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.
With VBS season approaching, it’s important to make sure your volunteers feel appreciated. This simple appreciation gift will get volunteers excited about VBS and let them know you’re grateful for them! Click here to download the instructions and tags.
Jeremy Johnson and Paul Marino join the podcast to discuss the behind the scenes how they made the music for VBS 2021.
Melita Thomas joins the podcast to discuss the importance of doing vbs and what VBS Previews will look like in January.
If you are like me, you may find yourself doing more and more shopping with a few keystrokes rather than walking into a store. Some of my “add to cart” choices have been great decisions, but others not so much. I’m learning which sites deliver what they promise and which don’t. Experience is teaching me which providers I prefer to trust with my choices and which ones are not so trustworthy.
This is true now more than ever in the world of VBS resources. You have lots of choices and the marketing taglines can make it hard to know which provider to choose. They all look great. However, when you consider the Kingdom significance that is often the result of this incredible week called VBS, that decision becomes incredibly important.
I know I may be biased because Lifeway’s VBS is a daily focus for our team. However, I know without a shadow of doubt, the quality of Lifeway’s VBS is amazing. It is truly one of the best.
All of Lifeway’s VBS resources are created, written, designed, and edited by people who work with kids on a regular basis in their churches. Content is vetted by theological and educational professionals. We have an amazing network of church volunteers and leaders who give us insight and help us stay in touch with the many varied communities of believers we serve. It is an honor to see the results that the ministry of VBS delivers and to realize how God is blessing.
To find out more about Lifeway’s VBS, check out the Winter issue of Kids Ministry 101 Magazine. You can also go to Lifeway’s VBS website to discover more about this year’s Concrete and Cranes®, see sample lessons, and listen to this year’s music.
Choosing a VBS resource is a huge decision. We believe Lifeway’s VBS is a decision you can trust.
Like many churches in our River Region, we hosted a Vacation Bible School this year at the beginning of June. For a week, the sound of happy children filled our halls and classrooms as boys and girls learned Bible stories about people who had “amazing encounters with Jesus.”
The Sunday morning before Vacation Bible School was to begin, we dedicated our morning worship service to VBS. The sanctuary was already decorated, the boys and girls led the music (and taught the grown-ups all the motions), and I preached on the VBS theme. We also had a commissioning service in which we prayed for the army of volunteers it takes to put on VBS.
I loved this service for a lot of reasons, and not just for the fact that I got to preach in a T-shirt and jeans instead of my normal “business casual” Sunday attire. Let me share a story with you that I hope encourages you. It definitely encouraged me to remember that the lessons of VBS aren’t just for kids.
The motto for our VBS was “Zoom In! Focus On Jesus!” So I taught the entire congregation the same motions I taught the kids:
Zoom In: cup your hands to your eyes like you are looking through binoculars
Focus On: Put your hand to your forehead like you are shielding your eyes from the sun, and look left and right
Jesus: Point Up
A senior adult lady was in the congregation that morning. I’ll call her Mrs. Mary. Mrs. Mary had been dealing with health issues for about six months, and when I greeted her after the service, she didn’t look well at all. As it turned out, this would be the last worship service Mrs. Mary attended. She went into the hospital on Monday. On Wednesday, I visited her. She was connected to a ventilator, but communicated to her family and friends through a combination of written notes and sign language.
I prayed with Mrs. Mary and read some Scripture over her. When I finished, she did a strange thing. First, she put both hands to her eyes. Her husband and I assumed she wanted her glasses, so we began looking for them. But Mrs. Mary shook her head. Then, she put her hand on her forehead. Again, we didn’t get it. Her husband thought she had a headache. She shook her head again. And when she pointed to the ceiling, that’s when I finally understood.
Hands cupped to her eyes. Zoom in!
Hand on her forehead, shielding her eyes from the imaginary sun. Focus On!
Finger pointing to the sky. Jesus!
In that moment, Mrs. Mary was focused on Jesus. In that moment, Mrs. Mary was closer to seeing her Savior than I was to the soda machine out in the hall. A month later, when Mrs. Mary passed away, I know that the same Jesus she had been focusing on in her last days was the One that welcomed her home. I know that when she focused on that Son, she didn’t have to shield her eyes any more. She saw Him face to face.
I share this story with you for a couple of reasons. The first is to remind you that the lessons we teach our children are the ones we need to hear as grown-ups. We never outgrow our need to focus on Jesus. We never get over the encouragement of Hebrews 12:1-2: “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
But the second is to encourage you. The pressures and problems of this world can get to us. They can wear us out and discourage us. But during those times of discouragement, zoom in, and focus on Jesus. He promises us that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18)
James Jackson is lead pastor of Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville. He enjoys reading, drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee, and helping create a place at Glynwood where “it’s okay to not be okay.” He and his wife Trish have two sons, Joshua and Caleb.
If you’ve never before attended a VBS Preview event, you are missing out!
VBS Preview Events are the best way to build excitement for VBS, train your leadership team, network with others who are just as crazy about VBS as you, and get inside tips and tricks from the VBS experts. Whether you’re a brand new leader or you’ve been doing VBS forever, you’ll discover practical strategies to make this your best VBS ever!
Bring your entire team to enjoy specialized training for each area of responsibility during VBS (e.g. VBS Director, age-group Bible study leader, rotation leader, etc.) so that every team member can excel in his or her responsibilities. Your team will also have access to a wide range of breakouts from which to pick and choose—giving each team a training experience that is completely customized to them!
