Six Questions Every VBS Worker Should Be Able to Answer

20140114-075705.jpgWhile we never expect there to be emergencies during VBS, the very definition of emergency is an “unexpected” situation. An important part of VBS training is emergency preparedness that insures every member of the VBS team knows how to respond and who to contact.

Before the first day of VBS make sure every member of your team knows the answers to these six questions:

1. Where is the First Aid Kit and/or nurse located?

2. What do I do in case of a fire, tornado, or other emergency?

3. What is the church’s child and worker protection policy?

4. How am I expected to handle behavioral issues?

5. Who should I notify if a child becomes unaccounted for?

6. What are the proper dismissal procedures and expectations?

Join the conversation. What additional questions should every member of the VBS team be able to answer?

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

6 Must Knows for Working With Teens

carol_editedVBS it’s not just for kids. LifeWay provides VBS curriculum for Babies–Adults. Student VBS can be an awesome way for your church to connect with and attract students. However, many people only view VBS as a kids ministry. If you church already has or is interested in promoting Student VBS, these 6 tips will help equip your leaders.

  1. Teens are searching for their identity. VBS provides a great opportunity to introduce teens to the best place to search for the answers they need. Instead of turning to friends, social media, TV, and other worldly advice, teach teens to dig deeper into what God’s Word has to say about their true identity.
  2. Relationships mean everything to teens. VBS provides an excellent platform for teens to build relationships with positive role models within the church as well as deepen their relationship with God.
  3. Teens are beginning to explore and question their belief system. Many teens oscillate between believing in God today and doubting that belief tomorrow. VBS provides a safe place for them to find the answers to some of their questions and help them learn how to defend their faith.
  4. Teens are very experiential. They need times to put their faith into action. VBS offers a time to focus on Missions and practical ideas for allowing teens to fulfill the need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
  5. Teens quickly jump from one topic to another and lose interest quickly if they are not engaged. VBS curriculum is intentionally written to help leaders transition between different types of activities to help keep teens engaged and on track.
  6. Teens are capable of and even desire the opportunity to lead. VBS provides opportunities for students to not only step up and lead in their own peer group, but they can also begin to lead and assist with the younger learners attending VBS.

 

Six Things Everyone Needs to Know about Presenting the Gospel

20140114-075705.jpgI’ll admit up front that I’m terrified to share the Gospel with kids. In truth, I experience tremendous terror no matter the age of the person. It’s not that I haven’t been trained or haven’t had enough experience.

My terror comes first from – believe it or not – a real fear of one-on-one conversations with people I do not know extremely well. And then there is the fear the person will ask a question from left field that I can’t answer.

Of course I know I can not let fear stop me from doing what must be done. After all, VBS 2013 was about more than roller coasters. Remember, VBS 2013 was about “Facing fear, trusting God!”

So as you join me in facing my fear (and probably yours too) keep in mind these six things everyone needs to know about presenting the Gospel:

1. Evangelism is the responsibility of every member of the team – not just the pastor.

2. Evangelism is the heart and soul of VBS. Be alert for every opportunity.

3. The likelihood of a profession of faith declines rapidly after age 12.

4. Be sensitive and never pressure. Let the Holy Spirit do the work.

5. It is Jesus Christ who saves. It is Jesus Christ who is rejected.

6. Admit you do not have to have all the answers.

Join the conversation.  What would you add to this list?

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry since 2006.

 

Six Tips for Increasing Training Attendance

20140114-075705.jpgA common frustration expressed by many VBS leaders is low attendance and enthusiasm for training events. As stated yesterday, no matter when or how far in advance you schedule training there is always going to be conflicts that prevent some of your team members from attending. But instead of giving up and deciding not to provide training opportunities, consider these six tips:

1. Provide Food. Besides the reality that we church people assume food is an essential part of every meeting, lack of food – especially for evening sessions – can be a deterrent to attendance. A lite dinner that just happens to be theme related can be a fun way to begin a training session. A meal is also a great benefit for the after work crowd. In addition to suggestions found in LifeWay’s VBS 2014 Snack Rotation Recipe Cards, did you know the VBS 2014 Adult Starter Kit has themed snack and meal suggestions perfect for adults attending a training event.

2. Provide Childcare. If we expect parents of young children to volunteer it is important to consider ways childcare (and meals) can be provided for training and room setup.

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3. Create Energy & Excitement. Your team members will be just as energetic and excited about VBS and training as you are. You set the pace and create the atmosphere, and it all begins with the way you promote and generate excitement for enlistment and training.

4. Make It Meaningful. Simply said, “if you are expecting me to give up another evening or Saturday morning away from home it better be worth my time.” Plan the agenda to insure the content has depth and meaning that is relevant and inspiring to even the longest tenured VBS worker.

5. Honor the Time.There is an Italian phrase that says it beautifully – “il tempo è denaro”  (time is money)! In other words, start on time, end on time, and stay true to the purpose of the session.

