VBS Preparation– How's it Going?

Hey there, VBS friends!

I want to hear what you’re working on for 2012 VBS!  Maybe some of you are still looking for ideas, and could gain some inspiration from hearing what others are doing.  Whether you’re preparing for Amazing Wonders Aviation or Space Quest, maybe you had a great idea for decorating…please share!  We’re all friends here, and sharing your ideas may just inspire someone else!

What are you working on right now?

What has been the biggest challenge in preparing for VBS?

What is your favorite decoration for VBS 2012?

How can we help you?

Don’t be shy! Share some ideas!

Social Media as a Ministry Tool: The Basics

Some of you may be thinking, “Social media!? There’s no way I can use that as a ministry tool. I’m too far behind already.” But guess what… if you are reading this blog post, you’re already more savvy than you think.

YOU are reading a blog post– and according to our data, chances are good that you got to this blog by Google searching for VBS or clicking on a link on Facebook or Twitter. So how can you use what you already know about the Internet to connect with your parents, volunteers, and community? Let me show you the way!

1) Just have a social media presence. There are many options to choose from, but Twitter and Facebook are the most commonly used social realms. I would say most parents use Facebook rather than Twitter. But determine what your parents and volunteers are using and sign up. Make sure it’s clear that the Facebook page or Twitter handle belongs to your ministry. Be sure to use a familiar logo so that users can easily identify the account as yours.

2) UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE! Twitter and Facebook are FREE ways to communicate–great tools! But those avenues are useless if you aren’t using them. Use your “status” to inform parents and volunteers of dates/times and ministry needs. Make sure that you update regularly and respond to questions from parents and volunteers.

A good example of a status update might be: “Amazing Wonders Aviation VBS kicks off in just one month!! We’re looking for excited volunteers to help us take flight! Interested? Let us know! ”

Interested volunteers could then interact with that status by responding and expressing their desire to help with VBS. This is especially helpful if you use youth and college students to help with VBS; most students that age are constantly receiving information from social media outlets!

Here are some other great examples:

“Don’t forget!! VBS volunteer training TONIGHT from 6-7pm in the Fellowship Hall. Can’t wait to see your smiling faces!”

“Registered to send your little camper to CentriKid yet? Deadline for registration is May 30th! Scholarships available. Contact Katie for more information.”

3) Have fun! It may surprise you how much fun social media can be. When you show excitement about your new-fangled tool, others will be excited to communicate with you. Enjoy “being part of the conversation” and engaging parents and volunteers in this way.

4) Follow US! If you’re on Facebook, make sure you check out the pages for LifeWay Kids, LifeWay VBS, CentriKid Camps, and LifeWay PreTeens. They’re great places to get updates about the latest stuff going on, ask questions and get in on the conversation with other folks in ministry. If you’re on Twitter, make sure to follow @lifewayvbs, @lifewaykids, @centrikidcamps, and our new curriculum, @gospel_project!

So there are the basics. Think you’re ready to get started? If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here or email me: katie.decillo@lifeway.com. I’d love to help you out!

I’ll be back soon with more tips and tricks–stay tuned!



2012 Club VBS: SpaceQuest!

Hey guys!  I’m thrilled to be bringing you a little bit of fun info about this year’s club VBS, SpaceQuest!  I think space is AWESOME, and I’m excited to see what you guys are coming up with to help bring the whole theme together this year.

If you aren’t familiar with this year’s theme, it’s based on John 14:6 (HCSB), “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Kids will have a galaxy full of fun as they learn all about Jesus’ mission for them.

One of the things I love about Club VBS is the flexibility of the material– not only does it work in a traditional VBS setting, but you could also use it over Spring Break, Fall Break, or even for a midweek gathering!  The material provides a two-hour schedule for five days, or one-hour schedule for ten days!  You could even use SpaceQuest as your material for a fun day camp.

Like the main VBS theme, there are Bible study, craft, and recreation/snack rotations.  During the two-hour daily SpaceQuest plan, kids will attend Worship Rally and travel to three rotation sites.

Flexibility is key here; the materials are usable with any Bible translation, and mission stories are available on the Web as a free download.

