Freebie Friday

Who’s ready for a giveaway??? Last week we asked you to tell us the special skills your watch would have if you were a real special agent. Your answers did not disappoint! From seeing through walls to teleporting (to get all that VBS Director work done!) to a Scripture app to a Needometer that would allow a director to know what people need, there were a ton of fun answers! Our randomly selected winner said she would record clues with her special agent watch!

This week is another great giveaway… how would you like your very own VBS 2014 Inflatable Camera?!? (Cute kid not included.)


All you need to do to enter is log in below and submit your answer to this week’s question: “What do you do with pictures taken during VBS?” Do you create any kind of keepsake for kids? Class pictures? Scrapbooks? We want to hear your great ideas!

A winner will be chosen at random from all of the submissions. You have until Thursday at 24:00 hours to enter. Good luck, agents!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Marooned Without a Compass Day

carol_editedWho knew that there is day for being marooned without a compass? I love that we can find reasons to celebrate/honor odd days. I mean, who thought, “I know! November 6th should be Marooned Without a Compass Day”? Was it someone who had recently been marooned and rescued? Was it someone who had just finished watching the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway? I’m not sure what the history behind the day is, but I thought it would be fun to poll the VBS team (in honor of Wilson, the volleyball) to see what VBS item they would want to have with them if they were marooned without a compass. I, of course, would take the VBS tablecloths. You can make a lean-to, rain poncho, sleeping bag, or any number of items.

So, in no certain order, here are the responses:

Keith— The giant inflatable to use as a raft.

Rhonda—Wanted to say the inflatable, but she changed to the tablecloths. And since it only said, “No compass,” She’s thinking her pack would have duct tape etc. She would put up a temporary shelter, use them to keep things waterproof, tote the food she would find when she’s foraging, and set a fine table for whomever wanders by.

Gordon—Decided to be all spiritual on us and said The New Testament of course! But he also gave props to Survivorman, Les Stroud for teaching him all he needs to know.

Bethany—Wanted to take the Rocket Pack Jack Stand-up, so she would have a friend. (Kind of like Wilson in Castaway.)

Mary—Opted for the Special Agent Watch, which she thought had a GPS function – thus allowing someone to find her. She was just going to enjoy the scenery until they arrived, but we hated to inform her it might be a long wait since the watch doesn’t have GPS. It does, however, have a cool laser light with which she could entertain small animals and a working watch so she could keep track of just how long she was marooned.

Candace—Settled on taking the balloons, so she could tie them to something and fly away. She has her movies confused – that would have been Up.

Melita—Of course Melita is the rebel on the team, she said she would take duct tape. Because even though it’s not an official VBS accessory, you can’t do VBS without it!

So there you have it. What VBS accessory would you take if you were marooned without a compass?

Apologetics 101

thomasThe day we announced our VBS 2014 theme, one well-known apologist tweeted: “FANTASTIC! 2014 VBS curriculum from @Lifeway focuses on apologetics for kids. Excellent!” Since then we’ve heard many of you express the same kind of excitement about this Bible content designed to help kids discover the truth about who Jesus is and defend their faith in a culture that is often hostile toward Christianity. But we also know that “apologetics” is an unfamiliar word to some. Consider this your crash course. Are you ready?


What is apologetics?
Simply put, apologetics is the defense of the faith. It comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “a reasoned defense.” Just like attorneys use evidence and reasoning to defend their clients in court, Christian apologists point to concrete evidence and give well-reasoned answers to defend the truth of Christianity.

The purpose of apologetics is not winning an argument. The purpose is to draw people into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, the cornerstone and foundation of our faith.

What about evangelism?
Apologetics goes hand-in-hand with evangelism. In fact, apologetics could even be described as pre–evangelism. For those who question the Christian faith, apologetics uses logical answers as springboards for sharing the gospel. Ours is not a blind faith; it is a faith firmly rooted in history and evidence.

Apologetics can also be described as post–evangelism. At some point, everyone will have his beliefs directly challenged, whether by a friend, teacher, family member, or the ever-pervasive media. When those “points of crisis” come along, we must be able to fall back on those foundational pillars of our faith and be assured not only of what we believe, but also why we believe it. Matthew 22:37 commands us to love God not only with our hearts and souls, but also with our minds.

