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Video Transcript:

 

Patty Burns

This is awesome. We have 68, children’s pastors, preschool pastors, VBS directors on this meeting with us. So, thanks for joining us. You don’t wanna hear from me. But I do want to share with you just a little bit. Belinda and I are just blessed to serve Alabama as state missionaries in preschool children. You know, Belinda works with Bible Drill and I’m working with Vacation Bible School. We have created a Facebook group. If you have not seen it yet, it is VBS AL: Tips & Training. And many of the folks from the Alabama State team are putting out videos. We have some associational teams that are putting out some videos and then we’re placing on there. We’re also putting the stuff that Melita has that she is posting. We’re trying to get that on there as well. So take a look at that. It’s a good way for you to ask questions. It’s a good way for us to talk when we’re not Zooming. We have thought about doing these zoom meetings before, but we just thought that you were probably overwhelmed with Zoom. Some of you I know are doing it with your churches and you’re doing it with your families. And we wanted to get through Easter, and so, thanks for joining us. I hope you’ll find this beneficial. And with that said, I’m gonna kick this off to Melita Thomas to share with us all things LifeWay VBS. Take it away, Melita.

Melita Thomas

Sounds great. Hey, everybody. I’m glad to get to be with you. Like, this is what? Twice in a year, I’m really excited. It’s not just a November thing anymore. I hope everyone is well, doing well and staying healthy. And finding ways to survive, while we’re all far away. I’ve really enjoyed seeing your training videos Patty. You guys have been doing great work. And it’s fun to see familiar faces and see how you’re equipping churches. You guys are doing a great job. So thank you for doing that. And I just want to give you some encouragement this morning. I mean, everything feels crazy, right? We’re all in this strange season where we really don’t know what’s going on. And it’s, you’re probably like me and I’m a planner, I’m a leader, I’m a doer. I want to be able to fix things. And when I can’t make a plan, because I don’t have the answers, it’s really frustrating to me. And I think we’re all, in ministry, are in that kind of limbo of what in the world are we gonna do? Because we feel like it’s too early to make a definitive decision about summer when we don’t know what the next three weeks are gonna look like. But at the same time, we don’t want to get caught on our laurels and not be ready when everything opens back up again. And so I just want to encourage you by reminding you how important VBS is, particularly in this kind of a season when everybody is having to re-evaluate what’s really important. When we’re looking at the things that used to sustain us, that we used to be able to count on. We’ve got more people furloughed and lost jobs than we’ve ever experienced probably in our lifetimes. And people are looking at, you know, things I could count on, like sending their kids to school, being together on Sunday mornings, having a job to go to on Monday morning. And now without those safety nets, I think people are hungry for hope. They’re hungry for security. They’re hungry for the gospel, even if they haven’t been able to put it into those words yet. And VBS as the number one evangelistic tool of our churches becomes incredibly important in this season. Because it’s going to pass, it will be done. We will have life return to normal. And when it does, people are gonna be hungry for the hope of the gospel. And so, I just hope that you guys are not saying, if we’re gonna do VBS, but how are we going to do it? And so, that’s my number one takeaway is, I’m trying to help churches not panic. It’s just to say, you know what, let’s take a deep breath. Let’s think about it because our VBS people are so creative. And we want to be able to minister effectively to our communities in this crazy season. And so, we’ve got some great tools, we just need to figure out how to use them, right? So this week, in fact, you guys are right on the cutting edge, ’cause you’re getting to be the first ones to hear it. I’ma put it in the chat so everybody can see the link, lifeways.com/four ways is a great new site that we’ve put up just for this COVID-19 period, that’s going to help our churches figure out how they can do VBS in this crazy season. And we have identified four strategies in which VBS can still take place without having to go out and buy new things, or different sets of curriculum, or additional resources other than what you’ve already planned to buy for your churches’ VBS anyway. So we can take the things that we have and do them in four different ways. And I’m convinced that four is just the beginning. Because churches will be able to, once you get your brain going, you guys will be able to do it in hundreds of ways. And so, these are just four kind of buckets that we’ve identified that VBS could fall into this summer. So I will just walk through those very quickly. There’s an overview at this site lifeway.com/four ways. There’s also an ebook that details… Hey, Michael has got it. I love it. There it is, in print, not just on an iPad. Not just on a screen. But it has some specific helps to walk a church through each of these four ways. And if you’re not sure what VBS is gonna look like this year, I would encourage you to read the whole thing. If you’ve already said, I know exactly, we’re gonna, instead of doing this, we’re now going to go this direction with it, then I’d encourage you to go just to that section and figure out what things you need to be thinking about, how you need to be planning for that. There’s also an FAQ list on that site, which you can click on to expand and see the questions that have already been asked of us frequently. And as more questions come in, we’ll be updating that, so that will be a live document as well. And I’ll be sure to make sure Patty and others are aware of any changes that might come so that can get pushed out to you quickly as well. So let me walk through the four ways and then open up to questions. And feel free to hit me with whatever. I may not have an answer, but we’ll figure it out together. So the first of the four ways is a traditional VBS, just like we’re used to. Where it looks very much the same as last year with some minor modifications. We heard our president just rolled out a plan to work with our states over the coming weeks and months to allow us to come back from all of this in different phases. And so, depending on what