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!

VBS in a Cemetery? Now that experiential!

So, have you given much thought to conducting VBS for youth? I sure hope so because VBS is not only a great way to tell teens about Jesus Christ, but it is a unique opportunity to have an unexpected adventure in the process.

Sue Harmon, tireless VBS promoter for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, shared the following note from Laura Owens of Westminster Baptist Church, Westminster, South Carolina.

“I wanted to share with you how our Youth-Style VBS went during Spring Break. We had a great, although exhausting week! I didn’t think it was possible to wear out middle school boys but I did! We averaged 12 youth and adults through the week, which worked great for transportation and for Bible study discussions.

On Monday of the week we picnicked at Issaqueena Falls and acted out the parting of the Red Sea using blue tablecloths. The youth then painted rocks to remind them of God’s power over creation.

On Tuesday we went to the Greenville Zoo as we learned about Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Unfortunately, the lions were sleeping and not very threatening, but we were able to pose with some bronze lions. The boys also loved mimicking the monkeys!

On Wednesday we held Bible study in the middle of a creek with youth sitting on both sides of the river bank. The idea was to show that sin separates us from God just like they were separated from their friends as they sat on opposite banks. At the end of the lesson I walked across a bridge above the river to demonstrate that Jesus is our bridge and connection to God.

Our recreation activity was an egg toss, which spread partners farther apart just as sin separates us from God and makes it difficult for us to have a growing relationship with Him.

On Thursday we went to a nearby cemetery to discuss the resurrection of Jesus. We also talked about what will happen when we die for those who are believers and for those who are not. The students were a little uneasy about being in a cemetery, but it provided the perfect backdrop for discussing God’s power over death.

On Friday we held our final Bible study at the church as we discussed ways God wants to use our lives for His glory.

Our week culminated with a trip to Stone Mountain, Georgia, where we watched a different kind of light show on the side of a granite rock.

Our youth were also able to make several decorations for the children’s VBS week which thrilled our children’s teachers since it is one less thing for them to worry about.

Our youth also marked their Bibles with step-by-step instructions on how to lead a child to Christ, which I pray they will get an opportunity to use during school or this summer during Children’s VBS.

The week was truly incredible, and was a great bonding experience for the youth who had recently joined our youth group.”

To discover more about this incredible experiential VBS, check out “A Fresh Take on Youth VBS” from the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Special thanks to Sue for sharing this great story.

Northern Lights – God’s Amazing Wonder

One of the most interesting of God’s amazing wonders being visited during VBS 2012 surely must be the Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis.

Elusive to most, difficult to describe, and almost impossible to explain, yet one of God’s greatest reminders of His power, creativity, and attention to detail.

Using time-lapse photography, NASA has provided a stunning view from the International Space Station as God turns the night sky into one of His amazing wonders. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Jeremy Echols for sharing this information.

Foto Friday. . .Black & White Clip Art

In last week’s blog, Robin asked if we had the map art in a black & white (B/W) version. Well, we didn’t. . .at that time. . but now, we do! So I decided to go back and convert some of our clip art into a B/W version for today’s blog post. I just picked a few. Honestly, as I look back, I have posted quite a bit of clip art! lol!

Continue reading

Out of This World Decorating

I know there are a lot of you out there who are getting ready to launch Club VBS: SpaceQuest as your summer VBS experience. While SpaceQuest may not have as many ready-made decorations available as Amazing Wonders Aviation, there are some incredible things you can do to transform your space and give your kids an “out of this world” experience! So if you’re looking for some stellar (or should I say “interstellar”) decorating ideas, then you’ve come to the right place. Check out these cute decorating ideas.

Kids will be ready to blast off when they get to have their picture made in this cute rocket ship!

Here’s a cute shuttle made out of cardboard.

Use metallic fabrics and gift bags to add just a hint of the theme to any Bible-learning activity. Check out the cute star-shaped tree topper!

I love the use of hanging stars and the backlit stars along the ceiling.

Darkening the room with black paper or fabric is a good substitute for turning off the lights in the room to get the feel of the black void of space.

Want more ideas? How about these quick & easy tricks…

  • Drape white, blinking Christmas lights around the doorway or hang them from the ceiling.
  • Line the hallway with rope lights leading to the room. Cut out large numbers from construction paper and arrange them down the hall moving from 10 to 1. Tape them to the wall or place them on the floor, covered with clear contact paper. Kids will enjoy counting down to “lift off” as they come and go from their room.
  • Paint various sizes of Styrofoam balls to resemble planets and hang them from the ceiling using fishing line.
  • Create a focal area on one wall using cardboard. Paint it to look like the inside of a shuttle’s cockpit. Punch Christmas lights through from the backside and attach Slinkys or dryer vent hose to the front for a 3-D “space age” look.

Want even more? Check out our awesome Pinterest board dedicated exclusively to SpaceQuest! For an overview of the Bible content, click here. For answers to commonly asked questions about SpaceQuest, click here.