Your Chance to be Part of VBS Think Tank 2015

This past weekend I completed my Fall VBS 2013 Jump Start traveling schedule. The past few weeks have found me in Arizona, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and Michigan helping church, associational, and state VBS leaders prepare for a Colossal Coaster World experience.

It is always fun to see how people (VBS Groupies) across the U.S. interpret a theme. Each location plays host to a variety of theme-related food, decorations, and costumes – which I think add the most unexpected touch of all.  It started me thinking – what if people wore theme-related costumes to VBS Previews? Talk about creating a fun atmosphere!

With just 39 days until the first Preview at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, I’m challenging all of you to make this the most entertaining Preview ever by showing up in a costume that shouts Colossal Coaster World!

Jerry and Roberta dressed as tacky tourists for our CCW theme release party.

Each event guest wearing a costume will receive a chance to be selected as a member of the VBS 2015 Think Tank team. This is the team that will create the 2015 theme! One Think Tank member and one alternate will be chosen from each of the five Previews. (An alternate is being chosen in case the team member is unavailable to attend Think Tank.)

Looking for costume ideas to get you started? Check out these great photos from our 2013 Theme Release party in June.

Click here to register for a Preview. Several locations are just about full so register today! You definitely want to be part of the fun! It just might be the most exciting ride of your life!

 Click here for official LifeWay Sweepstakes rules.

Hands-on Learning at the Preschool Missions Global Expo

Hey y’all, I’m writing today to tell you about something really neat for our 3s–Kindergartners this summer! The missions materials located in the VBS 2013 3s–Kindergarten Rotation Pack have been redesigned! We hope you will love the lessons as much as we do!

Kids will take a break from roller coasters and come to the Missions Global Expo to learn about the work of two missionary families—the Pillays in Norwich, Connecticut, and the Flooks in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. They also will experience some of the cultures of these locations.

Look for these new daily features!
—As kids enter the Global Expo, they will watch a short video clip of Shaun and Deshni Pillay, North American Mission Board missionaries serving in Norwich, Connecticut. These transplanted South Africans have come to the United States to tell people about Jesus Christ!

—After teachers divide kids into two groups, each group will experience some of the culture of Connecticut or Bolivia. They might “shop” at a Bolivian marketplace, play “Thunka,” or play “Red Light, Green Light” while pretending to drive a church van. These hands-on activities will get kids up and moving!

—Next, the two groups will swap so that everyone gets to try out both activities. Then kids will take a break and watch a short video clip featuring the work of International Mission Board missionaries Steve and Marilee Flook and their family, followed by prayer.

—One More Thing! This year’s hands-on mission project, “Colossal Care Kits,” is easy to do and will directly impact people in your area who are homeless, poor, or otherwise don’t have much. There are a couple of suggestions for distribution of these personal care kits.

So, why did we change the missions materials? That’s easy! First, we are so committed to helping preschoolers learn about the world around them and the need that people everywhere have for Jesus. And, we want to make learning about missions fun! Also, we want to make it so easy for your teachers that teaching these materials will be a priority! We hope you have great experiences this summer with your kids and missions!

Familiar Faces Coming Soon to a Worship Rally Near You

You never know what you might end up doing here at LifeWay VBS HQ. One day you’re just working away and the next thing you know, you’re being called in to help out on the video shoot for the Worship Rally dramas. Now our video producer, Lynne, is just about the nicest person you’ll ever meet, so when she calls… you come running! But I don’t think any of us knew how many people from LifeWay Kids’ Ministry actually made it INTO the videos until they came out.

Of course these are all cameo appearances… but I guess you could consider this our collective big screen debut. Be on the lookout for us in the Worship Rally videos this summer. Hope you enjoy this little sneak peek!

Angel Ortiz is the man behind all LifeWay Kids resources in Spanish. We are SO grateful to have him heading up the Spanish VBS team. Look for Angel and his lovely wife, Rosalía, as “the TV watching couple.”

James Hargrave’s day job is with 1st-2nd grade Sunday School (Bible Teaching for Kids). But it’s not uncommon to find this showman, magician, and all-around good guy lending a hand to the VBS team. James really loves VBS!

Richard VanCleave is married to our VBS team leader, Rhonda. He got tapped to play a lawyer, but we won’t hold that against him. Richard is actually an area pastor.

Lynne hates being on camera… so SSSHHH!!! Don’t tell her we put her picture up. Lynne looks pretty convincing as a boom operator, but she also served as the producer of these videos.

Here was my big break! See me? That’s my arm on the far right. Hollywood, here I come! A big thanks to Candace (the Queen of VBS), Landry Holmes (Kids Ministry Publishing managing director), and Jeremy (Kids Ministry graphic designer) for sharing the spotlight with me!

Surprise! There’s Gordon, one of our VBS graphic designers. Gordon whipped up the sign he’s holding in the picture and somehow ended up on camera when he delivered the sign to the site of the video shoot!