phase we find ourselves in, come VBS time, the solution may be different. So the first thing I would encourage you is to keep planning for VBS like it’s going to happen. Go ahead and put a backup date as a plan B on your calendar, because VBS is not going to be the only summer ministry impacted by all of this. And so, every retreat, every mission trip, every student camp, everything is going to be impacted. And everybody’s gonna be vying for a date later in the summer to accomplish their programming or their ministry goals. And so, make sure you’re the first one. Sorry, no offense to my student ministry friends, but we need to beat them for once to the prime spot on the calendar, right? So we wanna make sure that we’ve got the the magic date as our backup plan. And then probably, my church is taking the approach of, we have our set up as the last week of July. That’s our backup. We’re usually the third week in June. And our pastor told us just this week, we’re about 10 days away from making that decision, whether we’re gonna stick with the June date or whether we’re gonna go ahead and pivot to the July date. And I think that’s probably about right. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll know when we need to pull the trigger and shift to a second date. So make sure you got that on the calendar. And then plan as if VBS is going to still happen, still be recruiting, still be training, still be getting materials to your leaders so that they can take advantage of the time that they have at home where priorities are a little bit different. So they can spend time planning. Because my guess is, by summer, when it’s time for VBS, the things that ordinarily we would have had two or three months to prepare for, we may have two or three weeks to prepare for in actuality. So I don’t want us to get caught off guard and wait until we’re in go mode in order to execute. So begin planning now, continue planning now, have that backup date in place. And then there are some things that we may need to consider, even if we’re able to do VBS at church, similar to what we’ve always done, we may have to think about smaller class sizes so that we can stay under, you know, the recommendations of our governors for how big a gathering should be. We may need to rethink our worship rally a little bit and how maybe we don’t do one, maybe we cycle them through. Most importantly, I think we’re going to need to think about cleanliness and disinfecting as a brand promise or a pledge to our parents in the community that they can trust us to be safe, to be clean, to be a safe option for their children. So we need to earn their trust back. It’s gonna be very important. So more could be said about that. But you guys know a traditional VBS, you do it well. And so, I still think that is a viable option for this summer. So number two, is if we have to meet in smaller groups, if we’re still under some restrictions, like no more than 50, or no more than 100 can be together, or we’re in a position where we are not sure VBS can take place in the same way at church, we may have to open up our minds a little bit and think outside of the scope of what is a traditional VBS. And move into what we’re calling an alternate VBS. And that’s a really broad term that encompasses a lot of things. It could be that it’s a completely different date or a format change. Like, for example, doing VBS as a back to school kickoff, the week before school returns. Or doing it over fall break or over Labor Day weekend. And so, taking what used to be a five-day, five consecutive days and turning it into a two-day, or three-day, or a one-day event. Those are all options. It might also be that we say, instead of five days in one week, we’re gonna stretch it out to five consecutive weeks. And so, we might do VBS over five Wednesday nights, once we’re all back to church and programming is continued. Or maybe we’re gonna do it over five Saturdays instead. This might also be, if we’re under some gathering restrictions at this point, we could also choose to do something kind of radical like splitting our attendance into smaller groups and saying preschoolers can come to VBS, from nine to noon. And then grade school kids are coming from one to three, one to four, whatever it ends up being, how many hours you want to do it. But leaving a window of time in between for us to disinfect and clean the facilities before the next group comes in. We might do it even differently and break it down to grades one through three come at this time, and grades four through six at this. Or family groups, last names A through M, can come at a certain time. And then N through Z are coming in the next block. And so, we would do the same kind of thing, but in a way that we rotate groups of children through in order to stay under those recommended gathering minimum. So lots, and lots, and lots of options there. It still is familiar to us in terms of the content, and the structure, and the formatting. It just may be a different schedule, or a different time of the year. So that’s an option as well. Our third strategy that we’ve identified is to do a neighborhood VBS. Now, in the book you’ll see that it’s not called Backyard Kids Club, because we have a whole line of curriculum that’s called Backyard Kids Club that’s designed to do a VBS experience in a backyard. And we didn’t want there to be any feeling like great, I’ve already bought all of this curriculum for my VBS. And now I’m gonna have to buy more stuff or I’m gonna have to return this. And go get this other line of curriculum. No, no, no, no, no. We can still take what we’ve done. And we can put it into a format that would work in a neighborhood, in a backyard, in a cul-de-sac, in an apartment complex, in the clubhouse of your homes community. So lots of options there as well. Taking the existing curriculum you would have bought for your church to do your VBS and doing it in a different format. So there are some things there, obviously, that help us restructure that and what that might look like. This is a great opportunity to still use the same people you’ve already enlisted. There are probably a lot of key leaders in your church who would be willing to serve as the host home or the host location. That doesn’t mean that you’re asking them to open up their home for kids to come in and be, you know, destroying their house, jumping on the furniture, hanging on the chandeliers. That just means that their yard, their cul-de-sac, they’re gonna be the point person. And host their community, their neighborhood well. And so, maybe that VBS goes from having one event, that’s one week at the church to have in five, 