Why are so many young people growing up and leaving their faith behind? It’s because the Christian community is failing to engage their minds as well as their hearts. As kids ministry leaders, we can give children a priceless gift by helping them to think biblically and to defend their faith before they leave our sphere of influence.

Can’t we hold off until they get to the youth group?
Let me answer this question with another question. Can we really afford to wait?

While teaching in VBS two summers ago, a kindergartner said to me, “My daddy says God isn’t real, so His Son isn’t real either.” What this 6-year-old was really saying was: “Tell me why what you’re saying is true.”

We must give kids reasons why Christianity is objectively true, why the Bible is God’s inspired and infallible Word, why we can know that Jesus was more than just a good man and that His resurrection is not a myth or elaborate hoax. If not, we risk losing our children and generations to follow.

As kids ministry leaders, we don’t have to have all the answers… and we don’t even have to pretend to. But we do need to be available to kids and help them work through their questions, doubts, and uncertainties honestly. This will become very important as they enter the teenage years and young adulthood… but it begins now. It begins in VBS. It begins with leaders who will not only help kids discover the truth, and introduce them to a Savior who died for them, and build a foundation for life-long faith in them, but who will show them by example how to live it out.



Get the Communication Hub Humming

thomasIt’s time for another Decorating Monday feature! Today we’ll take a look at the site for music rotation during Agency D3… the Communication Hub. Because it’s Monday and because we like you, our faithful blog readers, so much, I’ll give you a piece of art to download that will make your decorating even easier.



Here you go! We used keyboards all over the place in our Agency D3 decorations, but nowhere is it more critical than here in the center of communications for the entire Agency. All you need to do is mount these to foam board scraps and voila—a perfectly easy wireless keyboard!

Stay tuned for more quick tips and easy tricks to bring Agency D3 to life in your church this summer!

Agency D3 Decorating- Music from LifeWay VBS on Vimeo.

Decorating for Bible Study

thomasHappy Monday! Let’s celebrate with another decorating demo!

Today’s decorating video features a sneak peek at the location for Bible Study at Agency D3—the Evidence Vault. And for all of you VBS DIYers out there, be sure to check out the technique demonstration around the 2 minute mark.



Worship Rally Headquarters



Ready for some more decorating ideas? The VBS 2014 Decorating Made Easy book (available Oct. 1 in the Jump Start Kit) is packed with ideas from the basic to the elaborate, but today I wanted to give you something you won’t find in the book. Just for you, faithful blog readers… here and nowhere else. Are you ready?




This is the art created for the giant screen in our Worship Rally set. It’s designed to look like a bank of monitors for a high tech workstation suitable for the Agency D3 HQ. One simple way to decorate is to project this image on a free-standing screen, with a banquet table (or 3) positioned in front. Raise the back legs of the table(s) and cover the tabletop(s) with old joysticks, keyboards, calculators, buttons, gears, etc. like a giant control panel.

Want to see more? Check out this video tour through Agency D3 Headquarters and get your creative juices flowing. How will you decorate for Worship Rally?

Agency D3: Preview

wooley1 2013 If you have attended a LifeWay VBS Preview you know how much fun we have when hundreds of high-energy VBS leaders get together to learn, share, create, laugh, and worship together. And in 2014 you will have even more opportunity to join the fun with two additional events where everything is packed into a single day.

You loved him at VBS 2013 Preview, so you will be excited to learn that Dr. Shane Garrison is returning to share the rest of the story – your story – the story of how many of you responded to the challenge to build bridges to spiritual orphans and expanded your VBS outreach in ways you could not have imagined a year ago.

You will also have the opportunity to learn from the best of the best including Klista Storts, Bill Emeott, Jerry Vogel, Kelli McAnally, Lori Honeycutt, Mark Jones, Rhonda Van Cleave, our great VBS set designers, and many more.

Join me and co-host Andy Dukes at one of the following locations for VBS 2014 Preview.

Dig into D3 and Dream with Us! 

