Download and print these fun coloring sheets to get kids (and adults!) excited about VBS! This is also a great activity for families to do at home. You can share this download link with parents via email or social media.
Print out these fun coloring pages for church or home! Encourage kids to hang up their artwork (with a parent’s permission) somewhere they will see it often to help them memorize scripture.
Coloring pages by Sarah Humphrey. Sarah is a wife and homeschool mom to three kids while also working as an artist, author, and voice actor. Her writing and doodling can be found in her devotional, “40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood” and her voice in several commercials, children’s books, and audiobooks.
ETCH Family Ministry Conference is back—live and in person—with the opportunity to attend in Nashville or online via live simulcast. We’re looking forward to REUNITE together in person in the safest way possible. To that end, we’re limiting the number of attendees for the in-person event. ETCH 2021 will sell out, so be ready to reserve your spot as soon as registration opens! Although space is limited for the in-person event, there are no limits for the simulcast. So if you can’t make it to Nashville, we want you to join us from your neck of the woods!
You’ll have two options to attend: (1) Bring your team to Nashville. We’re so excited to be back together again with you! (2) Gather your entire team and watch the simulcast together live. (Special pricing is available for churches hosting a watch party.) You can’t go wrong with either option! Both will allow you to participate in breakouts (in-person attendees will get to choose which breakouts to attend), worship together, learn from age-group ministry experts, be challenged by great Bible teachers, hone your skills, and equip your entire team for the next season of ministry.
2020 was a difficult season for everyone. It’s time to come back together. It’s time to celebrate. It’s time to REUNITE. It’s time to praise God for His faithfulness through the difficult times and to celebrate coming together again as the body of Christ!
The focal passage for ETCH: Reunite is Ephesians 4:4–6: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
As we study Ephesians 4 together in the main sessions, you will be challenged to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). As you attend breakouts, it is our hope that you will be equipped for and reenergized in your calling.
Whether you choose to join us online or in-person, we hope you will reunite your team and experience ETCH together.
Get your tickets today at etchconference.com
Melita Thomas serves as Lifeway’s VBS and Kids Ministry Specialist. For the past 14 years she has also been an editor of Lifeway’s VBS resources. Melita holds a masters degree in Childhood Ministry from Dallas Baptist University. A passionate advocate for kids ministry in the local church, Melita enjoys teaching kindergartners and preteens at Nashville First Baptist Church.
This easy craft helps kids understand the faithfulness of God! As kids do the craft, discuss the story of Noah and how God promised never to flood the earth in the same way again. Download the Noah’s ark craft here.
2020 was a challenging season for ministry—and 2021 is (so far) proving no less difficult! But that doesn’t mean we can continue to delay or postpone strategic ministry opportunities until a time that is (hopefully) more convenient. Ministry to children cannot be deterred or deferred. It’s simply too important! For most churches, 2020 meant that they couldn’t conduct regular church programming and special events in the same ways as usual. Sunday School went virtual. Worship was livestreamed. There was certainly a learning curve, but many churches saw that once they broke out of the same old mold they’ve been using for years, their creativity kicked in and the work of ministry continued in new, fresh, and exciting ways.
It’s time to do the same thing for Vacation Bible School! VBS is one of the largest evangelistic outreaches of the year for many churches. It consistently accounts for one-quarter of ALL baptisms in a given year. It has the potential to open more doors in your community than any other single week on the church calendar. That’s why it’s so important to say YES to VBS this summer—no matter what it looks like! You can have a VBS in-person, in the park, in the home, or any way in between. Where and how doesn’t matter … it’s the WHY that counts. It’s worth it to your kids to say yes to VBS this summer! It’s worth it to your community to say yes to VBS! It’s worth it to the kingdom to say yes to VBS!
This summer, whether you’re in person, online, or somewhere in between, Lifeway wants to help you say yes to VBS! We’ve identified four creative (and safe) ways VBS can happen in 2021 and a whole set of resources to help you be successful, no matter which option you choose. I’m particularly excited about the new resources designed especially for virtual VBS, which include:
- Daily Bible story videos (5 for preschoolers, 5 for kids)
- Virtual VBS Directors Guide (with activity adaptations for Bible study, rec, and crafts)
- Family Connection Bundle (take home resources for families to do together)
- Kids Craft Bundle (individual, pre-packaged crafts for each day)
- VBS at Home on Ministry Grid (videos and written prompts to equip parents to lead a VBS experience at home)
The time to say yes to VBS is now. Pick a format and commit to it. Begin preparing now so that you are well positioned to pivot as needed. Remember, no matter how you say yes to VBS this summer—Lifeway’s got you covered! Learn more at https://vbs.lifeway.com/yes-to-vbs/
These days, especially these days, our kids can easily isolate themselves in their rooms, on their screens, doors shut, earbuds in. And sometimes, it’s just easier that way, isn’t it? Not having to confront them with hard conversations; not asking a question, only to be the recipient of an eyeroll or a heavy sigh. And they’re thinking the same thing on the other side of that door. It is a lot easier.