So what are we learning about this year as part of SpaceQuest?  Well, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Preschoolers will learn that they can thank God for Jesus, show love to Jesus and others, remember what Jesus did, learn that Jesus showed God’s love for all people, and tell others about Jesus.  (Life Application, Days 1-5)

Older children will learn they can celebrate and worship Jesus, give their best to Jesus, choose to do what God wants them to do, accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, and tell others about Jesus!  (Life Application, Days 1-5)

The best part?  You can find everything you need to get started on your space journey right here!  And isn’t the art super cute?

Is your church using SpaceQuest this year?  Tell us how you’re utilizing the materials and share some of your planning and decorating tips with others who may need some help!

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Customer Service

Last Friday Courtney and I had the great privilege of spending time with our WONDERFUL folks in customer service. They have to know SO much about SO many things we produce here at LifeWay. Courtney and I went to help them know what was new for VBS 2012.

We had a grand greeting from Steve Wheeler!

Steve Wheeler welcomed us to Customer Service Training.

We served snacks! I have a servant’s heart, but not a servant’s coordination.

I think I need a hand!

Courtney demonstrated some of our fun stuff.

How many VBS products can you spot?

I told how kids will get to experience our Awesome God and His Amazing Power!

Encountering God's Amazing Power!

Some of the customer service folks really came ready for VBS! Way to go David!

David Counsellor reporting for duty!

Courtney and I had SO much fun. What great folks! You’ll get to talk with them when you call in your VBS or Club VBS orders! Tell them Rhonda and Courtney said, “Hi!”

LifeWay.com — Phone Orders
Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CT
Monday – Friday

(800) 458-2772

Headed back to the office, tired but happy!

On the Road Again! (well almost)

Road trip! This week we’re packing our bags and heading for Ridgecrest, North Carolina. We may have just spent the holiday with kith and kin (what are kith, anyway?). But, we are just as excited to spend our January visiting with VBS friends we know and making lots of new ones!

The calendar may be showing 2012 for the first time, but we’ve been living 2012 for months now! And, it’s time to clear the runway! Take off! Get this bird in the air! (Guess my brain is a bit overloaded with aeronautical phrases. It’s an occupational hazard, I guess. I love themes!)

Will you be joining us? I sure hope so! This feels like that “I’m going on a trip” game. I’m going to VBS Previews and I’m taking an Amazing Wonders Aviation T-shirt. (That’s my item starting with an “A”! Who can add something with a “B” and then a “C”… ??)

Come by the Expo and say hello! And, Happy New Year!

Jeff Slaughter – A VBS Legend!

For the past 17 years, millions of children and families through VBS have benefited from a talented and enthusiastic music minister whose name is synonymous with VBS.

Jeff Slaughter, the songwriter for LifeWay Christian Resources’ Vacation Bible School team, has decided 2012 will be his last season writing, traveling, performing and teaching with our VBS team.

God has given Jeff new dreams and new visions. We will miss him and pray that God continues to use him. We want you to join us as we celebrate Jeff and his years of creative ministry at all the upcoming 2012 VBS preview events.

At each event, Jeff’s contributions, creativity and career highlights will be celebrated with a video tribute connected to the performance of the Amazing Wonders Aviation musical.

Jeff was originally enlisted in 1997 to create high-energy music written specifically for each year’s VBS theme. With the introduction of The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede, Jeff and LifeWay’s VBS became synonymous. Since then, Jeff has produced 22 VBS themes and 133 songs (including 30 songs specifically for preschoolers) for both the mainline and Club VBS.

Jeff’s contribution has helped shape VBS as it is known today. His music has reached into the hearts of kids and the motions he choreographed have helped the lyrics become personal and the message of Christ memorable.

Jeff has also been a highlight of these events, where he shares the stories behind the songs and teaches the accompanying motions firsthand.

The VBS team appreciates Jeff and his creative contributions. We’ve had a tremendous relationship with him. God has not only used Jeff to impact the lives of millions but he has impacted each of us here at LifeWay.

For most of us, the relationship extends beyond “work” to personal, everyday friendship.
We look forward to continued ministry with him throughout the 2012 VBS season and honoring him at the preview events.

Jeff will continue to be a vital part of LifeWay’s CentriKid Camps.

