Is It Worth It?

childrens ministry don't be anxiousLast week I was the speaker at a Bible camp for kids ages 9-11. Next week I am speaking at the VBS at our church (where I am also the director). It’s been a pretty busy summer getting ready!! It can be all too easy to get caught up in the details when involved in events like this…I found it happening to me.

Tuesday at camp I shared the gospel with the kids and I shared my testimony. I gave the cabin leaders some material to share with their cabins (the Romans road and some questions to ask the kids about what they understand and believe about Jesus). Wednesday morning a cabin leader told me that a girl in her cabin gave her life to Jesus after chapel!

That moment I knew that all of it is worth it. One child saved makes all of it worth it.

I came home from camp and immediately jumped into all the last-minute details of VBS for our church. When I feel like it’s getting too much, I remember that girl and pray that God would continue His work in the lives of the children who come to our VBS.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:1-7

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How to Create a Sign-up Form Using Google Drive

VBS is coming up and with that comes registration forms!! Are you curious about online registration forms? Wondering how easy it is to create an online registration form? Here is a step by step guide to creating a sign-up form on google docs. Don’t worry! It’s pretty easy and there are pictures! Here we go!

(NOTE: I do my very best to keep this up-to-date. However, Google updates their interface sometimes and I don’t always know about it, plus every computer may display some of these things differently, depending on the internet browser you use. So, these pictures may not always match exactly to what you are see but they should be pretty close. If you find the pictures are very different, feel free to get in touch and met me know so I can update them. Thank you!)

1. Sign in and go to https://drive.google.com/

2. Click the blue New button.



3. A little window will open with a few options.


4. Click Google Sheets.

5. A blank spreadsheet will open.

blank spreadsheet


6. In the menu above the spreadsheet, click Tools.

7. A menu will open.

8. Click Create Form.

create form


9. A form template displays.

form template


10. Give your spreadsheet a title.

11. Click Add Item to add as many questions as you want. If you hover over the little arrow to the right of Add Item, you’ll get some different question-type options. You’ll probably use the Text one a lot but some of the others are helpful, too.

add item


12. When we created a form for VBS registration, we included some of the following questions:

  • Text questions:
    • Name
    • Parents’ names
    • Age
  • Paragraph text questions:
    • Allergies
  • Check boxes
    • How the parent heard of the program
    • Permission to contact the parents about other programs

13. When you’re done, click View Live Form.

view live form


14. To share the form…

  • Copy the URL when you are viewing the live form and put it into emails that you send out to parents.
  • Or, if you want to embed the form, click File and then select Embed and it will give you some HTML to copy and paste into your church’s website.

embed


15. When you want to review responses, you can sign in to Google Drive and open the Sheet. If it opens in a spreadsheet, you’ll see a list of the responses sorted into columns according to the questions you asked. Or, if it takes you to this form-builder page then just click View Responses.

view responses


You’re done! That’s all there is to it! If you want a larger view of any of the pictures in this article, simply click on them.

A big thank you to my husband, Aaron! He put this together for me and now I’m sharing it with you. I hope you find it helpful.

 

 

 

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9 Tips for Choosing a VBS Program

Choosing a VBSVBS is an important part of children’s ministry. VBS is an opportunity to reach out to the children in your community. It’s a chance to build relationships. Most importantly it’s an opportunity to share the gospel with children. How do you choose a VBS that will help you do that? There are so many options out there. There are options available from major publishing houses; there are new groups putting out VBS material; there are free VBS programs being written and made available.

How do you choose VBS material? How do you evaluate the material available and choose the right one for your kids?

Here are 9 tips:

1. One Stop for VBS Possibilities

In order to evaluate material you have to find the material. There are so many companies that put out VBS programs, it can be overwhelming. It is important to look at a bunch in order to find the right one. Tony Kumner at ministry-to-children.com has for the last few years put out a VBS page on his website where he outlines and sometimes reviews the VBS programs from the major publishing companies. It is super-convenient to have it all in one place.  He provides links to the specific VBS websites so you can check it out for yourself.

