VBS & Fall Fest

Could there be a more perfect way to reuse VBS decorations than at your church’s fall festival? LifeWay Kids had our own fall festival last week… complete with food, candy, and games. Candace & I put our own spin on the classic “fish for a prize” game and totally decked out Candace’s office door with decorations from the Great Barrier Reef (Amazing Wonders Aviation).

You can check out more of the great games, booths, and decorations from our fall office party on the Kids Ministry 101 blog all this week!

We want to hear from you… Does your church do any kind of fall festival? How have you reused VBS decorations for other church/community events? Give us all some inspiration!

VBS 2013 on Pinterest!

It’s never too early to start planning, right? If you’re itching to get a jump on VBS 2013, check out our Colossal Coaster World board on the LifeWay Kids Pinterest site. There are already lots of great ideas. Here are some of my favorites…

What a cute hot dog cart! I wish I’d had this for Big Apple Advenure!Source: goscoutcreative.com via LifeWayKids on Pinterest

This is the same technique we used to create an “Enter” sign for Coaster Alley (Bible study) in our decorations. Fun!

Source: ohhappyday.com via LifeWayKids on Pinterest

A perfect roller coaster experience for younger preschoolers!

Source: ikea.com via LifeWayKids on Pinterest

What ideas have you come up with?  If you’re on Pinterest, leave us a link to your VBS 2013 board in the comment section!

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

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.

VBS Geek of the Week—Shelia Thomas

We interrupt this usual “Foto Friday” blog post to bring you a special edition of “VBS Geek of the Week.” Two “geeks” in one week? Man, VBS fans are awesome!

Let me introduce you to Shelia Thomas. Not only is she a VBS Director par excellence, she’s also a brand new mother-in-law since her daughter got married last weekend! Congratulations, Shelia, to you and your family!

We asked Shelia to answer a few questions about what makes her a true “VBS geek.” Here’s what she said…

1.  What is your role in VBS?

I am the VBS Director at my church (FBC Stevenson, AL) and have directed or co-directed for 16 years. I also co-direct my Associational Team (TN River Baptist Association) in the greatest VBS state—Alabama! I teach the music class for our Associational Training Conference and lead the Director’s Early Training.

2.  What was your “geekiest” moment?

My personal VBS motto is “Anything for Jesus!”  So I have LOTS of geeky moments.  However, here’s one of my favs…

One of the churches in our association was struggling in getting their people to come to training. They asked if we could come to them and share our passion for VBS.  Of course we agreed, because we LIVE to see people fired-up about Bible School! We showed up in full VBS attire with a car busting at the seams with all the props!  I must say, it was a blast and God answered our prayers for that church.  What a blessing!  However, on the way home I ran over a rather large piece of a blown-out tire which lodged under my bumper and well… my bumper was torn off.  The Highway Patrol came to my rescue very quickly and within an hour I was headed home! I politely thanked the officer and prepared to leave when the officer said, “You don’t recognize me, do you?”  I looked rather closely and realized that he was a former member of our church! After making my apologies, he replied, “That’s okay, Ms Shelia.  But I would have recognized you even without your VBS get-up and nametag!”  At that point I understood why so many vehicles slowed down, stared, and honked as I stood stranded on the side of the street.  I was in full “Saddle Ridge Ranch” duds and my car was “full-of-it” too.  Oh well, folks around these parts are accustomed to it now.  They say they can’t wait to see what we pull out of the hat next!

3. What makes you keep doing VBS?

The kids!!! Being able to see them worship “kids style” with uninhibited freedom, introducing them to my awesome God, building relationships with them and their families, and most of all the fact that God allows me to be a part of His amazing work. I am so humbled and thankful. I learn something new every year! Isn’t God good??

4.  What has been your favorite VBS theme?

That’s a hard one! I have truly loved every theme. Whenever I have felt challenged to bring a theme to life, God has always proved Himself faithful and provided more than I could hope or imagine! But we REALLY had a great time with “Saddle Ridge Ranch.” It seemed that all the adults got into that one… totally over the top! (Our float in the annual parade was the best ever!)

5.  You might be a VBS geek if…
Why stop at one answer? Shelia gave us a whole list!

  • You wait by the computer for the announcement of next year’s theme while you are completing plans for this year’s school! It’s like working two VBS themes at once!
  • Or, you write skits even from a hospital bed! You know, you have to make the most of your free time! It’s VBS on the brain, 24/7!
  • Or how about… you’re a real VBS geek if you see everything in terms of “How can I use this cardboard from my new pantyhose (or whatever you open that day) in Bible School this year?”
  • Or if you don’t mind standing on the side of the road in the most embarrassing outfit to gain attention for VBS!
  • How about, if you do VBS at your local Nursing Home? They love it, and it is an amazing sight to see those wheelchairs rocking to Jeff Slaughter’s music!
  • And, your kids are really proud that their mom is totally sold-out, freaky crazy gal who is proud to be called a “geek”!!!  (P. S. My kids and husband have caught the “geek” vision!  I could not be more proud!)

