Say Y-E-S to Preschool V-B-S!

VBS season is in full swing & while all of you have been gearing up for VBS in your churches, all of us on the VBS team have been doing the same thing! It is so wonderful to get to experience VBS “from the trenches”… not as a job but as Kingdom work! I taught kindergartners this year… 31 of them, in fact! Out of those 31, only 7 were from my church. VBS really is an incredible outreach tool!

This year, my church tried something a little bit different. We added a second worship rally to our schedule that was specifically for preschoolers & kindergartners. The morning kicked off for 1st-6th graders with the traditional Worship Rally, but preschoolers started the morning in their respective rooms. Then at 9:40 (when all of the big kids had cleared out), we got to fly in for a worship rally designed just for us! We had a fabulous leader who basically modified the preschool music rotation teaching plans so that we could sing songs, play instruments, move around, and talk about the daily Bible stories in ways that just wouldn’t fly if preteens were in the room. But it was perfect for preschoolers! We even had time for offerings and practicing the theme song each day.

The kids’ favorite song from the week had to be one called “Always”… and it played a significant part in one of my all-time favorite VBS memories. The song lyrics are almost identical to preschool’s Day 2 verse: “Be strong. Do not be afraid. God is with you” (Joshua 1:9). On Wednesday morning one of my kindergartners came in the door and walked straight to me. “Miss Melita,” she said, “last night at bedtime I got kind of scared. But then I remembered that song. I sang it to myself probably 4-20 times. And you know what? It worked! God was with me, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”

WOW! A 6-year-old child connected the truth of the Bible to a real life situation because she had “hidden it in her heart” through song. Wow! That’s what it’s all about!

Here’s a little video of “Always” from our preschool worship rally. And if you’re really good, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Gordon, too! Enjoy!

Always — preschool worship rally

VBS 2014? Really?

Believe it or not, LifeWay’s VBS team is already thinking 2014!

Now you know why I am constantly in danger of post-dating checks a year or two in advance! Seriously, scheduled online payment of my utility bills only to receive past due notices on them all. It seems I was living a year – a hazard of all VBS Groupies – in advance and dated payments with the wrong year.

At any one time I am collecting VBS reports from the previous year, responding to VBS questions from the current year, planning VBS events for the next year, and dreaming VBS for two years away. This is truly the best job in the world!

Now, to the real topic of this post – VBS Missions Rotation.

As many of you are in the midst of VBS 2012, and as we begin planning for VBS 2014, I am interested in how you use LifeWay’s Missions Rotation resources for both preschoolers and children.

  • If your church does not include the Mission Rotation, why not?
  • If you do not use them during VBS, do you use them at another time or in conjunction with another ministry? Explain.
  • If you do use the resources, what do you most like about them?
  • What would you like to see changed?
  • How do you incorporate the suggested hands-on mission project?
  • How could the hands-on project be more effective for your church?

You can respond here or send your comments and suggestions to me at jerry.wooley@lifeway.com.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Front Yard, Backyard, and All Around the House!

From my years as an older teenager and young adult, I remember being involved in several VBS-type ministries known as Backyard Bible Clubs and Big A Clubs. These clubs were a simplified or scaled-down version of VBS and were an effective way of reaching families – many of which would never attend an event on a church campus.

During all the years since, the concept of Backyard Bible Club (BBC for short) has survived mostly in connection to mission trips. But a new wind is blowing, and the concept of BBCs is experiencing revival all across the country – especially by larger congregations that have a regional influence beyond an individual neighborhood or community.

Once it was thought that BBCs were staffed by a couple of people and primarily attended by a dozen or so kids who lived within view of the designated yard. This trend is changing as more and more BBCs are becoming evangelistic outposts for entire neighborhoods.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting a BBC not far from my own neighborhood. Four years ago the Club registered approximately 12. The next year, 20. Around 40 the third year. And this year – drum roll please – over 60 kids and adults descended nightly on the front yard, backyard, garage, and bonus room of the Nashville area home of Vicki Hulsey.

While Miss Vicki (all polite Southern children refer to their female neighbors as “Miss”) generously opens her home for the annual BBC, she has extended the evangelistic potential by gathering the children and their families throughout the year for other neighborhood activities and parties. Her home has become a true outpost of Hermitage Hills Baptist Church.

This story is phenomenal so stay turned for more.

For now I would like to hear your BBC stories. You can share them here or send them to me at jerry.wooley@lifeway.com.

In 2013 we are introducing Backyard Kids Club as a new component to Colossal Coaster World. We will be telling you more about this exciting ministry resource in days to come. So again, stay tuned!

Shirttail Tag Anyone?

It is often assumed that as the vbsguy I obviously direct VBS at my church – Nashville’s Inglewood Baptist Church – but actually I haven’t been a VBS director in more years than I care to count.

During my 20 plus years on church staff I had ultimate responsibility for VBS, but usually had a volunteer VBS director. For most of those years, which were spent at Park Place Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, the director was Dava Donaho, who taught me most of what I know about efficiently organizing and managing the details of VBS.

Since moving to Nashville in 2006, I have participated in VBS by mostly serving as an assistant teacher or helper. This has given me a great opportunity to experience VBS and LifeWay’s curriculum from many vantage points.

In the past six years I have served multiple times as the teacher for adult VBS, on the security team for youth VBS, served as a helper/group leader in VBX, a co-teacher in 1st-2nd Grade Bible Study, and this year the most fun assignment of all – co-leader for recreation! Shirttail Tag! Paper Plane Relay!

Thought you might enjoy a few pictures from our rainy-evening retreat indoors, where recreation included Great Barrier Reef cupcakes and a highly competitive paper plane relay.

Wonder what my assignment will be next year????

Now Back to 2012!

Yesterday we had great fun revealing Colossal Coaster World, the hair raising theme for VBS 2013. I heard from many of you who are already planning “research” trips (a.k.a. family adventures) to amusement parks to prep. I have visited a couple myself in the past few months – purely for “research” mind you – and hope to visit one or two more by the time we introduce the theme for VBS 2014! So little time, so many roller coasters to ride!

But before we get too carried away with VBS 2013 we need to fly back to VBS 2012. More Bible schools will be held this week than any other week of the year. This means in the next few days I will start receiving thousands of VBS Reports. Actually, I have already received a few from churches holding VBS during Spring break.

Each year we mail a personalized VBS Report form to every church in the Southern Baptist Convention – some 46,000 plus. The 2012 Report Form was mailed out last week and should be arriving at your church any day now. WATCH FOR IT!

This form will already have your church name, address, and Southern Baptist Directory Services (SBDS) identification number and password. Using the ID and password you can enter your VBS information directly into the SBDS reporting system. You can also use the provided contact information to mail or FAX your completed report form.

This report is a Southern Baptist Convention report and not a LifeWay report. We encourage you to report your VBS whether you use curriculum from LifeWay, another publisher, or create your own. We also encourage you to report your VBS even if you call it something other than VBS.

In the event you can not locate the personalized report form you can always use the one provided in the Administrative Guide for Directors.

The data from this report helps us evaluate the effectiveness of the VBS ministry. Did you know VBS has been around for over 100 years and is still the largest outreach ministry conducted by most churches.

Thanks for all you do to promote the life changing ministry of VBS, and I look forward to reading your report!