VBS & Fall Fest

Could there be a more perfect way to reuse VBS decorations than at your church’s fall festival? LifeWay Kids had our own fall festival last week… complete with food, candy, and games. Candace & I put our own spin on the classic “fish for a prize” game and totally decked out Candace’s office door with decorations from the Great Barrier Reef (Amazing Wonders Aviation).

You can check out more of the great games, booths, and decorations from our fall office party on the Kids Ministry 101 blog all this week!

We want to hear from you… Does your church do any kind of fall festival? How have you reused VBS decorations for other church/community events? Give us all some inspiration!

Easy Peasy 2012 VBS Director's Evaluations

I know you’ve just seen months of planning come to fruition and all you really want to to is sit back and relax. But if you could, do one more thing. Just one and I promise to make it as easy as possible.

We want to hear from you. Please fill out the VBS Director’s Evaluations online here or you can complete a paper copy from the 2012 Administrative Guide and mail it in to the address on the form. That’s it! Easy peasy, right? And I promise I will read every one and pass along all your comments, thoughts, and suggestions to the VBS team to help us evaluate what you need for VBS to be easy for you.

VBS Turned Their Church Around

One of the most rewarding aspects of providing resources for churches is hearing stories. God continues to bless through the ministry of VBS. A good friend sent in the following story written by Kiely Young of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Enjoy and dream big! VBS does turn churches (and communities) around!

Pastor Bob Hill has been at Roundaway Baptist Church “out from” Indianola, Mississippi about three years. He came out of retirement to be the Interim Pastor of this church. The Pastor Search Committee stopped looking and just asked Bro. Bob to stay a while. He has.

He looked at the church calendar and noticed they did not have Vacation Bible School on the summer calendar. When he asked why, the response was, “We don’t have any children, so we don’t need to have VBS.” They had not had VBS in twenty-three years. Bro. Bob reminded them there were still strong elementary schools in the area and they were full, so there must be children in the area. He asked them to consider VBS again. They reluctantly agreed.

Bro. Bob enlisted two people, a VBS Director and a VBS Prayer Leader. He wanted to meet with them and ask God what to do. The church averaged about 40 in Sunday School. He wanted them praying for VBS. They determined they needed to do three things: Pray, Prepare, and Promote. Their story is amazing.

As they prayed they were impressed to enlist workers for at least fifty children, maybe more. They needed to contact every family in a five mile radius of the church and estimate how many children to expect. They did. They enlisted more workers. They promoted in the elementary schools, in grocery stores, convenience stores, everywhere they thought they might get the attention of children and parents of children.

They were not disappointed. They had 80 children for their first VBS in 23 years. Ten of those children were led to Christ and their families began coming to church and Sunday School. They grew from 40 to 60 in Sunday School! VBS worked. They followed up with every family who visited their VBS within the next week.

I asked Bro. Bob what he considered to be the more important thing they are doing. He said Vacation Bible School turned their church around. This year he brought twenty new leaders to our VBS training. They went back and trained the other leaders in their church. He said we keep VBS before our people year round. Oh yes…They had 80 children the second year and twenty came to Christ.

______________

Kiely Young is the Director of the Sunday School Department for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

Reserve These Dates Now!


Last week I encouraged you to begin working on your VBS 2012 budget now – using 2011 records and projecting forward for anticipated growth.

The second thing you need to do now is get all of your dates on the church calendar. Schools seem to be starting the first week of August – at least here in Middle Tennessee – and calendar planning has become a competition won by the dog that barks first and loudest! I’m not calling anyone a dog, but you get the idea – you snooze, you lose.

Obviously you need to schedule the week of VBS, but what other activities need to be on the calendar now?

How about the following:
**Enlistment (beginning and completion target dates)
**Training (both church and associational sponsored opportunities)
**Promotion activities such as flyer distribution, parades, registration events
**Family Night
**Follow-up events
**Worker appreciation event

Can you think of others?

Make the Connection From VBS to Bible Drill

Got any Big Apple Curriculum laying around? Want to help your kids learn Bible verses in a fun way? If you answered yes to those questions then why not pull those leaders guides back out and find some ready made activites that you can adapt with any Bible verse.