10, 15, 20 or more smaller VBSs that are happening all across your community. And that kind of gets me excited. Because we have an opportunity to not just say, our doors are open, y’all come to us. But we get to get outside the walls of the church and go to where people are. And we may have a broader, wider impact that way, which is really, really cool. I think also you get some great options for follow up, for relationship building that happened in that kind of setting that might not happen in some of the other strategies for VBS. So there’s some exciting things about that as well. This may also be one where you’re gonna have to be discerning a little bit and insensitive to how parents are feeling about VBS. Because my hope and kind of my gut reaction is people who’ve been stuck in the house for months with their children are going to be so ready for something to do outside of the home that our VBSs are going to be experiencing some record-breaking attendance this year. But I might be wrong. And it might be that there’s some parents in your church or parents in your community who feel a little bit leery about sending their kids somewhere else. That may be that they’re a little bit of, they’re still afraid of the lingering effects of the virus. They may have someone in their home who is high risk or who’s susceptible to infection, and so, they may be unwilling to send their kid to this gathering. And so, this becomes then a neighborhood VBS, becomes an opportunity where we can pivot to meet the needs of wherever our people are, rather than forcing parents into having to send their kid or feeling guilty about not wanting to. A neighborhood solution might be an ideal one because it’s a smaller group, they’re close by. They can handle that, you know, there’s not as many germs coming at them. And so, that might be a great option. The fourth one, fourth option for us is what we’re calling VBS at home. I’ve seen a lot on social media, of people toying with the idea of what would a virtual VBS look like. And I love the creativity there, of people trying to figure out how we’re gonna do what we’ve done already. But I’m a little concerned just a little bit that some hitches in my giddy up, if you will, about a virtual VBS because it robs us of one of the greatest assets that we have in terms of sharing the gospel with boys and girls, and with students, and with their families, is it separates us relationally, and we don’t get to have that face-to-face interaction. And so, I’m a little leery to jump to that as my first plan B. Oh, that’s probably my fourth plan B, my plan D, if you will. So that, it can totally happen. It’s a great idea. There are some things to think through. But I tend to personally go toward the ones that still allow a lot of relational connection. But a lot of churches have been doing this type of format really well during this crazy time of distancing. So churches are having Zoom sessions, they’re live streaming their worships, they’re having times to have Bible study together. And so, this definitely can happen. And so, the ebook has some strategy there for that as well. Or we would encourage churches to do some sort of live stream worship rally or a pre-recorded worship rally, which they would then post on their website or their social media channels. Pretty much the same way we’ve been doing worship over the last few weeks. Doing a live worship rally that then gets posted online somewhere. So that families can tune in and they’re still getting to see your pastor, your children’s minister, your VBS director, your Motions team is leading the music. You’re still able to use the videos, and the dramas, the skits, all of that still can be part of that experience you would do. Worship rally pretty much like you would do it live. It’s just now being recorded and pushed out to families. And then we would utilize some sort of home delivery method. Whether that’s using the mail, whether it’s a porch pack that gets delivered to each of the homes or whether that’s we’ve got things set up in the drive-through on the church campus. And families are encouraged to come and pick up a pack, to take home to do VBS at home. So this strategy would rely heavily on parents and equipping parents to do Bible study and rotations and things like that in the home. It’s a great opportunity for your leaders to be able to still pour into making it happen because, for example, your snack leader is not responsible just for choosing the snacks and prepping them to be eaten at your VBS at church. But now all of a sudden, they’re thinking through how could we do pre-packaged or individually packaged snacks that we could then deliver to the home. Your craft leaders might be thinking, okay, we’re not gonna do five days of crafts, maybe we’ll only do three days. And we’re gonna assemble all of the pieces in order to make an individual craft pack for each child and deliver that to the home. And so, teachers that you’ve already enlisted become very important in executing out really all of these strategies. But in this one, the benefit, it feels like to me a lot of teachers would have to do a lot of prep, but never get to enjoy the payoff of being with kids, and getting to see them do it, and being part of that teaching process as they make a craft or as they play a game. And so, where there’s this handoff there, the trade off is we’re handing off a lot of the joy that we get in leading VBS to the parents. And that may be a great thing because parents may really want that and embrace that. And I know they would do a great job of it. But I’m afraid that some of our volunteers might go, “Now, wait a minute, you just took all the fun stuff out for me. So anyway, those are four options. I think they’re all good options. I think they’re all valid. There are things to think through on all four of those. But again, we’ve got this great ebook that helps us think through each of these strategies and how we can help our leaders kind of get into the right mindset to do VBS well. So, any questions about that? I’m looking through, I see lots of things in the chat. Is there any questions? I agree, David, that it would be cool that the silver lining in that could be that some would come out of it with a greater understanding of their role, parents would. Their understanding of being able to take on that role of the spiritual leader in their household. That would be awesome. A drive in VBS, that’s awesome. Doing worship rally and Bible story out for a drive in and then doing the packs and things at home. I think that’s a great idea. See, I knew it. I said there were four but there are really 40,000 ways to do this.