But easier is not better.
It’s time to take a risk of rejection and start pursuing our kids. Truly pursuing them.
Today’s generation is said to be the loneliest generation ever. (I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty lonely right now, myself.) We can do our part to help them through this, by letting them know we care, that they’re loved, and that they’re important. And maybe even letting them know we actually LIKE them!
- Timing is everything. Find times that your kids are at ease and more open to a little conversation. This could be at dinner, in the car, at bedtime. You’ll know when.
- Have some questions in mind to get discussion started.
- What was your favorite part of the day?
- What was the hardest part of your day?
- If you could stop doing one thing forever, what would it be?
- What’s something that you’re looking forward to?
As time goes by, doors will open for deeper discussions. But caution! Don’t try to jump there too quickly—they’ll get suspicious and ask what you’ve been reading. (I speak from experience!)
I read recently that the entire Bible is the story of God pursuing us. Don’t you love that? Doesn’t it make you feel loved knowing that God desires a relationship with you? Imagine how your kids will feel when they realize that you truly desire a relationship with them. Start showing them now.
Enjoy the pursuit! It’s worth it!
Klista Storts serves as an Editorial Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Kids. Before coming to Lifeway, she served as the Weekday and Preschool Specialist at the Tennessee Baptist Convention and as Director of Preschool Ministries at churches in Oklahoma and Tennessee. Klista has a passion for equipping leaders to share the love of Christ and lay foundations for conversion in the lives of kids.
Print out the tags below. Attach them to carrot-shaped cellophane bags filled with candy and hand them out on Easter to teachers or volunteers. If your church is meeting virtually, consider a porch drop-off for volunteers.
by Lynley Mandrell
Confession: I have zero stage presence. In every church, there are those anointed few that God bestowed with a bubbly, magnetic aura. You know who I’m talking about. The lady that can command the attention of seventeen squirming kids, recounting an Old Testament story like it happened yesterday, and even break out into a silly dance that causes the kids to cackle.
I’ve always wanted to be that life-of-the-party person. In fact, for many years, my New Year’s resolution was to suddenly turn on the “fun” switch. Well, God hasn’t morphed my personality but I have grown to accept that the gifts He gave me are enough, and my passion is to help others find their sweet spot in ministry. That’s why volunteer ministry stirs my heart like nothing else.
A quick word about my background. Years ago, my husband and I launched a church in the West. Since God placed us in a land flowing with little kids, it was obvious that we needed a first-class children’s ministry. Since I had four of my own involved, this felt like a natural place to dig in. At first, I was terrified by the title of Director of Kids Ministry (lack of fun factor mentioned above), but with time I realized how thrilling it is to see families engaging and enjoying church.
Though the job was fulfilling, it was also very challenging. The greatest challenge, of course, is the monstrous job of finding—and keeping—volunteers. Loving on the volunteers should be at the top of the list for kids ministry pros. It took time for me to learn this lesson, but I would love to share a few tips I discovered:
Finding and Keeping Volunteers
- Avoid the temptation to hire it out.
Utilize volunteers for as long as you can. Stay lean and avoid the temptation to pay people. There are so many gifted people in your church, able to serve, if you cast vision and empower them.
- Don’t be afraid to ASK!
Asking your pastor to pressure the people from the pulpit is always a temptation but the better way to build a strong team is by recruiting them yourself, through personal invitation. There is power in the personal. Ask people to serve. Pick up the phone, shoot a text, or even better—approach them face-to-face. All you have to say is: “You seem like a really fun person…have you ever thought about serving in the kids ministry?” All the person can say is no. They won’t hurt you.
- Be a gift giver.
Monthly, or quarterly, give them a thoughtful gift. Don’t leave it in a room for them to grab. Roll a cart around to each room, fully stocked with snacks and drinks, and smile. In doing this, you are screaming “You are seen! You are needed! You are appreciated!” People don’t need another snack. They need a leader that cares about them.
- Host “office hours.”
Rather than emailing pdfs, or shouting in the hallways on Sunday morning, choose a better route. Invite the volunteers to pop by during the week. When things are calm, you can slowly show them around, hand them a copy of your policies and procedures, explain how Sunday morning works, and simply spark a relationship. Become their friend. Remember the old adage: “People want to work with you, not for you.”
- Invent opportunities for those who are “tired of kids.”
Create jobs in your kids area for those who don’t enjoy the classroom. Many young moms, for example, feel the burden to pitch in, but are coasting on fumes every week. Invite them to write monthly birthday cards, or to lend a hand in follow-up. They could be classroom cleaners, restockers, or craft-builders. These types of things can be done during the week and they are still making a difference on Sunday.
- Watch the back door.
If you have a volunteer coordinator, communicate often about those who are drifting away. Call that person and check on them. Be sensitive to the battles they may be facing in life. Ask if they have any ideas or suggestions on how things could be improved for the volunteers. Assure them that if they’re feeling disillusioned, others probably are as well and you need their feedback in order to grow as a leader.
Many hands make light work. I hope these tips are helpful as you strive to build a solid team in your kids area!