Oh, what’s that? You already gave away your curriculum. No worries, Sue Harmon with the South Carolina Baptist Convention recently contacted us about an article on their site that connects activities from the Big Apple to use with Bible Drill. Check it out here.

As you can see,  there are lots of great ideas for adapting VBS teaching resources to be used with Bible Drill, Wednesday night fillers, or anytime you need a great way to reinforce Bible skills. Share with us how you have used VBS teaching materials at other times.

It Ain't Over Til It's Over

Wait! Don’t pack away that inflatable Statue of Liberty or all those little yellow inflatable taxi cabs decorating your church.  Just because the teaching, singing, craft making fun of VBS is complete, doesn’t mean we’re done. There’s still lots left to do to connect all those prospects discovered during the week to an on going relationship with your church and our Savior and Lord. Remember that small little tag line that comes after Big Apple Adventure—Where Faith and Life Connect? Well, now is the time to help “connect” the biblical truths taught during VBS with real life! Following up with  those who visited during VBS is a vital part of successfully completing your VBS experience.

Check out Chapter 4 in the VBS 2011 Administrative Guide to find Follow-up Strategies and helps. Or check out some of these tips from previous posts here, here, and here.

What are some of your favorite Follow-up Strategies? We would love to hear them!

Making the VBS Connection

Last Tuesday I wrote about the five essentials of VBS follow-up: 1. Start with a plan; 2. Put someone in charge; 3. Know your audience; 4. Use a variety of methods; and 5. Be creative.

The ultimate goal of each of these essential elements is to help you and your church make connections with the people you want to attend your VBS.

Here are five essential (again with the word “essential”) ways to connect:

1. Make COMMUNITY connections. Since I know the purpose of my church, where it is located, and what happens inside the walls, I just assume everyone else in the community knows as well. Wrong! The majority of people who drive by the church each day are not even aware the church or the church building exist. Before we can have great success inviting people to VBS we must first introduce ourselves to them and help them know who and what we are.

This doesn’t happen just because we leave brochures at each house or place a large banner in front of the church building. Well in advance of VBS we must, as a church, become involved in the community. We must participate in parades, community festivals, community organizations and schools, and be actively involved in meeting needs of individuals and the community.

2. Make NEIGHBORHOOD connections. Many church members today have little connection with their neighbors. They may wave as they are headed to the car, but have not invested the time to build relationships. Yet these are the people we are going to hand a stack of VBS brochures and ask them to invite their neighbors.

If we are going to depend on church members to be the primary promoters for VBS we may need to invest time helping church members meet their neighbors. This can be accomplished through block parties, frontyard Bible clubs, and service projects.

3. Make KID connections. If we want to invite kids to VBS we have to first find them. We have to go where the kids go: little league ball fields, schools, parks and swimming pools, the library (do kids go to libraries anymore?). You get the idea. Discover where the kids congregate and take your information to them – especially at the time parents are picking them up.

4. Make SERENDIPITOUS connections. That is a big word that simply means connect with people in unexpected ways. If ever church in town is delivering brochures door-to-door you are going to have to do something that stands out, that is unexpected, that is memorable! My favorite idea to date is a church that put their invitation on a frisbee, waited until the middle of the night, and placed a frisbee on each driveway. The next morning as people went out to pick up the paper or leave for work they found a frisbee not only on their own drive but every driveway in the neighborhood. Not only was it unexpected, but who throws away a frisbee?

5. Make PERSONAL connections. The very best way to publicize VBS is still the old fashioned way – one person telling/inviting another person. Instead of just making a pulpit plea to invite friends and neighbors, offer a brief training session on what to say. Arm members of the congregation with all the facts so they will be able to not only invite but to answer questions kids and parents might have. Share testimonies from people who are currently attending church because a friend or neighbor extended an invitation.

Another aspect of personal connections is training church members how to connect with people once they walk in the door of the church. Connection points 1 – 4 may get someone to attend, but unless personal connections are made the person/family is not likely to return. For many church members making this type of personal connection does not come easily – especially for members who have been involved in the church for a long period of time or who have a large family or many friends already attending the church.

