotions for families, fun activities to do as a family, and the ABCs of Becoming a Christian. It’s a great way for parents to reinforce what kids learned during VBS, and it’s an excellent opportunity for churches to let parents know they care about their kids and them as a family. The guide is an inexpensive way, priced at $3.49 for a package of 10, to connect with parents as the summer comes to a close and families begin to get back in normal routines.

Visit your local LifeWay Christian Store soon while VBS supplies are still available and purchase enough packages to send to all your VBS kids. Don’t miss this opportunity to make another connecting flight on AWA airlines!

Foto Friday!

The summer is beginning to wind down, but that hasn’t slowed down the photo-sharing!  Many churches are still in the midst of VBS, so the pictures just keep coming!  Big church or little church, it’s really cool to see how God uses VBS in so many different ways to convey one simple message:  Jesus saves.  I’m so excited to share another round of VBS 2012 photos with you!

Fanny Grote shared these photos from East Shore Baptist Church, Harrisburg, PA. They used VBS materials while on their mission trip to Jamaica! They reported 6 decisions for Christ from their VBS.

Another great photo from East Shore Baptist Church, Harrisburg, PA who used VBS materials on their trip to Jamaica!

Sally Crank shared this photo from water day at Sparks Christian Fellowship in Sparks, NV. “Our Amazing Wonders week was July 9-12, 2012. We ended with 193 kids and 161 volunteers. It was an amazing week full of Gods awesome power!!! The kids had a ball, the volunteers went above and beyond. Cant wait until next year!! It is definitely my favorite week of the summer!!”

DezaRay shared this photo from New Pilgrim Baptist Church, Salt Lake City, Utah. I thought it was so creative of them to decorate outside for recreation! How creative! “We had an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G time decorating in and outside our church for VBS!”

Neal Cox shared this photo of an AWA plane at The Bible Temple in Coward SC. “The plane is made from insulation foam and covered with conact paper and is assembled like a giant balsa plane.”  Very cool!

Cathy Mattingly and Brenda Nelson, co-directors of VBS at West Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, KY shared that they included radio-controlled airplane flight simulator training with their Amazing Wonders Aviation VBS. WOW! Cathy said the kids had an absolute blast!!

Here’s another fun photo from Cathy and Brenda at West Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.  Love that propellor! 

Marsha Henderson from Bear Creek Baptist Church in Houston, TX shared this photo with us. “Here is our version of the Great Barrier Reef. We had such a great week with over 1000 kids. 100 kids accepted Christ as their Savior!!!! Can’t wait till next year!!!!”

Here’s a teaser for next week. I can’t wait to share all the photos from Church on the Queensway in Toronto Ontario, Canada– a church that does VBS REALLY BIG!

 

If you’d like to share your VBS photos and stores, post them to our Facebook page, or send them to me in an email at katie.decillo@lifeway.com.  Make sure you include the name of your church and a description of the photo!  Image size must be a minimum of 1024×678 in order to be shared on the blog.  Happy weekend!

Foto Friday!

It’s Friday, Friday, Friday!  I love Fridays, but I also really love Mondays because I usually return to work and open an inbox full of pictures and stories from YOU about your week of VBS!  Please continue to share those!  I never tire of being reminded of how God uses the ministry of Vacation Bible School to bring others to Himself.  Here are a few of this week’s pictures!

This plane is sitting outside New Life Assembly of God in Landisburg, PA. Their VBS was this week- July 23-27th. The photo was submitted us by Lisa Moyer who said the plane attracted lots of attention!

Water of Life Community Church in Fontana California built a two level spotting tower next to their hanger with a 1/3 scale Electra-10 (Amelia Earhart’s Plane) flying over the first few rows.

Make sure you click to view the full-size version of this photo. It was sent to us by Julie Monroe from Forestville Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. “We chose to decorate our Worship Rally a little bit differently; we re-created 5 of the 6 wonders for our Main Stage! My mother Carol and I spent the past 6 months working on the wonders and it was AMAZING FUN!”

This Worship Rally Hangar photo was sent to us by Amy Dillard of Union #3 Baptist Church in Ball Play, AL.

This is one of my favorite pictures! Anderson Bond has taken his VBS airplane to 5 different churches to excite hundreds of kids about Amazing Wonders Aviation Vacation Bible School!

Here’s an Amazing Wonders Aviation VBS setup from Richmond Hill Baptist Church in Boonville, NC. They had a total enrollment of around 180 with an average attendance of 140. Not pictured, they used an actual wooden propeller of a crashed plane to get kids excited as they enter the Worship Rally Hangar!