Lynley Mandrell is the wife of Ben Mandrell, the new president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, Ben and Lynley spent five years in Denver, CO, planting a church designed to reach the unchurched. She is a mother of four and a fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Dr Pepper, and silence.
One of the most celebrated weeks in the lives of Christians is Easter week, or Holy week. Many churches schedule multiple events throughout Holy week, starting with Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. While churches will vary in how they observe the events of Holy week, all of these are great days to celebrate both with your church and your family. One great way to celebrate at home is through a guided family devotional. Resurrection Sunday and the events leading up to it, provide a simple outline for starting or continuing “at home” discipleship.
From the triumphal entry through resurrection Sunday, Lifeway Kids invites you to download this brand new 8-day family devotional that will guide parents and kids through Bible readings, discussion questions, and family activities that will equip parents to have gospel conversations in their homes.
A July 2020 study from Barna suggested one in three practicing Christians has stopped attending church during COVID-19. Specifically:
- 1 in 3 practicing Christians is still and only attending their pre-COVID church.
- 32 percent of practicing Christians have stopped attending church altogether during the pandemic.
- Half of practicing Christian millennials are not viewing services online.
Those are staggering and sobering statistics! The research took place over a two-week period at the height of U.S. social distancing measures during the pandemic (late April–early May 2020), so the findings have likely shifted. But it does point to a trend that many churches are experiencing as in-person gatherings resume—only about one-third of the congregation has returned. So what has happened to the remaining two-thirds of our otherwise active and engaged church members? Perhaps more importantly, what will it take to get them to come back?
Some have suggested that the two-thirds who have not yet returned should be treated as “prospects” rather than merely as absent members—at least in our approach to outreach and efforts to enfold them (back) into the life of our congregations. Experts suggest it will take that level of effort—the same amount of effort, the same frequency of contact—to win them back. There are many good and legitimate reasons people feel uncomfortable returning to “business as usual” at church. I am not suggesting they have all become complacent or lazy church members. But I do believe the reality of a slow return to “normal” will require extra effort. And I believe it has several implications for Vacation Bible School this summer.
First, a hesitance to return may impact your volunteer pool for VBS. You may not be able to count on some of your “go-to” volunteers to automatically sign up without needing to be actively recruited. It may take a personal phone call (or two), a personal ask over coffee, a reminder of the big picture and the importance of VBS to your church’s evangelism and discipleship strategies in order to get some volunteers to say YES to VBS. You’ll need to inspire them with the “heart” behind VBS and impress upon them the urgency of the task at hand. You’ll need to share your passion for the gospel and why we cannot afford to push it off until a time when it may feel more convenient. You’ll need to convince them that the job you want them to do during VBS is kingdom work and that it cannot be done by anyone else but them.
VBS is a great opportunity to attract people back to church. It’s a short-term commitment with measurable results that also provides opportunities for literally anyone and everyone to serve. Don’t feel comfortable being on campus yet? No problem; you can be in charge of online registration! Don’t want to be around kids yet? No problem; you can help prepackage snacks the week before! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to reacclimate your congregation to serving. Use VBS as a way of strategically enfolding adults and teens back in as they volunteer for VBS.
Secondly, if two-thirds of your church are not attending regularly and/or are not yet coming back, you may need to change the focus of your VBS this summer. As the largest evangelistic outreach event of the year for most churches, VBS is typically a community-minded event. This year, however, we may need to shift focus slightly to target our own church members first, and the community second. That is not to say we abandon the evangelistic mission of VBS. Rather, we use VBS as a strategic opportunity to reengage with kids and families who have not yet returned (and who may have missed out on VBS last year) and challenge them to bring an unchurched friend or family with them. Plan to follow up with each family after VBS (treating members the same as unchurched prospects) and use VBS as a springboard for enfolding that family into the broader church family.
Finally, we need to take a look at our strategy and adjust our plans as necessary. Many churches have already committed to an approach for VBS this summer—whether on campus, in a park or neighborhood, online, or a hybrid combination. That’s great! It’s important to commit early and make a plan. But as you do so, keep in mind the statistic about millennial’s engagement in online church activities. If 50% of millennials (these are the parents in your ministry) are not tuning in for church, can we realistically expect that they will tune in with their families for an online VBS? While a virtual VBS is certainly convenient (though no less work) and perhaps necessary for families who still need to remain safely at home, we need to keep in mind that these are temporary solutions that do not provide the same kind of engagement as in-person gatherings. If you’re planning an exclusively virtual VBS this summer, ask yourself: “What can we add or do to provide intentional opportunities for relationship-building and engagement through our VBS?” Look for ways to provide families more than just something else to watch. Create engagement and community—not consumers. Consumers will watch if they feel like it, don’t if something better comes along. Consumers don’t feel the same level of commitment or the longing to be part of what’s going on. Remember that the best way to share the gospel is in the context of relationship. Regardless of which direction you go for VBS 2021, look for ways that will allow relationships to develop naturally and draw people first to Christ, then back to His Church.