2. Always Look First At the Daily Themes and Bible Story

There is a huge temptation when looking for VBS material to get lost in the theme. The theme is important. It’s the hook that draws kids in. It provides the backdrop for decorations and games and crafts, but it’s not the most important part of VBS. The first thing to look at when choosing VBS material is always the daily themes and Bible story. Does this program teach Biblical truth? Does it teach the gospel? Is the gospel clearly, compellingly, accurately, and appropriately presented? Is the Bible significantly used?

3. Look for a Cohesive Program

As a package, how well does the rest of the program support the gospel message? Is the theme continued in the games, crafts, and snack times? Are the crafts made an opportunity for the kids to interact further with the Biblical theme? Will they be a reminder of what was taught? Are the games being played a chance for kids to have fun while interacting further with the Bible story or truth taught? Absolutely everything doesn’t have to be completely connected to the theme. Sometimes, the game is just for fun. But when you are evaluating VBS material, it’s important to look at how well the theme is used, highlighted, and developed in all the areas of the program.

4. Choose a VBS Theme that will Attract the Kids in your Community

A theme should attract the interest of the kids in your church & neighborhood and maintain that interest throughout the program. When looking at themes consider popular trends and fads; TV shows, movies, and video games that are currently capturing kids attention; and don’t neglect perennially popular themes. Look at what themes other churches in your area are using. Get inspiration from what is being offered. If there seems to be a theme that is being used by a number of churches consider doing something different. When looking at VBS programs ask, “Is the theme one that would attract the attention of kids and parents in my community?”

5. Choose a VBS Program That Fits the Size of Your Volunteer Base and Resources

Some VBS programs will look really appealing and exciting, but it just might not be possible to pull it off. Do you have the volunteers necessary to do that particular VBS really well? Do you have access to the resources necessary for this VBS program (game equipment, craft supplies and materials, decorations, and physical space?)

6. Compare the Cost of the VBS Program to Your Budget

Can you afford to purchase the VBS material? Look at the basic material provided and look carefully at the extras. Do you need them? Will you need to come up with your own craft ideas if you choose not to purchase the materials provided. Also look carefully at the games, crafts, and snack suggestions. Even if you purchase materials yourself, will they be expensive? I previewed one VBS program once that was highlighting the fact that all the crafts were made from materials you can get a hold of yourself (you didn’t need to purchase anything from the company). The crafts were all connected to the theme and fun possibilities, but they were all going to be expensive! The materials needed were not cheap! Look carefully at the budget you have for VBS and the cost of the program you want to purchase. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of craft supplies, game equipment, snack supplies, and decorations that you will need to purchase on top of the VBS program material.

7. Music Is Important

If you are going to have music, make sure it’s good. Music can be a way to draw kids in and get them excited. Music is also a great way to develop the theme and teach Biblical truth. We remember what we sing. When VBS is done, it’s the songs that the kids will likely remember most. So make sure the songs sung are full of Biblical truth. Make sure they are fun, kid-friendly, and memorable. As the kids sing the music they learned at VBS, they should be singing Bible and gospel truths.

8. Make Sure there is Enough Material for a Considered Evaluation

There must be enough theme and bible content to evaluate. Are you able to see the Bible point, Bible verse, and Bible story for each day? Do they offer samples of the Bible story? Are you given enough material to make a considered evaluation? If it’s not there to preview, don’t choose that program.

9. Crafts/Games/Snack – Don’t Get Too Caught Up In This Section of the VBS Material

Games, crafts, and snack are an important part of VBS and if you are purchasing a program, then you want most of the work to be done for you already. Look at what is on offer for crafts, games, and snack. Make sure that you have the physical space and resources to use the ideas provided. But remember, it is easy to supplement crafts, games, and snack. Don’t let the fact that a VBS program doesn’t have games and snack provided to stop you from using it (especially if it has a particularly good Bible story section and gospel presentation.) Crafts, games, and snack shouldn’t be the deal breakers when choosing a VBS. However, you need to look at the program as a whole. If you will have to change or supplement too much (games, craft, snack, music, missions, story, gospel presentation)  then it is might not be worth purchasing the material, even if you love the theme.