Patty Burns

I also wanna throw out, Melita, that as much as I would love to think that everybody in the Whole world uses LifeWay VBS, I know they don’t. And most of you that are in this meeting, you may all use it or you may not. But to pass along that this ebook is not just about how to do concrete and cranked. But this is about just how to make sure VBS happens in your church with some great ideas. I’ve already read it all the way through. And I’ve been taking my notes. And so, if you have friends who are like, “Well, I’m not gonna join that meeting because we don’t do LifeWay VBS,” please, still pass them on to this. Because it’s great information about, like Melita said, it’s not a matter of if we’re gonna do Vacation Bible School, but it’s when and how we’re gonna make it happen.

One of my comments is, one of my thoughts is, and Melita, you might chime in here, Michael, you might chime in, anybody, as I look at this screen, I see churches of all sizes. And VBS has never been one size fits all. But what are you guys thinking? I mean, a church of over 500 that come to Bible school doesn’t look like a church that has 50 that comes to Bible School. So, thoughts about that? What are you thinking along those lines of how you can do it according to your size?

Glen Leathers

Yeah, I was just gonna say, according to your church size, whatever it is, you know, one of the things we’re probably gonna do is, our church is adapt. Change our date. Just because Vacation Bible School is such a huge thing here First Baptist, Montgomery, we are probably gonna choose to have an alternative date. And that date will probably be the last of July. And the reason being is because our kids camp takes place two weeks before, etc. So that’s an option, I think a lot of people have. It’s just to postpone it as long as you can. Because otherwise, we’re having it the second week of June and that’s not gonna happen pretty much. So that’s what we’re looking at doing as a staff.

