Thursday, February 11, 2016

What to do now that Gospel Light VBS is no more

















Change doesn't come easy for all of us, and it can be especially hard with something as big as VBS. The unfortunate news is that Gospel Light VBS is no more, which means many churches will be looking for new programs this year.

To ease the transition, our VBS Experts have put together some recommendations for this year's VBS. We encourage you to take this opportunity to refresh your Children's Ministry and build excitement around these brand-new, yet tried-and-true programs.



Cave Quest

The Easy VBS

Why not take the opportunity to try something new? Cave Quest is the most intuitive and engaging program, with a rotation style, student take home papers (no student books), fantastic music, and an optional skit. The non-traditional set up is very exciting and refreshing, and a great start to initiate a positive change in your ministry. Learn More


Deep Sea Discovery 

Most Like Gospel Light

Like Gospel Light, Deep Sea Discovery offers reproducible music, age appropriate student books, skits, and also includes a classroom setting format. This is the only 2016 program that offers reproducible music. Learn More


Barnyard Roundup

Traditional VBS

Barnyard Roundup is easy to use, and offers skits, student books, and both rotational and classroom formats. Barnyard Roundup is a very wholesome and traditional approach to VBS. Learn More



Our experts are more than happy to spend time with you, discussing how these programs work, how to transition well, and walk you through all the supplies you'll need. We'll be with you every step of the way to ensure this year's VBS runs smoothly and points children in your community to Christ.

Contact our VBS Experts:

Phone: 800-521-0751



What happened to Gospel Light? 


Unfortunately Gospel Light Publications filed for bankruptcy and was forced to liquidate. Concordia Supply has agreed to serve their VBS customers going forward. If you have questions, please call 1-800-521-0751.

Who is Concordia Supply?


Concordia Supply is one of the most reputable e-commerce Christian retailers of VBS, Children's Ministry, and church supplies. Concordia Supply was a key partner and distributor of Gospel Light VBS and Sunday School products for over 30 years. 





Wednesday, February 10, 2016

VBS Tip #3 - 9 Ideas to Publicize Your VBS


VBS is likely the biggest event for your Children's Ministry this year. Take advantage of the opportunity to get the word out to your congregation and community with these ideas.


1. Make an announcement during church services

Take a minute or two during your service to make an announcement. This could come from the Children's Pastor, VBS Director, Lead Pastor, or even an energetic and well-prepared child. Whether you use a short video, slides, or just a quick verbal message, this is a great way to make an impression on the whole church.

2. Create a bulletin insert


Use the free downloads from your VBS theme to put together a flyer, and stick it in your weekly bulletin. Make sure you have the dates, sign up information, and volunteer needs included. What better way to get VBS info into the hands of your whole congregation? Check out Cave Quest's free, downloadable clip art for ideas.

3. Handout or mail postcard invitations


This is a great way to reach families who haven't been to church in a while. If you have an address list, send a postcard to every family in your church. You can also send Every Door Direct Mail, and let the Post Office take care of delivering your invitations to every household near your church.

4. Distribute door hangers throughout the community


Get some teams of kids and volunteers together to distribute door hangers in nearby neighborhoods. This is a great opportunity to wear your VBS shirts early, grab some attention and build excitement. Make sure the door hanger has your church website, contact info, or a simple map.

5. Fill your church with signs and banners


A quick way to get the word out is to hang posters, signs, and banners throughout your church. Don't limit yourself to the Children's Ministry areas, either. Extend your publicity to the main entryway, hallways and adult classrooms to attract volunteers too! Order Cave Quest banners to get started.

6. Talk with families and volunteers


Old fashioned word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective ways to publicize VBS. If you're excited about the theme, and opportunity to reach kids for Christ, let that overflow in every conversation. Then train your volunteers to do the same.

7. Promote on your church website


Be sure to have all the details for your VBS prominently displayed on your church website. This will likely be the first place people go to get more information about the date, time, activities, theme, and volunteer opportunities. Include information for both church members who know VBS well, and for brand new families who might not even know what the letters V.B.S. stand for. Plus, include contact information for those who may have more questions.

8. Hang outdoor banners


If your church is positioned on a busy street, you may want to invest in a large, outdoor banner. Include only the most important information, like date, location and website, and make sure the text is large and high contrast. If people can read it from their car, they are more likely to stop by or find out more about the program. Get custom VBS banners here.

9. Share on social media


Create a post each week on your church social media accounts to help get the word out. Include a photo and link for more information, and then share it through your accounts to reach even more people.