You’ll recognize Carol’s name from the many VBS products she edits, but her husband and son really earned their keep in a BIG way this year. They are responsible for the amazing toy roller coaster you will see featured in the video. Jeff and James spent TWO whole days constructing the roller coaster together… and still liked each other at the end!

Joyce Frazier’s name was mentioned on an earlier slide, but here she is sliding a t-shirt on the grand prize contest winner. I can’t tell you any more without spoiling the plot. You’ll just have to wait and see what’s going on here when you get the DVD!

Happy Birthday & Thanks for the Props

A birthday shout out goes out to my sweet son who is turning 13 today! Not only is today his birthday, but we are giving him a “thank you” shout out for helping with two of the props for the video drama for Colossal Coaster World. Yep, his dear ole mom roped him into putting together two roller coasters for the video this summer. Now in my defense when I volunteered him, I hadn’t seen the roller coasters, the 5,000 pieces that would need to go together, or the instruction books with no words just pictures. I just thought, “Hey, he likes to build things with legos this should be a piece of cake.” Well, two eight hour days and 5, 000 (or more) pieces later we had the finished products ready for the video shoot. Take a look at the following behind the scenes pictures of the work in progress.

Just the beginning!


Did I mention that I also wrangled his dad into helping?


Adding the finishing touches.


Final inspection.


Look for these “colossal” coasters in the video drama next summer.

And the Winners Are…

Several weeks ago our VBS blog guru, Katie, invited our faithful readers to become our guests at one of five VBS Previews being held in January and February. Readers were asked to respond with short statements explaining why they would like to attend.

As promised, we have randomly chosen someone for each of the five locations. And the winners are: Dakota Martin for Ridgecrest, January 11-12; Joyce C. for Fort Worth, January 18-19; Tina Spencer for Nashville 1, January 31 – February 1; Myra Elder for Nashville 2, February 1-2; and Dana Pendarvis for Kissimmee, February 8-9.

Congratulations to each of you! We are truly happy to have you joining us for Preview 2013. It is going to be a colossal experience!

Each of you are invited to bring one additional guest at no charge. To register for the event please contact me personally at I will need your name, address, e-mail address,  and phone number. I will need the same information for your friend.

As stated in the original blog post, this free offer covers event registration only and does not include travel, housing, or meals. If you have already registered for one of the events we can not refund your registration fee, but we can apply your free spot to a friend of your choice who has not already registered.

If your name has not already been mentioned hold on. The excitement is just beginning!

Sixty-two people responded, and each gave a great reason why he or she should be chosen. In fact, the submissions were so good we decided just this morning to name everyone a winner!

For everyone listed below we are offering one free registration with a paid registration. Basically, buy one and get one free. The free spots apply to registration fee only and does not include travel, housing, or meals. If you have already registered for one of the events we can not refund your registration fee, but we can apply your free spot to a friend of your choice who has not already registered.

And the winners for Ridgecrest, January 11- 12, are:

Stacey Griffith, Valerie Hendrick, Nicole Moua, Leisa Bentley, Ann Flavin, Lisa Harvell, Angie Shelton, Teresa Taylor, Ashley Lawton, Peggy Banks, Wanda Sloan, Brandi Hunt, Emily Wood, and Joyanna Kellough.

The winners for Fort Worth, January 18-19, are:

Monica Banuelos, Carla Spunaugle, Reba Collingsworth, Joyce Still, Jenn Clark, Mary Nichols, Tara Lewis, Jan Smith, and Debbie Mallory.

The winners for Nasvhille, January 31 – February 1 and February 1-2, are:

Cryst Jones, Patty Edwards, Somer mcElyea, Debbie Muuller, Tammy Winton, Susan Shay, Carol Ann Guthrie, Cole Ormsby, Lisa Moore, Cindy Martin, Kelley Taylor, Billie Sue Johnson, Tammy Allen, and Angela Epperson.

The winners for Kissimmee, February 8-9, are:

Lorinda Norris, Mona Antley, Collin Senkasenka, Linda K. Creech, Kristy Gilpin, Denise Blankschen, Amy McNeil, Jaccilee Singleton, Mereline Angela, Penny Mourer, Matt Norman, and Lanita Branch.

I apologize in advance if I incorrectly spelled your name.

To claim your free spot and to register for your friend you will need to call 1.800.588.7222 for Ridgecrest, and 1.800.254.2022 for all other locations. When the registration service partner answers be sure to mention that you participated in the VBS Blog registration giveaway. She will check the official list for your name.


Preview Events will be here before you know it, so register today! The price increases December 1. To register go to or call 1.800.254.2022 for Fort Worth, Nashville, or Kissimmee, and 1.800.588.7222 for Ridgecrest.

Sneak Peek: Coming Attractions

You will not want to miss out on VBS Preview events this year! The team has been hard at work planning new “rides” and “attractions” for Colossal Coaster World that are sure to delight the young and the young at heart. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen so far, these coming attractions will definitely be worth the price of admission! Today I’m going to give you an exclusive behind the scenes look at two of our newest attractions… the Design Lab and the Creative Zone.