By now (if you are still reading this post) you should be thinking, “Wow, making connections takes a lot of work,” and your are absolutely correct. But if VBS is one of the largest outreach events on the church calendar it requires work. It requires making the connection.

Coming next Tuesday: Big Apple Adventure theme-related promotion ideas.

Make a BIG impact after VBS

VBS season isn’t even in full gear and I’m already wondering what my church is planning to do for follow-up. Right now, we’re working on recruiting leaders—so this a great time to enlist a person to be in charge of our follow-up efforts. I was searching around for some helpful tips, and found this awesome article by Polly House that is full of practical VBS follow-up advice. I want to share it with you.

VBS Shouldn’t End on Friday

Written by Polly House

Year after year, churches indicate their greatest need for Vacation Bible School is help with the follow-up. “What takes place after VBS is just as important as anything that happens during the week,” said Mike Smith of the leadership and evangelism area of LifeWay Christian Resources. “You have opportunities after VBS that didn’t even exist before.”

Smith led a session on “VBS and Beyond: Evangelistic Follow-Up,” during the 2011 VBS Preview held Jan. 27-28 at LifeWay Christian Resources’ home office in Nashville, Tenn. A second preview was held Jan. 28-29. More than 1,500 people attended. Smith said the first step to successful evangelical follow-up is to have a VBS follow-up director. “This person is just as important as the VBS director,” Smith said. “The follow-up director makes certain every child is remembered after the week. This is especially important for children who are not already a part of the church family. The weeks soon after VBS may be the only time a church member is welcome in the home of an unchurched family. It can be a time of introducing what the church has to offer to the entire family.”

Smith highlighted some notable statistics from LifeWay’s 2009’s Vacation Bible School (the most recent statistics available). “These numbers are just from the churches that actually reported their information to their state conventions and to LifeWay,” he said. “We know there are many that don’t send in a report.”

  • Number of churches reporting: 24,427
  • VBS enrollment: 2,840,380
  • Professions of faith: 88,410
  • Sunday school/Bible study prospects discovered: 264,716
  • Prospects enrolled in Sunday school/Bible study: 49,541
  • Prospects added to the prospect file: 206,392

He also listed a number of follow-up strategies and ideas for churches and explained how they can help.

  • Have a fun and evangelistic family night. “This may be the only time some of the unchurched parents will ever step foot in the church.”
  • Follow up with the Children’s Music Series. “The children always love the music at VBS and the CMS is a great way to keep them excited about music.”
  • Use the aids in the VBS Administrative Guide. “This gives resources, PowerPoints, training ideas and follow-up plans.”
  • Gather accurate/sufficient information on every VBS participant. “Get as much as possible, and be honest why you need it. Tell them you plan to follow up.”
  • Determine ahead of time what will be your plan for follow-up. “Establish your strategy before VBS ever begins.”
  • Immediately after VBS, activate your follow-up teams. “People will never be more open than they are right then.”
  • Send information about the church directly to the homes. “You really can’t trust the kids to make it home with the information.”
  • Connect everyone in the family with the appropriate Sunday school class. “If they get connected with a small group like Sunday school, statistics tell us there is an 83 percent chance they will still be connected after five years, but only a 16 percent chance if they aren’t.”

Celebrate the results of VBS during a Sunday morning worship service. “Have the whole service be about VBS. Do the music, have testimonies, and have a VBS-themed sermon.” Smith also suggested the resources Leading a Child to Christ and More to Life to help churches evangelistically reach out to new families.

New and Improved Idea Banks

We heard you! The VBS Idea Banks are back, and they are better than ever. This is the place where you can “deposit” your ideas and “withdraw” other people’s ideas on all aspects of Vacation Bible School 2011. The Idea Banks are different than the VBS Forums—the forums are a place for discussions and conversations.

Our Idea Banks provide a place for you to upload your own photos, videos, and text about any VBS topic—crafts, snacks, decorations, Bible study, missions, Worship Rally, recreation, scheduling, follow-up ideas, teacher appreciation, success stories, and more. Get out your camera and share your success with others. Anyone have some “VBS blogger” appreciation ideas?