Patty Burns

I know that with a smaller number to, you know, that come to your Bible school to be able to do smaller groups. You know, if you have 50 kids, it’s a lot easier to put them in, you know, five groups of 10 than it is if you have 500. So, you know, just those thoughts. And it might be that some of you that are with churches that have really large VBSs that you may wanna get together and have some conversations about what these four ideas and even more might look like for you guys. So, I saw a hand.

Vanessa Maulden

Vanessa from Zion Chapel Baptist Church in Elba. We generally have about, our Bible school’s the first week of June. So I’m really concerned about ours. And we have not met to make any alternative plans yet. But we generally only have around 20 or 25 kids at church on a normal Sunday. But during Vacation Bible School, we will have between 75 and 100. And most of our classes have to have between, just say 12 and 20 kids. So I’m thinking that we may be one of the ones that has to split our group and go maybe two year olds to kindergartners, you know, one week and then there are older kids another week so that we can, and have to split our kids into two classes versus the one class that we normally have. So, I don’t know, it’s gonna be different. It’s gonna be a whole lot different this year.

Melita Thomas

I think those are great options. And you’re right, it’s gonna feel very different. But I’m kind of excited about that. Like, there’s just a little bit kind of niggling in the back of my mind here about, boy, this is an opportunity to try something that I might not have had permission to do. I wouldn’t have given myself permission or that my team wouldn’t have given me permission to try something different because we already know this is how we do VBS. This is what it looks like and this is what we’re used to. And why would you change it? It works. And this is an opportunity to try something a little different and see does this work well? Is that something that we just are gonna do ’cause we have to this year? Or really this helps us, you know, accomplish a bigger goal in a way that we didn’t realize we were capable of doing before. So, who knows? It could be a lot of fun.

Patty Burns

Yeah. And Wendy just put on a chat. You know, deciding to have a preschool one week and a children’s the other, how will that affect your families that have a preschooler and a grade schooler. You know, it’s something to think about. Some of it, it may not matter at all. But, you know, just another thought in there.

Melita Thomas

And for a lot who have their preschoolers may be restricted to workers kids. That might actually be, we’re gonna do VBS for your children while we give you a prep week. And then you’re teaching but they’ll, of course, still have to figure out what to do with their kids then that week two. Things to think through.

Belinda Stroud

Another idea we heard yesterday was to offer classes and put children at the same families together so that they could be there at the same time and also would be in the same room. With the social distancing, you wouldn’t have to worry so much about that. So that’s another option.

Beth

With ours, what we did, I’m looking at changing the date. Ours is the first week in June. I’ve already told our pastor we will have VBS. I don’t know what it looks like, but we will have VBS. But I’m liking the alternative where we do the smaller groups. We have 600 kids, and so, we’ve got to look at over 600 people. I’m really liking the, doing it maybe by families where we have 8:00 through, whatever in the morning and then the other in the afternoon. The thing that I’m trying to figure out is what do I do about my workers’ children that would need to be there also? If anybody has got any comments on that, but we are in VBS. I’m at Mount Zion in Huntsville.

Julie Donavon

Hey, you all, I’m Julie at Baptist Church. This is Robert, sorry. And somehow I mentioned this in the comments, for example, what if we don’t get June? What if at June we’re still stuck in our homes and people are going on vacation or visiting friends and family? And we’re like, “Oh, we wanna have camp and we wanna have VBS, and we wanna do all these other things.” You know, have the fourth of July or whatever it might be. And, you know, what are your thoughts on that? ‘Cause for me, I’m like, okay, I’m thinking let’s do one big thing at our church that’s kind of where my mindset is going. I love camp. I love VBS, but VBS is our biggest community outreach. So that’s where I’m leaning towards. ‘Cause also, for camp, camp is expensive. And a lot of our families won’t be able to afford it because they’ve lost their jobs. So VBS is the best avenue for that. So I would love to hear your thoughts about how you’ve been praying through that, how you’ve been thinking about that. We’re all kind of at this state too.