The Design Lab will take you inside the heart of Colossal Coaster World for hands-on training and personal consultation with our VBS design team. Mini workshops are available to allow you to hone your skills and learn techniques to take back to your church. Don’t forget your camera as part of your Design Lab experience includes an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at ALL of the VBS sets created for Colossal Coaster World. Be sure to grab your tickets early, as they will go quickly!


Learn how to bring the magic of Colossal Coaster World to life in The Creative Zone! This interactive area showcases the best Colossal Coaster World has to offer such as games, crafts, and snacks. Here you’ll find exclusive bonus ideas that can only be found at LifeWay Preview events. The Creative Zone is also the home to the world’s largest (and only) VBS snack contest. Create the best delectable, edible treat and you could be a big WINNER! Be sure to drop by early and often to catch all the excitement! Who knows, you might even catch a balloon animal demonstration or two.


So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets today for this once in a lifetime experience. We’ll see you at Ridgecrest, Ft Worth, Nashville, or Kissimmee!

New for VBS 2013

Good morning from VBS Headquarters – aka Nashville, Tennessee!

Since I know some of you are already busy planning for VBS 2013, I thought I would share a few of the changes you will find when resources are available for order December 1.

Here goes…

The Administration Guide for Directors has been changed from “chapters” to “steps.” First page is an overview of the six steps directors need to follow in planning, conducting, and following up a VBS.

Snack Rotation Recipe Cards include a Bible story related option for each day. (These are my favorite snacks for 2013!)

Missions rotation includes two short (2 to 3 minutes each) video segments per day, and two missionary families that will be followed all week. Missionary families are the Flooks, who have six kids and minister in Bolivia, and the Pillays, who are originally from South Africa and now minister in Connecticut.

Mission project is Colossal Care Kits which can be distributed to local homeless individuals and shelters.

Decorating Made Easy has undergone a complete redesign with decorations on an easier and smaller scale.

Worship Rally DVD Set now includes two DVDS for the same price. One is a DVD that includes music motions and drama. The second is a DVD-ROM with printable resources.

Bible Study Leader Guides include “Start Here!” on page one of each guide with “what now” steps.

Bible studies include a “Christ Connection” for each day.

Watch for more info in the coming weeks. Also beginning next week I will start sharing information about the exciting changes we are making and the additions to VBS Previews. As of today we are just 80 days away from the first event at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Sure hope you are planning to join us.

It Never Gets Old

This week is an anniversary week for me so I have been doing a little reflecting over the last few days. On November 1, I will celebrate 23 years of working for LifeWay Christian Resources, although the organization had a different name when I began. I have been editing curriculum for children and preschoolers for my full tenure, and specifically working on the VBS team since 2001. I am honored to serve with creative people who work hard to provide resources to help boys and girls know Jesus as Savior.

The VBS team loves to hear stories from churches about what took place in the hearts and lives of children and their families during Vacation Bible School. We count it a privilege to partner with churches as they help boys and girls learn more about trusting God and His Son, Jesus. We are always humbled at how God uses something as fun as VBS to turn hearts to Him. Hearing about changed lives will always be welcome news to our ears. The release of the next year’s curriculum is always an exciting time for us as we are anxious to see how God will work in lives and bring more people to know Him.

We are anxious for VBS 2013 to be delivered to churches and hit the store shelves. But what we are most excited about is another opportunity to hear about how God uses the words, artwork, ideas, and activities for His glory! Telling His story never gets old!


Foto Friday. . .Zippin Pippin


Did you know that I’m from the Memphis TN area? Did you know that I had never been to Graceland until I moved to Nashville and met my wife and took her there while we were visiting my parents? Do you know what roller coaster was Elvis Presley’s favorite? The Zippin Pippin! I got to enjoy riding the Zippin Pippin (at Libertyland) several times when I was a kid growing up in the Memphis area.

Unfortunately, Libertyland is a thing of past but thankfully, the Zippin Pippin lives on! Enjoy the video of our (Elvis and me) favorite ride!

Thank you, thank you very much!


Time to Start Thinking VBS 2013

Now that Labor Day is behind us and we Southerners have packed away our summer whites, it is officially time to start thinking VBS 2013! Of course, most of you reading this post are like me and have been thinking (dreaming, contemplating, planning) VBS 2013 since at least June 4!

There are two great opportunities to be one of the first to see, touch, and experience the fun of Colossal Coaster World.

The first is KMC (Kids Ministry Conference) at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, October 8-10.  Just click on KMC to learn more.

The second opportunity is at one of four VBS Preview locations in January and February. VBS Preview is your Fast Pass to Colossal Coaster World. You don’t want to miss it! Click on VBS Preview to learn more.

Hold on tight! This ride is ready for take off!