For more tools and resources for VBS, visit our VBS Tips Page.

Friday, February 5, 2016

VBS Tip #2 - The Ultimate VBS Checklist

4-6 MONTHS BEFORE VBS

Pray 

Pray for VBS 2016; the director, the volunteers, and the children and families who will be participating.

Evaluate Last Year 

Determine what worked before and what can be improved upon. Consider talking to people at other churches who have done it before. 

Order A Kit

Start by ordering a kit. With Concordia Supply you get to take advantage of our generous 90 day review period for Starter Kits. Get your hands on two or three, and dive into the features of each one. They are totally returnable.


2-3 MONTHS BEFORE VBS

Budget & Fundraising 

Once you have your Starter Kits in hand, you will be better prepared to make a budget. Also start planning any fundraising efforts as necessary.

Pick A Date & Promote 

Pick your date and order your publicity materials first (banners, postcards, posters). The sooner you spread the word, the more families you can reach.

Place Initial Stock Order

Please order early to guarantee stock of popular items, particularly the items like student materials (books, buddies, crafts, etc) and decorations. Estimate the number of students you expect and you can add on later.

1 MONTH BEFORE VBS

Recruit & Train

You probably have some names in mind already to help, but make sure to confirm with your key volunteers and leaders. Have some meetings.

Review Your Supplies 

Review & purchase additional supplies as needed.

1-2 WEEKS BEFORE VBS

Decorate

Use ideas for d├ęcor from your guides or from helpful tips we provide on our website under the courses.

Keep Praying 

Continue praying and meet with leaders to go over last minute details, such as times and places to meet each day. Put together classes or crews based on pre-registration.


DURING VBS

Be There

Continue registration to bring in more kids, continue praying with and for volunteers and leaders.

Have Fun 

Have some fun with the kids. There could be children at VBS who are experiencing church for the first time. Make it memorable!


AFTER VBS

Highlight 

Keep your decorations up for Sunday service to show the church what went on. Make a video or slideshow.

Evaluate 

Spend some time with your VBS Staff and decide what went well and what needs improvement for next year while it’s fresh on your mind.

Follow-Up

It could have been the first impression of your church, so get in touch with visitors and families who came to your VBS.

Want more VBS checklist resources and planning guides? Click here

Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Types of Banners and Why You Need Them in Your Church

Banners can serve multiple purposes in churches, so we rounded up the 5 types to help you get organized and cover your bases.

1. Invitational

You've seen it, the big horizontal banners outside the front of a church, usually declaring service times or special events. Invitational banners invite the community to be part of something great, so make sure you have the right information on your invitational banners.
  • Must haves:
    • Church name
    • Service days and times
    • Church website
    • Location (if not placed directly on church property)welcome banner 1welcome banner 2
Invitational banners should be limited to only the most essential information, use fonts that are large and clearly readable from a distance, and include high-contrast, welcoming colors. See All

2. Directional

You may know where everything is in your church, but directional signs are essential for visitors and new members. Take a minute to stand at the entrance of your church. If you were new, would you know where to drop off your children, find the sanctuary, or sign up for a class? Use banners with a consistent look and feel to help guide guests throughout your church campus. 

3. Informational

Sometimes a flyer on a table just isn't enough. If you want to grab the attention of a large group of people, consider using an informational banner. This is a great solution for events like Women's Bible Study and youth camps, where it may take a few weeks for your members to get to the table to pick up a flyer. Just giving them a heads-up on the date or theme, will remind them to save the date and return the next week to get all the information. 

4. Divisional

Does your church tend to work in long sermon series? Divisional banners can be great markers for reminding your congregation where you are in a series. For example, a series through the 4 Gospels can be marked with one banner for each book. Choose a theme verse or key message from each book to include on the banner, and hang them one at a time as you start each book. This also helps new members and those who missed a week stay on track.

You can also use divisional banners to help separate events that are scheduled close together. For instance, during Easter season, hang a set of banners for each service, as an easy way to change the look and feel of your sanctuary. Hang Hosanna banners for Palm Sunday, crucifixion banners for Good Friday, and tomb or lily banners for Easter Sunday. See All
hosanna   Jesus   risen

5. Inspirational

It doesn't have to be all business all the time. Create space in your church for inspirational verses, quotes or images. Consider changing these out seasonally, or using verses that coordinate with the current sermon series. See All
rock     Lord




Thursday, January 28, 2016

VBS Tip #1 - How to Choose the Best VBS Theme for Your Church

vbs tip 1


Choosing a VBS theme can be tough. With tons of great programs, you may be wondering how to compare each one, and what to prioritize  to ensure you find the best program for your church.