Lisa

So when I was talking to our family pastor this morning, and one of the concerns that they have is that we have a lot of senior adults that usually help with Vacation Bible School because we have it in the daytime. And a lot of them are very leery so it’s, we’re not really thinking about the, you know. I mean, we’ve wondering like Melita said about if parents are gonna be ready to send their kids or not. But we have a lot of senior adults that are very leery. I think, a great idea that they’ve had is that we have a music camp every year that’s really popular. But they’re thinking about combining those two ’cause the music camp is in July. And they’re thinking of combining VBS and doing that in the morning. And then do music camp in the afternoon but doing it like mid to late July. And making that just a big day camp. And I’ma suggest that it also move while the kids don’t, You know, like what you’ve done in the past Patty is having tracks and I think a Lego camp would be really fun. Like, if kids didn’t wanna do a camp, they could choose Lego camp. Or they could choose, you know, sports camp or cooking, you know, whatever. Anyway, they could do tracks in the afternoon. If there’s already some other thing just combining things you’re already doing but just add VBS to it and make it a bigger event later in the summer.

Marie

I just wanna know, and we touched on this in the previous Zoom, when we go back into our church buildings for VBS and for regular, what new ways are we going to have to handle our materials and our facilities, and are we going to be able to continue to touch? Those are some of the things I’m wondering about. Has anybody else thought about that? Or will we be able to go back and be able to touch again?

Jack Anderson

Yes ma’am. Alabama Crenshaw Baptist Association in Crenshaw County. And the last lady just hit on part of what I was thinking about with the distancing and so forth. And from state to state where right now we’re dealing with Alabama. But Vacation Bible School, of course, is international. We don’t know just how restricted we’re going to be and social distancing, that sort of thing really becomes an issue with preschoolers. In this part of the country, in South Alabama, we’re huggers, we’re touchers, we’re tactile people. And it’s hard to say to a two-year-old, a three-year-old, “No sweetie, you’ve got to move away. You can’t come over here, you can’t be in this area, you can’t touch this child and so forth.” And I can’t give you a hug, that kind of thing. And we don’t know how restrictive the government is going to be honest in this. Of course, our first priority is keep the children safe, keep our workers safe, and ourselves as well. But that’s a concern that I have had is how does this new world going to look like. And I’m sure there are no answers yet. But it’s something that we need to take into consideration. With the older groups year third through sixth grade, they’re about, you won’t have as much problem with it because they are hearing social distancing constantly. But I’m just concerned about what a close, all caring situation is going to look like when we’re trying to lose with restrictions.

Patty Burns

Right, thank you. Definitely, I mean, you all have just got… My head’s blowing up with all these things that I thought, man, I really thought of a lot of things. And now I’m thinking of all these other things that you’re bringing up. And I wish that in this time, we could just answer all of them and come up with some really great ideas. But I hope you’re taking notes. And these are some things that you’re gonna be praying about. And that we can come back together maybe again and talk through some more of this when we have some more definite plans that are happening. But I see that I have Audrey has her hand up. Audrey.

Audrey Krier

I have a question about, you know, I think I can take care of my regular kids and do what I need to do for VBS for them. But, you know, we’re always hoping that we have lots of kids that are not our kids. Any thoughts on how to go about promoting, you know, maybe some strategies. And that may be something that we have to put into the next meeting or whatever. But just promotion strategies in this climate, you know. ‘Cause you can’t do a lot of things that we usually do to reach some of those kids that are not regular kids.

Melita Thomas

I think it’s gonna depend on the strategy that you choose to implement. We know that we’re going to need help with things like Kid Event Pro, you know, using pre-registration, online registration becomes really important this year, in order to know exactly who to expect so that we can plan with whatever strategy we’re doing. Whether we’re gonna have to break up class sizes, you know, or we’re gonna have to deliver to the home. We need to know exactly who’s coming. So we do know that’s gonna be an important part of it and communicating that link. I love the idea that Gregory said, of using neighborhood Facebook groups. or using our social media that helps us kind of collect data on this one neighborhood. Using that to promote because that becomes a more relational kind of an invite.