As part of our tribute to Jeff, the VBS team is creating a book of memories, photos, and letters. We would like to invite you to help by sending a note of thanks and best wishes or a story about your favorite VBS song.

Send your message to kidsministry101@lifeway.com. If you would like to send a photo (no larger than 5×7), send it to me, Jerry Wooley, MSN 182, LifeWay Christian Resources, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, Tennessee 37234. Messages and photos must be received by Friday, December 30.

Love you Jeff.

Old Blue – Taking VBS to the World!

Please meet Old Blue. He may look like a used up old trunk to you but he has served as a faithful and trusted LifeWay Christian Resources, Wichita-Archer-Clay Baptist Association, Camp Reach Vacation Bible School and Reach English Camp friend.

During the winter of 2011 Old Blue carried a heavy load of both Big Apple and Beach Blast materials from Sea to Shining Sea and from Music City to Cow Town. He even got lost during the Ice Storm of the century but thankfully found his way home. He had a hard time telling the nice man in brown that Wichita, Kansas was not the same as Wichita Falls, Texas!!

Just when he thought it was time to rest he was then called upon to obtain a passport and navigate his way across the Pacific Ocean to South Korea. He was loaded down with materials and supplies that were donated by the great churches here in Wichita-Archer-Clay and the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Old Blue served bravely and unselfishly in the amazing city of Seoul at Kangnam Central Baptist Church. He carried not only the life saving gospel messages found in the Big Apple Adventure but also ESL materials used at Reach English Camp. American teachers and lay leaders from Texas, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee were able to share hands-on the lessons of how Faith, Life and Language can connect. Because of the connection 24 children said they wanted to know more about Jesus Christ.

After 20 busy days in Seoul he was then loaded on a bus by his new Korean guardian Hyejung “P.J.” Yun to share his valuable life changing contents with churches in the southern Korean provinces. Children all throughout South Korea can now be seen wearing green foam Statue of Liberty crowns, finding their way in the dark with Big Apple taxi flashlights and rapping “Why Don’t You”!!

Oh, but wait, he was not finished – he was called upon one last time to pass through airport security to enter the country of Cambodia! Old Blue had the honor of not only taking the message of Christ to the children of Cambodia through the avenue of Vacation Bible School he also was given the responsibility of carrying life saving medical and dental supplies for the Medical Mission teams from Kangnam. He was a long way from North Central Texas but the contents he carried had been prayed over and prepared from the hearts and hands of Wichita-Archer-Clay churches.

Old Blue may look a little battered and weary, but like most of us who have traveled a few miles and back again for Vacation Bible School- we like Old Blue are ready to peel off the old tape, pack up or supplies, refresh our testimony and do it all over again!! New themes, new adventures, new friends, – but always sharing and carrying the same life saving and life changing story – Jesus.

I challenge you to be praying about your part of Vacation Bible School 2012. Like Old Blue, where might it take you?

In His Sight,
Debbie Heck and Old Blue

Foto Friday. . .VBS Logos! ! !

Hi everyone! It’s your fun-loving VBS graphic designer (who happens to love numbers as well. . .I know, I’m weird) and it’s that time of the week. . .Foto Friday!!! Why do I bring up the, “I love numbers” thing? I’m glad you asked! As Carol has stated in her “VBS By the Numbers” post, I like to check the number of views my blog posts receive and I’ve realized that my “Clip Art” post has had a lot of views! I also field a lot of calls, emails, etc about people wanting the past VBS logos.

So, I decided this week will be the VBS logos from 1997 (Good New Stampede) to 2012 (Amazing Wonders Aviation)! By the way, I have worked on every single one except Good News Stampede! My first day at LifeWay was the very first day of writer’s conference for StarQuest.


1997's Good News Stampede

1998's StarQuest

1999 Mt. Extreme


2000's Ocean Odyssey


2001's Truth Trackers


2002's Amazon Outfitters


2003's Kingdom Capers


2004's Rickshaw Rally


2005' Ramblin' Road Trip


2006's Arctic Edge


2007's Game Day Central


2008's Outrigger Island


2009's Boomerang Express


2010's Saddle Ridge Ranch


2011's Big Apple Adventure


2012's Amazing Wonders Aviation

Foto Friday. . .Wallpapers!