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Why VBS Should be Evangelistic!

My dad’s a pastor. He’s been a pastor for more than 35 years. There are a number of things that characterize my Dad. If you ask people, the first thing they will probably mention is his laugh. My dad laughs a lot and it’s infectious!

My dad also shares the gospel every chance he gets. He shares the gospel at weddings and funerals. He shares the gospel in hospital rooms and coffee shops. He shared the gospel recently more than once at our 100th years in Canada family reunion. He was asked to put together a hymn book of our pioneering ancestor’s favorite hymns and in the introduction he shared the gospel.

If I have learned anything from my Dad it’s this: Share the gospel. Love people, listen to people, serve people, but don’t waste opportunities to share the gospel because they might not come around again.

There are many reasons to hold a VBS program at your church, but I believe that the first and foremost reason should be because it’s an opportunity to share the gospel with the kids in your community.

There are children that come to VBS that have never stepped into a church before. There are kids who have attended church their whole life. There are also kids who come from other churches!

All of these children need to hear about the God who created them and loves them; who sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross, taking the punishment for their sin so that they can be forgiven and become children of God.

VBS is an opportunity to share the wonderful gospel with the children in your community – a chance that you may not get again. Don’t waste it.

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Recommended Resources for Helping Kids Understand the Gospel

1. Helping Children to Understand the Gospel – Children Desiring God

This resource is written in 3 parts. Parts 1 &2 are about preparing children for the gospel and presenting the gospel to children. Part 3 is 10 essential truths of the gospel. I like how part 3 is laid out. The key point is clearly stated, scripture is listed, a kid-friendly explanation is offered, and then various illustrations are provided.

“God made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved.”

I love this statement and use it often when is share the gospel with kids. It is short and easy to remember and full of hope!

2. Big Truths for Young Hearts – Bruce A. Ware

Bruce Ware is a professor of theology. Big Truths for Young Hearts is his effort to explain big theological truths to children. This is a great resource!

This book is more than a resource for helping kids understand the gospel. But there is great stuff in it to help you share the gospel with kids. Ware has a great way of explain deep theological truths in ways that kids can understand.

“To believe in Christ (or trust in Christ or put faith in Christ) means to count or rely completely on what Christ has done in his death and resurrection for my sin, so that my hope of being right in God’s sight is all because of Christ and has nothing to do with any good thing that I might ever say or do.”

3. Leading Kids to Jesus – David Staal

This book is about having one-on-one conversations about faith. The author does a good job of helping the reader to understand the dynamics of communicating with kids. I also like the focus given on helping the reader figure out how to share their own testimony with kids.  Another very good section of this book deals with questions kids might ask and how to answer them.

“Even though we deliver the message, true comprehension and conviction comes solely as a result of the Holy Spirit. To that end, no matter how well we word the gospel, different kids will require different quantities of time to fully understand. Give them as much as they need.”

4. Gospel Flipper Flapper – Child Evangelism Fellowship

I love using this tool to share the gospel with kids! One year at VBS we passed them out to 130 kids and together we flipped and flapped and the kids were actively engaged as the gospel message was told.

This tool uses colors and symbols as a starting point for sharing the gospel. You flip the flaps to reveal a yellow circle (God who is holy), a black heart (all have sinned), a red cross (Jesus died for our sins); and a white heart (salvation is offered to those who repent and believe). The kids love figuring out how to flip the flaps! Have fun with this inexpensive yet effective tool for sharing the gospel with kids!

5. In Search of the Greatest Treasure Comic Booklet – Campus Crusade for Christ

I have used this comic booklet for a few years now. The illustrations are great and the gospel is clearly presented with a focus on Jesus. For VBS, our counselor s use this as they talk one-on-one with kids and we give them out to all who attend.

 

There are a lot of resources out there. These are just 5 that I have used extensively and would highly recommend.

Check out the other blogposts in this series!

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