This photo was sent to us from Chris Crosswhite at Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Newcastle, OK. The hangar was hand painted by a wonderful lady at the church and in the lower left corner, she even included snoopy and his house.  The propeller on the plane rotated, and the plane and the air traffic control tower were used for puppets of Bill Rogers and Amelia Erhart!

Wild things can happen when you say Yes to VBS! Jason McNair and Geek of the Week Debbie Chidester got “sundae’d” as part of Family Night at First Baptist Church of West Valley City. Congratulations, kids, for bringing in a combined weight of over 80 lbs of pennies and over 800 items for missionaries in Alaska!

If you’d like to share your VBS photos and stories, feel free to post them to our Facebook page, or send them to me in an email at katie.decillo@lifeway.com.  Make sure you include the name of your church and a description of the photo!  Image size must be a minimum of 1024×678 in order to be shared on the blog!

YOUR VBS Stories!

A few weeks ago, I asked you to share some of your wonderful VBS stories.  Here are LifeWay headquarters, we are constantly encouraged when we hear stories of how God is using His people and the ministry of Vacation Bible School to make the name of Jesus famous all over the world!  No doubt, you are encouraged by those kids of stories, as well.  Please continue to share them with us as your church wraps up VBS 2012!

Sandy Harkins, FBC Canton, TX:

Our VBS was last week, June 11-15. We had 215 children registered for our “Amazing Wonders Aviation”. The children loved Worship Rally time. We averaged 182 children. Our high attendance was on Wednesday with 195! We had 23 professions of faith! What a wonderful week we experienced. This was the largest attendance for VBS in about 5 years!!

Peggy Banks, Chester, SC:

God showed up and showed out at our VBS in Chester SC at New Life Baptist Church Chester SC. We are a very small church but averaged 30 a night. Awesome God! Amazing power! We have gotten one family that has been to our Sunday service for the past two weeks since VBS. Praise God! If only one it is worth it all. God is so Good and I love Lifeway material. Thanks for being obedient to God’s calling and for listening when He speaks. Praise God form Whom ALL blessings flow!

Jessica Vass:

Our VBS was last week. I helped my mom teach the 10-11′s and I taught Missions. We had an awesome week with an average 107 attendance. On Wednesday night, we had one girl get saved! That same girl brought her friend with her Thursday and Friday. Her friend got saved Friday night! God is so good!! We could tell a big difference in the two boys that got saved last year. God is really working.

Leslie Johnstone, Holly Springs Baptist Church- Garrison TX:

VBS was beyond AMAZING!!! We averaged between 100-115 each night and had tons of workers helping. We did ours at night from 5:30-8:30 and started it with a Family Fun Night on Saturday. This helped with getting kids registered early. We had VBS for the kids who finished Kinder-3rd grade and we did VBX for the kids who finished 4th-6th. THAT WAS AWESOME!!

The VBX kids loved owning their own area, playing different games, and doing different crafts that were more age appropriate for them. In fact, we tied Missions into Crafts for VBX. They painted canvases that were put into a silent auction on the Sunday following VBS. It raised over $1000 for our missionary in Africa!!! I couldn’t believe it! God is so good!

But the best part was night 4- The salvation message where we had over 20 kids either check on their Response Card that they had questions or were ready to ask Jesus into their heart. We put a counseling team together and talked to those kids throughout the last evening and I was able to see 14 kids accept Jesus into their hearts!!!! Awesome!!!!!! God is so good!!!!

 

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

VBS 2014? Really?

Believe it or not, LifeWay’s VBS team is already thinking 2014!

Now you know why I am constantly in danger of post-dating checks a year or two in advance! Seriously, scheduled online payment of my utility bills only to receive past due notices on them all. It seems I was living a year – a hazard of all VBS Groupies – in advance and dated payments with the wrong year.

At any one time I am collecting VBS reports from the previous year, responding to VBS questions from the current year, planning VBS events for the next year, and dreaming VBS for two years away. This is truly the best job in the world!

Now, to the real topic of this post – VBS Missions Rotation.

As many of you are in the midst of VBS 2012, and as we begin planning for VBS 2014, I am interested in how you use LifeWay’s Missions Rotation resources for both preschoolers and children.

  • If your church does not include the Mission Rotation, why not?
  • If you do not use them during VBS, do you use them at another time or in conjunction with another ministry? Explain.
  • If you do use the resources, what do you most like about them?
  • What would you like to see changed?
  • How do you incorporate the suggested hands-on mission project?
  • How could the hands-on project be more effective for your church?

You can respond here or send your comments and suggestions to me at jerry.wooley@lifeway.com.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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!