Well, it’s Friday again and you know what that means. . . .Foto Friday! ! ! Woohoo! As I was thinking about this week’s blog post, I started thinking about what all I have designed this week and that was wallpaper! No, not for my office. . .for our VBS Web site! I’ll tell you what, it was a lot of fun. . .almost too much fun! I had so many ideas running through my head, that it was hard to land on just a few.

After turning in the artwork to our web people, I realized, I didn’t do any wallpaper for VBX! That’s my product! We need VBX wallpaper! So, I decided to work on 2 designs and post them here!

Oh, by the way, you all might ask. . .  “what is your computer’s wallpaper”. . .well, I’m glad you asked!

It’s this!

LOL! I did this as a joke to our IT guys! By the way, my desktop is NOT this clean! See that little folder called, “Desktop”? I moved everything in there to take this picture! lol!

I hope you all enjoy the VBX wallpaper that I worked on!

(1600px x 1200px)

(1600px x 1200px)

Here they are in smaller sizes.

(1024px x 768px)

(1024px x 768px)

First Official Geek of the Week – Debbie Muller

I am so excited that I get to introduce one of my Illinois friends as the First Official VBS Geek of the WeekDebbie Muller works for the Illinois Baptist State Association in Springfield, Illinois and is a MEGA VBS FAN. She got our team’s attention at previews with her custom designed VBS jewelry. (Check out that subway token bling on her ears! Debbie is the one on the right.)

Debbie's VBS Bling!

Illinois hosts one of our earliest early bird conferences and Debbie volunteers every year to get things ready… in a BIG WAY!! Jerry Wooley often comes “back to the ranch” with tales about how they outdid themselves again this year. Here’s evidence of one of his IL trips! According to Debbie, this fully operational bull ride was given to one of the IL cowboy churches after Saddle Ridge Ranch was over. I guess VBS rides again!

Ride 'em, Jerry!

I asked Debbie some questions about her passion for VBS. Here’s part of our interview:

Me: What has been your “geekiest” VBS moment?

Debbie: For Arctic Edge we borrowed a moose head and hauled it all the way across town in the back of a pick-up truck. Oh, the looks we got!! We had to work to hang the thing with moving straps, then carefully suggest that folks might not want to stand under it… just in case!

(She also had great stories about big foam medical boxes she got for free, but covered up so much of the windshield, she could hardly see out. Or driving all over Illinois with a car filled with surfboards… think about that one for a minute and it’ll hit you! Or driving down the interstate with a Ramblin’ Road Trip travel trailer in the bed of her pickup truck! She had me laughing so hard I think I disturbed all my hallway office neighbors!)

Me: What is your favorite VBS theme to date?

Debbie: That’s hard because I like them all. But, I really like Ramblin’ Road Trip because I had actually been to all those places and had pictures and stories to share.

Me: What makes you continue to do VBS year after year?

Debbie: I just love it. It’s hard to explain – it’s like chocolate, you just gotta have it! I just have that much fun with it.

Me: How would you complete this sentence? You might be a VBS Geek if …

Debbie: You can sing ALL the VBS songs. My knees still hurt when I sing “Jehovah Jireh.” I don’t do rap, but I rapped John 3:16!

Love that VBS music!

Me: Will we see you at one of the VBS Previews?

Debbie: I’m bringing a van full to Nashville! I’m helping as a volunteer in Expo! Woo hoo!

Debbie (on the right) loves takin' it to the streets!!

Debbie’s enthusiasm was contagious as she talked about past VBS experiences and the “it’ll do everything but fly” airplane her husband is building for Amazing Wonders Aviation next year. But, what really impressed me the most was her true spirit of what VBS is all about – telling kids about Jesus. Debbie not only volunteers to help with state and local training of workers, but she works!! Debbie volunteers at 3 or 4 VBS’s every summer in addition to working in her own church’s VBS. Now THAT’S passion!

Thanks, Debbie, for all you do for the Kingdom! And for saying, “Yeh-yeh-yeh-yeh- yes! to Vuh-vuh-vuh-VBS!!”