VBS Preview Events get your creative juices flowing. You’ll get to explore incredible decorations from every angle, take pictures, and come away inspired to bring Concrete & Cranes to life in your church! It’s also your chance to learn all of the songs and motions before anyone else. You’ll experience large group games perfect for Family Night and discover new strategies for recruiting volunteers and following up with families after VBS.
Plus, each Preview will have a fully stocked VBS Store where you’ll be able to touch, see, and take home everything you’ll need for VBS—including curriculum, decorations, and promo items. VBS Previews are also the only place you’ll find exclusive VBS swag and discounts on T-shirts!
VBS Preview Events are a chance for you and your team to get motivated and be encouraged. It’s a time to focus anew on WHY we do VBS. When we embrace the WHY of VBS, our individual and collective passion is stirred to take VBS beyond “what we’ve always done” and challenges us to reach more, teach more, and evangelize more!
Come discover what Concrete & Cranes is all about. Sign up for a VBS Preview today! Find out more here!
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.
Since you’re reading this, I assume that you have concluded Vacation Bible School is truly worth it. Worth the long hours of making and tearing down decorations, consoling upset children, rejoicing with new believers, learning new Bible truths, preparing to teach and lead, and singing the theme song 5,539 times.
You don’t have to be persuaded of the eternal significance of intentional evangelism and discipleship that occurs during the concentrated time we devote to VBS. Moreover, you probably want to convince others in your church family the value of VBS or a VBS-like experience. So, how do you go about that task without the annoyance of a pesky gnat. After all, who wants fellow church members to disappear around the corner of the hallway when they see you coming? Perhaps you’ll find these suggestions helpful on your quest to tout the importance of VBS:
- Start with your pastor. Your pastor is busy and is bombarded continuously with requests to support a new or legacy ministry. Encourage your pastor and pray for him. You’re both on the same page of evangelism and discipleship. Give your pastor a copy of the book It’s Worth It.
- Meet with other decisions makers. Ask your pastor if there are others in your church who might benefit from a conversation regarding the “why” behind VBS. He may invite you to talk with the church staff or council, the deacons or elders, and the finance committee. Again, you don’t want to be like a pest, so be sure to balance persistence with grace.
- Point to the research. Many people want to see evidence that proves the value of VBS in the life of the local church. In addition to sharing information from the book It’s Worth It, consider using this presentation pack. Included are presentation slides, a one-hour or less facilitation plan, and a reproducible handout. You also may choose to use the pack to present research findings and conclusions with next year’s VBS teachers and leaders.
We tend to advocate for those things about which we feel strongly. Before you can effectively communicate the evangelistic and discipleship value of VBS, you must be personally passionate about this ministry. Then, your enthusiasm will be natural and sincere. And remember, VBS is definitely worth it!
The final day of VBS had come too soon, even though earlier in the week I had wondered if it would come soon enough. (Be honest, you felt that way too!) The week I spent with pre-kindergartners was rewarding, fun, and exhausting. But, it was Friday and soon I’d be saying goodbye to my young friends. Then, while the kids were in one of their rotations, I was made aware of a work crisis that diverted my attention. I was able to finish the morning strong, but I found focusing 100% on the children difficult.
We said our goodbyes, gobbled some pizza, and began tearing down and resetting our rooms for Sunday. My wife and I were in more of a rush than usual because we were scheduled to fly to Texas in a few hours for a family reunion that my brothers and I were hosting.
On the way to the airport I continued to deal with the work situation, while my daughter-in-law drove. In that moment I could have very easily questioned if VBS is worth it. Was it worth getting up early every morning to make sure I was ready to teach and then rushing to the office in the afternoon, while swallowing my sack lunch whole, and staying up late preparing for the next day at VBS?
You may have a similar story and possibly have asked yourself if VBS is worth it. To help answer that question objectively, let’s reframe the six myths about VBS identified in the book, It’s Worth It, and use them as an evaluation tool:
Did families use us primarily for free child care? If they did, probably only few did. Name the children who came to VBS for that express purpose. Did they hear the gospel? Then, it was worth it.
Did you have enough volunteers? Probably not, but name a few of the volunteers you did have and visualize the relationships they developed with children or the gospel conversations they had. Perhaps you observed a volunteer grasp the importance of kids ministry.
Did no one come to your VBS because every church in town promoted the same VBS theme you used? I’m going to guess children did come. If Lifeway’s research is accurate you heard few complaints from parents and kids about the theme, Bible content, and music being repeated from another church’s VBS. And, your VBS was unique to your context.
Was VBS too expensive and you had to buy too much stuff? Evaluate how much money you did spend and divide it by the number of children who attended. How much did you spend per child? Was it worth the gospel impact your church had on each child?
Were the only kids who came your church’s kids? If so, are they regular attenders or do they only come a few times a year? Among my group of preschoolers was a child who doesn’t attend any church, but his mother was very positive about his and his brother’s experiences at VBS. That one connection made VBS worth it for me.
Were all the kids who attended already Christians? Probably not, but even if they were all Christ followers, was the gospel reinforced? Did kids have opportunities to bring their unchurched friends to VBS? Were children discipled as they studied God’s Word and interacted with other believers?
I cannot answer for you but as I worked through the six questions above, God reminded me that VBS is definitely worth it. And, by the time next summer arrives I will have forgotten about the lost sleep and stressful situations. Just remember, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to Lifeway. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the grandparents of three adorable grandbabies.