We've been there, and that's why we suggest using the following guidelines to help you get started. Plus, don't miss the essential tools at the end of this post to make things even easier.

How to choose a VBS theme:

  • Listen to the music

    • Music is one of the most distinct and memorable parts of VBS. Your kids (and you) will be singing long after the program is over. Listen to music samples at concordiasupply.com, or check out Cave Quest's music here.

  • Choose an age group
    • Take a moment to think about your church and community. Which age group is the majority? Who are you focusing on this reaching this year? Most VBS programs are designed to reach elementary ages, but if you want to include families, consider using Egypt VBS, specifically designed with activities for all ages.


  • Consider community interests and needs

    • What is unique about your community? If your church speaks Spanish, consider Sopresa. If you're in and urban neighborhood, looking for active worship and minimal preparation cost, check out Joy in Jesus. If you're searching for that traditional Bible-times feel, try Egypt VBS.



  • Do you want to D.I.Y. or click & print?

    • Every course offers marketing materials like banners, flyers, postcards and posters. If you are a do-it-yourself person, then look for a course with a media or clip-art CD, or free downloadable resources so you can build your own digital slides and invitations. 

  • Rotate or stay put

    • Think about your space and the number of volunteers you'll have. Would a rotational format work best with students meeting for the opening and closing, and while rotating from station to station in between? Or would a static classroom format be more manageable with your space and resources? 

  • Can the message expand beyond VBS?

    • Do you want your VBS to stand alone with a theme message and key verses, or would you like it to connect with the rest of your church? Review what your main service, adult classes, or Children's Ministry is already studying, and consider a theme with a similar message or passage so your whole church is learning together.

  • What version of the Bible is used?
    • What version of the Bible do most of your students and volunteers already have? Each course has the translations listed, but don't feel like you have to stick to that. You can always adapt to a different version, or provide Outreach Bibles in bulk to make following along easy.

  • What's the cost?

    • Take a quick look at the order forms and decorating ideas for an overview of the cost, and check out our Budgeting & Fundraising Hints to plan ahead so you can have an effective and successful VBS. If you see something you like, but you're not sure if you can afford it, consider DIY'ing it. You'll find tons of money-saving ideas and templates on our Pinterest boards.
Keep in mind that most VBS programs can be adapted to fit your church’s needs. If you have any questions about choosing a VBS theme, feel free to call our VBS Experts at 1-800-521-0751.

Essential Tools:




Monday, January 25, 2016

3 Creative Ideas for Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is all about preparing hearts for the Easter season. With Easter coming early this year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 10th. Check out these creative ideas for simple, yet memorable services.



1. Host a Self-guided Service

For most of us, making time for an extra service during the middle of the week is tough for church members and staff. A self-guided service allows members to come at a time of day that works best for them - providing the best opportunity for focused reflection. It's also a great way to provide an extra service without overloading your staff during this busy season. Devote one or more classrooms to self-guided stations, where people can come and go throughout the day. Remember to place instructions at each entryway. Learn more at Christian Standard.com


2. Create Space to Pray at Church or Home

Creating an environment for prayer doesn't have to be limited to the church. Encourage your members to find time during the day to create a distraction-free space to pray and reflect. This could look like a quiet, dark room, with all electronics off, and perhaps a candle or two. Have them commit to spending the time in reflection and confession to prepare for the Easter season.

3. Provide Activities for Families or Individuals

Add a level of engagement to the service with simple activities that work for all ages. Provide clay or playdough to remind members to allow their hearts to become moldable in Jesus' hands. For more ideas, see Tim Suttle's article on patheos.com.

Find even more resources:



Friday, January 22, 2016

Back Home in Tanzania

This week a member of the Concordia family traveled back to Tanzania to continue mission work with Empowering Lives International.


In Tanzania, the need for clean water is great. Andrew and his team disciple followers of Jesus by training nationals to drill for clean, affordable water in their communities. The drilling teams intentionally install water wells at local churches and schools, which in turn increases attendance. They use both manual drilling methods and a machine drill rig, and equip locals to launch their own water drilling businesses. In doing so, they use Jesus' model of discipleship to spread the Gospel and provide long-term solutions for whole communities.




Join us as we support Andrew and Empowering Lives International in their work in Tanzania.

For more photos and updates, check out Andrew's blog.


Learn more about local and global missions we support on our Missions Page.