Thursday, December 31, 2015

What Survivor Taught Me About VBS & Children's Ministry

Okay. I admit it. I watch the TV show, Survivor. I totally could do without the "drama"; and think a lot of it is fake, but there is one reason I watch this show. The challenges. I like to see what the challenges are and how the people work together - or not - to accomplish them.

Watching Survivor has actually taught me something about VBS and Children's MInistry. What, you might wonder, could Survivor possibly teach me about VBS and Children's Ministry? It taught me about effectively engaging children - all of them - in activities. Stop and think for a moment. If you have watched this show, you know most of the time there are two challenges or games, during each show which the contestants have to complete/compete in to move forward in the game. These are amazing games! Usually they involve some type of obstacle course/race and then a puzzle to assemble. Whichever team/person does these things first wins an advantage/award or immunity from being voted off the show. Since all of the players want to win the million dollars, they all want to win the challenges/games.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recruiting = Praying, Sharing & and Getting Attention!

Once you decide which Vacation Bible School resource is the best "fit" for your unique ministry, it is time to begin sharing your goals and vision with the people in your church and start thinking about the important and fun "task" of finding your volunteers! Look in your director's manual and you will probably find well thought-out and designed recruiting information - everything from how to determine how many volunteers you need to specific "job" descriptions for each position you need to fill. Sit down and spend some time familiarizing yourself with these "positions" and then pray. Ask God to lay on your heart the people who He would have serve in those positions. Involve the people of your church by sharing your vision/goals and ask them to pray God will lay on the hearts of all of them exactly how they may best be involved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

VBS Recruiting - Joy!

I've been writing about recruiting for VBS with a focus on "view-finder", "perspective" and "creativity"; today I want to talk about recruiting with a focus on joy! This is the one essential thing to keep in mind whenever you think about recruiting for anything, as joy is the most important thing! Consider the following . . . 

Monday, December 28, 2015

VBS Recruiting - Creativity!

If you have looked at VBS recruiting through a "view-finder" and with a "perspective" which sees possibilities instead of obstacles, then it is time to look at VBS recruiting with "creativity"! By this I mean, do the unexpected when you recruit, as this will get the attention of the people in your church!

When you think about recruiting, you can certainly go about it in a lot of ways, but if those ways do not get the attention of the people in your church, you are not likely to end up with a very big response. The reason for this is as follows . . . 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

VBS Recruiting - Perspective

Stop and think for a minute. If someone asks you to do something, but then says they know you probably do not want to do it or nobody else wants to do it or you are their last "hope", are you very likely to want to be the one who says, "yes" when it sounds like everyone else has said, "no"? If the person asking you to help looks desperate, are you likely to wonder what is so horrible about this thing they are asking you to do?

So often when we approach recruiting for VBS - or any area of children's ministry - we do so with an "air" of desperation. We almost expect people to say, "no" and may even think there are "good reasons" for them to say, "no". If we approach recruiting with a negative "perspective", people are likely to notice and say, "no".

If, however; we approach recruiting with a positive "perspective", we are likely to experience a very different response! So, what is a "positive perspective", you ask? Consider the following . . . 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

VBS Recruiting - Look Through the "View Finder"!

Okay, at the start of this post I need to let you know two things . . . 
  • I LOVE recruiting!
While it may be easy for you to believe I love VBS, you may be shaking your head and thinking it just is not possible for me to "love" recruiting; but it is! You see, I look at recruiting through the following "view-finder" . . . 

Happy Day After Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with your families. I had a very unique Christmas - our power was out, due to a very strong windstorm, and our generator stopped working, so Christmas plans had to be changed. We were going to have family over to celebrate, but instead visited our son, daughter-in-law and grandsons and postponed our plans for dinner to Tuesday night.

I'm very happy to say my grandsons had so much joy and thankfulness over the gifts they received; there was no attitude of wanting or "needing" more gifts! I know these boys will be very happy for many, many days, weeks and months to come for the gifts they received.

So, today I'm sharing my final Christmas carol, and want to encourage you, as you go through today remember; "Even when Christmas is over the Light of the World is still here!"

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's Christmas . . .

Christmas star decoration with blue background and Jesus is the reason for the season lettering clip art of manger pictureIt is Christmas - while we typically celebrate on Christmas Eve at my parents with my siblings, their families and my family, we had a power outage due to high winds and no power at my parents - or my house, since we live across the street from them. Our celebrating has been postponed this year. It feels strange to not be enjoying the typical traditions, but while all the celebrating is fun; something I look forward to each year, the most important thing is taking time to thank God for the reason we are able to celebrate . . . the birth of Jesus!

