Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 VBS Timeline: 6-9 Months Before Your VBS

Begin your VBS planning with prayer. Pray with your ministry staff, organize a prayer team, and begin asking God to guide and direct your VBS planning. Next, choose your dates and time for your VBS program. If you do a VBS plus a sports camp, choose the dates for both. Put them on the church calendar and add them the church website.

Click on the VBS Timeline above to see the larger and expanded view. Visit Shop VBS to see the VBS overviews and Scripture themes for 2012.  At Shop VBS you can listen to music and video clips, see the daily Bible lessons, find VBS hints and tips, and read our report, "Seven Steps to a Succesful VBS." You can also download a VBS Comparison Chart we've put together to help you decide which program(s) you'd like to review.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebrating Jesus' Birth

For many of us, the Christmas season is a hectic time with too much to do and not enough time to do it all. But the Christmas season is really a time of preparation for Jesus’ birth. Beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continuing through Christmas Eve is a time often called the advent season. The word advent is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming” or “arrival.” The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is recognized as the first advent. The advent season is a time to prepare spiritually for the birth of Christ.

Set aside family and/or Sunday school or children’s church time to read about the preparation for Jesus and His birth in Luke 1:1-80 through 2:20. Read a few verses at a time, letting some of your good child readers alternate with adults to take turns reading the verses. Talk about how the people of so long ago must have felt as they prepared for the birth of Jesus.

You may also want to read Matthew 1:18-24. Explain that when the angel appeared to Joseph, he told him to name the Baby Jesus, “because He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves. (You may  need to explain that "sins" are the wrong things we say and do.) This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet Isaiah: “The virgin will … give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel —which  means, 'God with us.'” This Scripture is taken from Isaiah 7:14.

Let each person describe how he feels as Christmas approaches. Take time together to remember all of the reasons you have to be joyful. Sing a favorite Christmas carol or two. Close with a prayer of thanks to God for sending His Son, Jesus, to earth.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ten Creative Ways to Thank Your Volunteers This Christmas

 Here are ten simple ways to say "thanks" to your volunteers and coworkers this Christmas. Choose one or more to try with your own group. (You may want to save some for the new year.) But remember, a simple word of encouragement or a handwritten note during the year can go a long way toward boosting your volunteers' spirits while showing your appreciation for a job well done.

Ten Creative Ways to Thank Your Volunteers
 1. Send each of your volunteers a Christmas card (add a few jewels or sparkling Christmas tree stickers to give your store-bought cards a hand-made flair). In addition to your hand-written greeting on the card, type a special note of appreciation highlighting the contributions of each volunteer.

 2. Print a personalized Christmas certificate for each volunteer. Come up with a list of characteristics to describe each of your helpers such as, "Most thoughtful, quickest diaper changer, most organized, best hugger, most grandmotherly, calmest rocking chair moves, most soothing singer, craziest, most fun-loving, best hat-wearer, most prayerful, best game leader, fastest runner, best air-guitar player, most artistic, best finger-painter, etc.) Decorate the certificates with Christmas stickers, and have the children's director and pastor sign them. Present each certificate along with a handshake as you read the description for all to hear.
3. Have a "Build Your Own Taco" night. Provide sides of tomatoes, cheese, olives, cilantro, salsa, onions, sour cream, guacamole, and lettuce. Brown ground beef or turkey and warm up flour and corn tortillas (soft and/or hard shells). You may want to ask some parents of your students to supply beans, corn, rice, and brownies (or churros) for dessert. Say a prayer of thanks for your team before letting them fill their plates. After they eat, say a brief word of appreciation about each volunteer.

 4. Purchase an inexpensive Christmas mug for each volunteer. Use a gold pen or green permanent marker to add the person's name to the mug. Fill it with a tea bag or individual coffee and a few candies.

 5. Purchase a large box of inexpensive Christmas glass ball ornaments. Use a gold pen or red and green permanent markers to add the person's name to the ornament along with the word THANKS! You may want to have your church's children's director or pastor sign it. Wrap it in an attractive gift bag and tie it with a festive ribbon.

 6. Have a Christmas tea for your volunteers. Serve muffins or scones along with various flavors of tea. Provide lemon, honey, cream, and sugar cubes. Borrow tea cups and saucers from church members. Let your parents decorate the tables with a festive centerpiece or small Christmas tree. Have each person at the table print his or her name on a slip of paper and place the slips in an envelope (one envelope per table). Draw one slip from each envelope and let the winners take home the centerpieces.

 7. Let your students trace their handprints onto green paper and cut them out. Glue 7-8 handprints into a circle (overlapping, with the fingers pointing out) to form a wreath. Have the children print THANKS on each of the wreaths, add a red bow, and tape a ribbon hanger to the back. Have the children sign their names on the back and present the handprint wreaths to your volunteers.

 8. Collect small fabric bags with ribbon drawstrings. Let your students fill each bag with chocolate Hugs™ and Kisses™ and pull the drawstring (or tie the bag with a ribbon). Have the children make small cards that say, "Hugs to you, our wonderful volunteer." Punch a hole in the corner of each card. Help the child tie the card to the ribbon. Present the candy bags to your volunteers with a word of thanks.

  9. Ask your church members and parents of your students to donate $5.00 or $5.00 gift cards to your local coffee house, music store, Christian bookstore, or department store. Use the money to buy additional gift cards so you have one for each of your volunteers. Place each gift card in an envelope labeled THANKS. Let your students decorate the envelopes with drawings and stickers of Jesus' birth or nativity scenes.

10. Make traditional Christmas crackers filled with small trinkets. Collect empty toilet tissue rolls and paper towel rolls cut in half. Gather small wrapped candies, Christmas trinkets, small notepads or sticky notes, lip balm, pins, small pens, etc. Cover one end of the cardboard roll with tissue paper and secure it with a rubber band. Let your students make a small card of thanks for each of your volunteers. Fill the tube halfway with the items you have collected. Cover the entire tube with tissue paper that's longer than the tube. Twist the ends and tape them shut or use twist ties on each end. Tape a card to each Christmas cracker and give them to your volunteers with a Christmas greeting.

However you choose to thank them, Christmas is a wonderful time show your appreciation and to thank God for blessing you with your volunteers!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Celebrate Christmas with an Outreach to Your Community

The Church Family Christmas Celebration is a complete program book with CD-ROM to help you easily plan and  organize a complete Christmas outreach to your church and community. The easy-to-use instruction guide tells you all you need to know—whether you've been planning church events for 25 years or this is your first time! Includes worship ideas, an instant Christmas pageant, promotion and programming ideas, printable family devotions, recipes for refreshments, craft instruction sheets, CD-ROM, and lots more:
  • Step-by-step instructions for planning and set-up
  • Reproducible instruction sheets and patterns
  • Christ-centered crafts
  • Worship service guides
  • Quick and easy decorations and centerpieces
  • Nativity Pageant scripts
  • Missions project ideas
  • Printable family Christmas devotions
  • CD-ROM included!
The Church Family Christmas Celebration can be used during the advent season to prepare the hearts of your congregation and community for Christmas. You choose the time frame and programming options that work best for your church. 

The reproducible bulletin inserts, posters, song sheets, recipes, pageant instructions, and much more will help you put this memory-making event together in no time at all. When your volunteers see how well organized you are, recruiting will practically take care of itself. The Church Family Christmas Celebration