6. Award Prizes.  A friend in Georgia says there are three actions required to insure a good training session: “Make them laugh. Make them cry. Give them a door prize.” Prizes that can be used to decorate a VBS classroom or to wear as a themed costume are especially appreciated.

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

Six Ways to Provide VBS Training

20140114-075705.jpgAs stated yesterday, April Is for Training! LifeWay’s VBS team is celebrating (I’m not sure celebrating is the correct word here but I can’t think of anything more appropriate) this month of training by posting daily tips and ideas for your personal training as well as to use as you train others. Actually, now that I think about it, celebrating is the appropriate word!

Enough with the preliminaries. Check out these six ways training can be provided for your VBS team:

1. State and Associational Training Events. The first and easiest way to provide training is to let someone else do it for you. In Southern Baptist life most churches are related in some fashion to both a local and state-wide association of churches. Every state association or convention provides VBS training each year as well as many local associations. Typically these events provide age-specific training using LifeWay’s VBS resources. While most state training events were conducted in February and March, most of the local association events will be held in April and May. Contact your local association of Southern Baptists to discover a training event near you.

2. Bible Content and Theme Overview. Whether you take your team to an associational training event or not, you still need to provide an opportunity for everyone in the church to understand the Bible content and theme. While this is essential training for your team, the entire congregation needs to be exposed to this information as well. By doing so you help the congregation understand why VBS is such an important evangelistic opportunity. You can find suggestions for Bible content and theme training on pages 32 and 33 of the VBS 2014 Administrative Guide for Directors.

3. Assignment-specific Planning. The majority of VBS workers do not spend time with kids on a daily or weekly basis. Even though they may not be trained teachers they willingly journey out of their comfort zone for one week each year. An assignment that seems extremely simple to you can be overwhelming to a VBS volunteer. One or two hours of training and planning not only reduces anxiety but can make a tremendous difference in the quality of your VBS. Training plans for each age group are located on pages 34 through 40 of the VBS 2014 Administrative Guide for Directors.

4. Evangelism Boot Camp. If you think being responsible for crafts creates anxiety for an inexperienced worker, ask your team how they truly feel about the prospects of sharing the Gospel. While VBS is the most evangelistic outreach conducted by many churches, it is conducted by people who are often terrified by the reality of sharing the Gospel. Evangelism training is an essential part of VBS preparation. Priority needs to be given to helping every member of the team – even the snack lady – become familiar with and comfortable using the ABC Memory Card (005557456) or ABCs of Becoming a Christian Tract (005125105). Guidance for sharing the Gospel is also found on the inside cover of each of LifeWay’s VBS leader guides.

A good resources for stepping evangelism training up a notch is LifeWay’s Leading a Child to Christ Training Pack (005125104). Leading a Child to Christ provides a step-by-step method of sharing Jesus with kids.

5.  Online Articles & Videos. No matter how far in advance you schedule your training opportunities it is typically impossible for every member of the team to attend. Scheduling conflicts happen, but that doesn’t mean training can not be provided. With online possibilities your team members can receive training at the neighborhood coffee shop or in their favorite recliners. In addition to LifeWay’s VBS and Kids Ministry 101 blogs, check out hundreds of video training sessions at LifeWay’s Ministry Grid.

6. Team Handbook. No matter how many training sessions you offer there is still room for a facts sheet or handbook that spells out the details. I’m not sure a handbook is considered training but it will go a long way towards curbing anxiety. Over the years I have seen everything from a one-page sheet covering all of the dos and dont’s to a handbook roughly the size of War and Peace. While something that extensive is most likely counterproductive, a facts sheet is essential.

 

Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

April Is for Training

20140114-075705.jpgJust as April showers result in a profusion of May flowers, VBS training results in a bounty just as beautiful and rich.

Spring can be hectic at best. If Easter, graduations, weddings, and little league do not fill your calendar there is always the flurry of activity in preparation for VBS! It is tempting to push training aside – especially this year with Easter so late in April.

Chances are you might be asking yourself, “is training really that important?” After all, most VBS workers have been doing the same thing for years and could successfully lead VBS in their sleep. Right?

The truth is, many VBS workers do have tremendous experience and need very little help or instruction. AND, getting workers to attend a training session can be challenging enough. Then there is the time and energy required to prepare and promote the training event. There is no wonder you might be tempted to just hope for the best and hope workers find everything they need to know in the leader guides.

But training is important – even for the person who has worked in VBS every year since LifeWay first published VBS resources in 1925.

To highlight “April Is For Training,” LifeWays VBS team has created a series of posts containing six tips for your personal training or to use as you train VBS workers in your church. (By the way, six tips work great with LifeWay’s six-sided Giant Inflatable Game Cube.) We begin with -

6 REASONS WHY VBS TRAINING IS ESSENTIAL

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1. Training creates and builds teams. When everyone comes together for training, individuals realize they are part of something bigger than just the part they play. They are given a glimpse of the big picture and purpose of VBS and the importance of participating not as an individual but as a team.