So, while I most sincerely miss the power (our generator has given up the ghost), I am reminding myself about what really matters. Christmas is far more than gifts, celebrating, meals - and even more than electricity in our homes. Even when I do not have those things, I still have Jesus and God's gift of Grace and these are what really matters.

If you know Jesus, then I'm sure you'll be celebrating one of the most important happenings in all of history, too! If you do not yet know Him, I pray this year you will come to know Him Who loves you so much, He was willing to leave Heaven, be born as a tiny baby in a stable and ultimately grow up and give His life on a cross so we can be forgiven! Talk about the best Gift ever!!!

Merry Christmas everyone, and thank you for reading my blog!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Christmas Carol for You - Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring & Joy to the World

I enjoy Christmas "Flash Mobs" . . . I think it would be fun to be part of one, so today I'm happy to share with you a very well done, "flash mob" - this time it by the Air Force Band, starting with a single cellist (my personal favorite musical instrument) on the floor of the National Air and Space Museum's Milestones of Flight gallery. By the end of this four minute performance there are 120 musicians and vocalists playing and singing to the delight and surprise of those who visited the museum!  

While we are all likely able to sing from memory, Joy to the World, Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring (written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1716 and 1723) is one we may recognize, but not know, so I looked up the words to share with you, along with Joy to the World, which was written by Isaac Watts in 1719 and was based on Psalm 98. Enjoy!

Dates for my 2016 VBS Reviews

Image result for clipart for January 2016Typically, I begin my VBS reviews the first Monday of January each year, but this year I will be doing so on the second Monday; January 11, 2016. I will announce my Top Pick VBS for 2016 on January 22, 2016 and release my side-by-side comparison chart on January 25, 2016.

Usually publishers get their VBS kits to me starting as early as October, but I always have the kits by the end of December. This year, there are some I will not receive until the beginning of January, so I'm pushing the reviews back one week to give a little more time for kits to arrive at my house.

I want my reviews to be as complete as possible, so I'm pushing them back by one week. If you have to make a decision before January 25th and really need to see my side-by-side chart early, email me and I'll email the chart to you (

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

This Christmas Be the Gift God Wants You to Be!

Today, rather than share another Christmas carol, I want to share a few thoughts about Christmas. While it is the time of the year when we tend to be more joyful, more merry . . . at least, many of us are, it can also be a very difficult time of year for some of the children and families in our ministries if they are experiencing difficult times in their families. Along with leading children in worshipping and celebrating the birth of Jesus, we need to also be on the watch for those children and families who may need our help. Watch for . . . 

"Sticky" VBS Bible Lessons - What Makes a Lesson, "Stick"?

During Vacation Bible School . . . churches which plan a VBS for their summer ministry - or other time of the year - know their children will be engaged in activities, games, crafts, mission/service projects, music and snacks; but the most important part of VBS is the Bible teaching. So . . . what should we be looking for when we look at the Bible lessons in a VBS resource? Consider the following absolute essentials -

Monday, December 21, 2015

How Do I Determine My Top Pick for VBS 2016?

My 2016 Top Ten VBS Countdown and reviews begin in less than a month; I will be reviewing at least 10 VBS kits this year and I'm sure all of them will be Biblically sound resources with well developed themes and engaging settings! Regardless of which kits you select to utilize in your ministry, you can be confident of finding quality resources.

I want to give you an idea of how I will make my selections for this year's Top Ten VBS resources. I'm not a VBS publisher, I do not work for any publisher and I'm not a bookstore; I'm a children's ministry person, so when I evaluate curriculum, I look for the "tools" a curriculum provides which will help equip volunteers, so they will be able to most effectively communicate God's Word in a way children will remember  and  understand, so they will be able to live it in their everyday lives, every day!

My Christmas Carol for Today - This Baby - by Steven Curtis Chapman

Image result for baby Jesus clipartYesterday was a busy day around my house . . . my grandsons spent Saturday night and Sunday night my oldest grandson sang in the children's choir at church - busy and wonderful! This grandma was very happy to sit in the audience and see his sweet, smiling face as he sang!

So, today I'm very happy to share another "Christmas carol" with you - this time it is a song I've never heard before, but one I really like . . . "This Baby", by Steven Curtis Chapman . . . 

Look at the lyrics -