Sneak Peek Week: Decorating

It’s Sneak Peek Week here on the LifeWay VBS Blog! Every day this week we’ll be dropping a few hints about the 2013 theme (to be released June 4th) and giving you a heads-up about things you might want to hang on to after this summer’s VBS.

Up first, it’s a sneak peek at Amazing Wonders Aviation decorations you’ll want to save and recycle into decorations for VBS 2013. Are you ready? Here it goes…

  • Pillow stuffing (used as spray in Victoria Falls)
  • Leftover tokens
  • PVC pipe
  • Christmas tree lights (white or colored)

Hmmm… any ideas? I didn’t give a whole lot of information. Stay tuned for more!

One final thing… I need to give a shout out to my friend, Becky. Last week she sent me a picture of a perfect example of recycling old VBS decorations. Allow me to introduce you to Ace Dingo. He’s a cute little koala (remind anyone of Boomerang Express?) in a vintage flight suit flying an airplane made out of surfboards from Outrigger Island. Nice work, Becky!

Pilot Monologue

So many people have asked for a copy of the pilot monologue that was presented during Worship Rally at the VBS Preview events that we decided to post it here on our blog. The monologue gives a brief overview of the Bible content for each day of Amazing Wonders Aviation. Feel free to use it during your associational or church VBS training or in promotion of VBS in your own church!

Interesting fact: The “flight log entries” were taken from actual entries in a real pilot’s flight log from the 1960s.

[[Costume: aviator goggles, cap, scarf, and bomber jacket. Pilot enters, carrying flight log.]]

Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a pilot. My granddaddy was a pilot, so I guess it’s just in my blood. I can remember listening to him tell stories of the incredible places he’d been and thinking, “one day I’m gonna see those things for myself.” I have all of his old flight logs and I love flipping through them and reading the little notes he wrote next to each trip. Sometimes the notes are just the name of a person he ferried from one place to another. Sometimes they detail damage to the plane or repairs that were needed. But sometimes the notes seem to capture the moment of what he was experiencing from the cockpit.

Take this one… September 9th, 1932… “Rainbow & rain over Grand Canyon. Awesome sight. Awesome Creator.” Then later “Extreme turbulence & blowing dust to see Cedar Breaks & Bryce Canyons. Safely through by His hand.” Those few simple words are a reminder to me of an amazing God who has awesome power over nature. [[Day 1]] When the Israelites were preparing to enter the promised land, one thing stood between where they were and where they wanted to be… a wildly rushing river at flood stage. But the God of all creation stopped the water from flowing and the people crossed safely on dry ground. Amazing!

Let’s look at another one. April 22, 1934… “Heavy fog & limited visibility. Sudden hail storm & extensive damage to No. 2 engine forces emergency landing. God protected.” You can check and recheck every piece of equipment and weather conditions and sometimes circumstances are just out of your control. [[Day 2]] But I know there is a God who has power over circumstances! Daniel found himself in a situation out of his control. He landed himself in a lion’s den by praying to God instead of the king. But God closed the mouths of the lions and protected Daniel. Amazing!

But you know, the most amazing thing to me is that God has power over sin and over death. [[Day 3]] Remember that rainbow my grandfather saw over the Grand Canyon? Well it is a reminder of a promise God once made. But you know, God made an even more important promise to mankind. He promised to send a Savior. It was His own Son, Jesus. Can’t you just imagine the looks on Simeon and Anna’s faces when they saw Baby Jesus in the temple that day? They recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise! Now that’s amazing!

But the story didn’t end there. [[Day 4]] Jesus grew from a baby, to a boy, to a man. He lived a life without sin and yet was willing to pay the penalty for your sin and mine by dying on a cross. Then God, who has power over death, raised Jesus from the dead! Jesus died and rose again to be the Savior of the world. Nothing is more amazing than that!

[[Thumbs through log]] I’m glad my grandfather was a pilot. He instilled in me a love of adventure and a love of flying. But I’m especially glad that he was a man of great faith. [[Day 5]] He truly believed that God had power over his life and his circumstances. He met a lot of interesting people as a pilot, and he never shied away from telling them about our amazing God. In Acts 5, the apostles were being persecuted for performing miraculous healings and other signs and wonders. The high priest and the Sadducees arrested them and threw them in jail. But during the night an angel broke them out of prison and told them to go into the temple courts and tell people about their new life in Christ. Even when they were told to be quiet, they continued to boldly tell others about Jesus. God gave them power to be witnesses in difficult circumstances.

No matter what turbulence you encounter in life, remember the words of Psalm 147:5: “The Lord is great, vast in power; His understanding is infinite.”