Ridgecrest North Carolina, January 10 – 11

Fort Worth, Texas, January 17 – 18

Nashville, Tennessee, January 30 – 31, January 31 – February 1, or One-Day February 1

Kissimmee, Florida, February 7-8, or One-Day February 8

Become part of the Special Operations Unit when you register to bring 10 people by October 10th.

Special Operations Unit Agents will receive a member-only t-shirt and other great VBS swag!

Register by November 1 and save!

Click here to learn more and register today!

Uncovering the Fun of Agency D3 Rotation Sites

wooley1 2013One of the most fun aspects of any VBS theme besides the theme itself is the names and decorations of the rotation sites. When the room or area of Bible study, crafts, or missions is given a unique identity it transforms the ordinary and sparks imagination and adventure.

So many of you proposed such interesting possibilities for the theme – shipwreck, world travel, video game. I have to admit, the rotation sites for an Ireland theme could be great fun and I volunteer to personally travel to the Emerald Isle to check them out. Wish I could! Wish you could all go with me!

But as you know by now, LifeWay’s VBS 2014 is Agency D3: Discover. Decide. Defend. And what a fantastic VBS it is going to be! You are going to have great fun with the rotation sites. I promise!

But what does an investigation theme mean for rotation sites and decorations. Think high-tech labs, computers and monitors (you remember all those old computer monitors stashed in the closet?), intriguing gadgets, microscopes, test tubes, lab coats, black suits, and the list goes on and on. Think Mission Impossible, CSIGet Smart, and Men in Black. Now before you say, “What is LifeWay thinking by promoting such shows?” Take a deep breath, we are not promoting any of the shows, nor do we reference them in any of the resources. However, we know the mention of these shows might just be the best way for many of you to get a vision for what the rotation sites will look like.

So are you ready for a quick introduction? Drum roll please! And the VBS 2014 Agency D3 rotation sites are:

Worship Rally – Headquarters

Bible Study – Evidence Vault

Missions – Map Room

Snacks – Break Room

Recreation – Training Ground

Crafts – The Lab

Music – Communication Hub

Before you panic, just remember, we have never left you wanting for ideas and we’re not leaving you hanging for VBS 2014.

As you read this our dream team of creative extraordinaries is hard at work creating sets that not only look awesome but are a fun re-purposing of some of the most unexpected items in your garage. They are the best at what they do because their designs and how-to instructions make YOU the best at what YOU do!

I would like to introduce you to the best styrofoam cutters in the business:




(Left to right) Keith Tyrrell, Gordon Brown, Melita Thomas, and Pam Goodwin.

Their designs will be featured in promotional videos, the VBS 2014 Catalog, and VBS 2014 Decorating Made Easy. Videos are actually being shot this week so we will be ready to share them with you soon and may even share a few photos before this day is over! Also these fab four will be at each of our Previews in January and February to personally help you transform your church into a kid’s wildest fantasy of Agency D3.


Als0, our Oklahoma Wonder and friend, Mark Jones is returning with his simplified and scaled down version of the sets. Mark is truly the King of Upcycling and never creates anything new if there is something from a previous VBS that will work. Mark (the creator of Mr. Mark’s Classroom) is one of our most loved Preview presenters and has already signed on to join us at Ridgecrest, Fort Worth, Nashville, and Kissimmee. (Learn more about Previews later today.)

Up next: Takin’ It Home

Discovering the Facts of Agency D3 Bible Content

wooley1 2013

So many of you got it right! The clock in Impossible Clue Number One was a small detail you quickly identified as a Scripture reference and it didn’t take you long to figure out the VBS 2014 verse is 1 Peter 3:15:

“But honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

And several of you also figured out at least two-thirds of the VBS 2014 motto:

Discover. Decide. Defend.

I am excited to announce the Bible content of Agency D3 is not only one of the strongest evangelistic studies we have ever offered, but is a study in apologetics at its best! Kids, teens, and adults will be challenged to discover for themselves the evidence that reveals who Jesus is, decide for themselves if this evidence can be trusted and accepted, and then given the tools to defend their decision. During each session, the agents of Agency D3 will investigate the truths of Scripture discovering that Jesus is truly the Son of God, is more than just a good man, died a real death, but is today alive!