2. Training empowers workers and turns them into leaders. VBS volunteers rarely see themselves as leaders, yet that is exactly what they are. Training that empowers (gives a volunteer permission and knowledge to lead) helps a volunteer to begin assuming the role and responsibilities of leadership.

3. Training creates evangelistic urgency. Training gives workers the tools and confidence they need to present the Gospel boldly. It produces a challenge to make sure every minute and aspect of VBS is focused on presenting the Gospel.

4. Training produces a sense of assurance. Most VBS volunteers only work with kids once each year. Leader guides may provide the content but it takes training to confidently use it.

5. Training challenges the status quo. While very few people truly enjoy change, a VBS that never changes quickly becomes predictable and boring. Training challenges workers to dream big and do the work of VBS with excellence.

6. Training dots the i’s and crosses the t’s. Everyone needs to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of VBS. Training provides an opportunity to answer all the questions and get everyone on the same page.

 Jerry Wooley, @vbsguy, has served as LifeWay’s VBS Ministry Specialist since 2006.

6 Tips You Need for Leading VBS Training

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VBS training time is here! Are you a leader who likes to lead from behind-the-scenes and is a little intimated by training? Are you a leader who has been training people for years and years and just needs something to make it fresh? Maybe this is your first try at training your church leaders to lead VBS and you just need some tips to do so. Here are 6 tips to consider when leading a VBS training session… just to get the conversation going.


1. Start and end when you say you will.
Build trust and respect with your teachers now.
2. Get to know your teachers.
If you want your teachers to learn how to build relationships with the kids in the VBS class, make sure to be building relationships with them.
3. Don’t be all business.
VBS is fun! Make sure to work some fun into your training!
4. Empower other leaders.
If you feel like it is important to talk through what will happen at recreation or during missions, allow those teachers to speak to that. Empower every teacher by giving them your expectations and what success at VBS looks like, which is spending time with kids teaching them about Jesus, so that they may see Him and desire to follow Him!
5. Give leaders specific ways to pray.
Pass out a prayer calendar that has a specific thing to pray for each day between training and VBS. Pray for teachers as they prepare, kids as they get excited to come, and parents as kids go home and tell them about what they learned.
6. Consider ways to include the entire church.
Allow your volunteers to help you think about as many ways as possible to get your entire church involved in VBS. Share your prayer calendar with the church, ask them to come to the week’s night of celebration and get to know some of the families, or have them prayer walk through the church the day before VBS begins. There are tons of ways to include your church, so think through some ways to do so and make it happen!

If you missed last week’s post about training, find it here.

What is the best tip you can share with us about leading a VBS training session?

5 Reasons to Teach Babies–2s

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard preschool Sunday school referred to as day care or babysitting. I know none of you have ever said that… but just in case you need some help recruiting teachers for these small ones or want to encourage current teachers with how they are making a difference in these little lives, here are 5 reasons to teach our youngest, sweetest ministry participants.

 

  1. Bible teaching as infants and early toddlers lay the spiritual foundation for those children for years to come. Even babies can begin to recognize Jesus as a familiar name. They will learn that church is a safe place where teachers care for them. They will learn that they can trust what teachers say at church. These are formative years not to miss!
  2. Children as young as 1 year old can remember simple events. They can remember reading from the cool Bible with all the pictures when that action is repeated week after week.
  3. When their needs are met at church, they develop trust for the teacher and the truth that they are speaking to them. This builds into them trusting that their spiritual needs can be met by Jesus.
  4. At 1 year, most children are beginning to make simple choices. Red or green. Cheerios or bananas. Talking about Jesus and making decisions that honor Him can become commonplace. As they develop their ability to make choices, they will know that Jesus wants to be a part of those decisions.
  5. Children will associate God’s name with love and trust. Again, these associations lay a solid foundation for preschool teachers to build on.

Teaching Babies–2s is like a jump start into knowing about God. As they trust and love God, they will begin to understand what a relationship with Him looks like as they continue to grow and learn. Babies–2s are learning at church, too. They may not be able to use their words to thank you, but they are daily growing as they use their senses and develop skills at church to discover who Jesus is!

VBS 2010 Preview Events – Mark your calendars!!

If you are interested in attending the VBS Preview Events for VBS 2010, here’s a little insider information. In January 2010, we will have 5 VBS Preview Events, plus 2 new Preview Sneak Peek events, which are shorter and less expensive than the normal VBS Preview Events. Here are some dates and locations so you can mark your calendars! I don’t have  registration or pricing info available yet, but I’ll update as soon as I do!

January 7-8 – VBS Preview Sneak Peek, Ridgecrest, NC
January 8-9 – VBS Preview, Ridgecrest, NC
January 14-15 – VBS Preview, Fort Worth, TX
January 15-16 – VBS Preview, Fort Worth, TX
January 22-23 – VBS Preview Sneak Peek, Las Vegas, NV
January 28-29 – VBS Preview, Nashville, TN
January 29-30 – VBS Preview, Nashville, TN