While there will still be a specific day for presenting the ABCs of Becoming a Christian, the discussion becomes a response opportunity to the foundation that has already been created by daily evangelistic emphasis and statements.

And for those of you using The Gospel Project ongoing Bible study resources, you will be happy to see daily Christ Connection statements.

Children’s Bible Content

Day 1: Is Jesus Really God’s Son?

Evidence: An Eyewitness Report

Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:29-36

Kids can know that the evidence proves that Jesus is God’s Son.


Day 2: Was Jesus More Than Just a Good Man?

Evidence: Background Check

Mark 6:1-6, 30-56

Kids can know that the evidence proves that Jesus was more than just a good man.


Day 3: Was Jesus’ Death Real?

Evidence: Death Confirmed

Mark 14: 22-28; 15:22-47

Kids can know that the evidence proves that Jesus’ death was real.


Day 4: Is Jesus Alive?

Evidence: Physical Proof

Luke 24:1-48

Kids can know that the evidence proves that Jesus is alive.


Day 5: What Do I Do with the Evidence About Jesus?

Summing Up the Evidence

Acts 2:14-42; 1 Peter 3:15

Kids can use the evidence about Jesus to defend their faith.


Up next: Rotation Sites


And While We Wait…

wooley1 2013

Again this year we have had great fun watching you respond to our Impossible Clues. Thanks to our friend, the creative genius Steve Bussell at Seventh Story Productions in Franklin, Tennessee, for another great year of clues that even makes those of us who know the theme scratch our heads in wonder.

My favorite quote from this week was from co-worker Patrick Watts who said, “I know the theme and still can’t figure out the clues.” Steve, this indication that you out did yourself. You are truly the clue master and we are honored to have you on the team.

We are also honored to have each of you on the team as well. We affectionally refer to you as our VBS Groupies and we love you dearly. Thank you for making this week one of the true highlights of our work year – and for at least one week each year LifeWay’s highest rated blog!

While we all wait for the big reveal right here at 1:00 PM (CST), I want to ask you to join me in praying for the thousands of churches starting VBS today. Traditionally the first full week of June is the biggest VBS week of the year. Almost 50% of all Bible schools will be held in the next two weeks.

Statistics tells us that approximately 3,000,000 kids, tens, and adults will participate in one or more Bible schools this summer. Ten percent will tell us they are unchurched by leaving the church affiliation line on their registration card blank. This means that collectively we will discover 300,000 unchurched individuals this summer and this number does not include family members who didn’t participate in VBS. When parents and siblings are factored in, we will discover 1,050,000 people this summer who are spiritual orphans.

Join me in praying that not only will these spiritual orphans hear the Gospel proclaimed during VBS, but that they will be adopted into church families who do everything possible to build upon and continue the relationship connections made during VBS.

Some of the saddest conversations I have each year are with church leaders who say they no longer have VBS because it is no longer effective. When pressed what I typically learn is that the church accepted the gift of unchurch families attending VBS, but did nothing to build upon the relationship and continue the connections.

Throughout the afternoon we will be releasing additional theme and content information. I think you will be surprised by the many upgrades and improvement you will discover. You have spoken and we have listened!

One improvement I can tell about now is new terminology to replace follow-up and Family Nights.

We have decided to replace follow-up with continued connections. This is the result of multiple conversations with VBS leaders during of VBS 2013 Preview events in January and February. For many of us VBS follow-up has become nothing more than a “thanks for attending” postcard. Once the card is dropped in the mail we pat ourselves on the back and check follow-up off the list. While we need to express gratitude, to be effective we must go beyond a postcard and do the work of building upon and continuing the relationship connections made during VBS. You will hear more about this in the weeks to come.

Another term being upgraded due to these same conversations is family night. Beginning with VBS 2014 we will now call this celebration of the VBS week exactly that – VBS Celebration. You will hear more about this in the weeks to come as well.

I am truly excited to share the VBS 2014 theme, but even more excited  about the information I’ll be sharing later today. So stay tuned!