Or you can have a conversation if you’re doing a neighborhood VBS. I was with some folks in Oklahoma yesterday and Mr. Marks classroom is saying his church is going to kind of do a hybrid approach. And they’re going to do neighborhood VBSs but still include some kind of a virtual element. Like, they may broadcast their worship rally to each of these neighborhood sites. And his idea for promotion was to kind of do like an ice cream truck. He would be driving through the neighborhoods with the speaker and communicating information, its’ taking place here about VBS. And for that setting, you choose people to host a neighborhood VBS who already are people who know their neighbors, who have a relationship with the people on their block or on their street. And so, you harness the power of that relationship in order to help invite. So I think a lot of it, a lot of the same strategies for getting the word out still work. We know that still, from a research standpoint, the number one way to get someone to come is through a personal invitation. And so, I think that still works. It’s just then the trickiness of how do we communicate beyond that. And this may be a year where we set some some specific goals about who we wanna target and how many realistically we can handle. And just give it over to the Lord and say, “This year, this is what we’re able to do. And God, you’re gonna have to fill in the gaps for us. Because this is all I’m able to do with what we have this year.” And that’s okay.

Cindy Thomas

– Good morning. I wanted to talk a little bit about training. I know most of us had planned training for our associations and it got canceled because that’s when people could not assemble together anymore. So our association scheduled each person on the team that could to come in and videotape 10 to 15 minutes training for their area. And we all finished that by April 15th. So this past Wednesday, and we’re posting it on our SABA website, S-A-B-A, Southeast Alabama Baptist Association website. I think Monday or Tuesday, and then I think we’ll send it to you also. So if you wanted to put it on that Facebook page for Alabama Baptists, you know, you can pick what you want. But, so we’re going to do a Facebook Live, possibly Tuesday of this week, maybe Wednesday. And John is gonna get up as the director of missions. He prefers mission strategist as his title, but at any rate… And we had things that each conference leader was gonna give away and some things at the association office that was Vacation Bible School giveaways. And so, during the Facebook Live event, he’s going to have that if you were the first five that text me or if you’re the first 10 that respond in this chat, or however that will work, we’ll be doing giveaways of Vacation Bible School product and things that we were going to use during our conference time to give to the conferees who came. And so, we wanna generate some excitement along with our training. Because we know trained leaders will do a much better job and reach more children and their heart will be in it than untrained leaders. And I hate to just see that the training just didn’t happen in 2020.

Patty Burns

Right, right. And I did get those videos from John and we will be putting those up on the VBS Alabama trips and training page and other great resources. I’ve already watched them and you’re all gonna wanna take a look at those as well. So thank you, Cindy and John for doing that. Jim Fiscus, I’m afraid to unmute you.

Jim Fiscus

It’s always a good idea. It’s always a good idea not to unmute me But as I was listening to everyone, I was thinking about our own church kids and I know some people have mentioned this in the comments. And so as we are preparing which way we’re gonna go with this, whether it’s through neighborhood or full church VBS, or whatever it is, let’s keep in mind the unchurched and how virtual VBS might affect them. Now, with our church we, of course, we do a lot of virtual stuff. We were doing it before this happened, and then this happened and things just grew exponentially. We have tons more views on all of our Facebook stuff. We do daily devotions and have tons of views on there. And so, there is a possibility and I believe we are now reaching folks that we normally would not have reached. And so, in virtual VBS, that is a possibility. But then it also is a possibility that you’re not gonna reach those kids that you might reach with a van going out in the neighborhood, or things like that. So whatever you’re choosing to do with your VBS. And the idea that we are looking strongly at doing is doing a Wednesday night series through the summer. But regardless, what you’re doing with the VBS, keep in mind, the unchurched kids and how we’re gonna reach them because that’s really what, I think, the heart of VBS is, is those unchurched kids.

Patty Burns

Thank you very much. Another part of our team today is Michael Gentry. And I wanna make sure Michael can get in there and talk to us a little bit about, give us greetings and anything that you would have to say that might help us out with VBS. Michael, you’re out there?

Michael Gentry

It’s good to see everybody. This has been a great session today. Melita, thank you for joining us and answering a lot of questions that people had. I just put something in chat about three opportunities to buy LifeWay curriculum. If you’re looking, lifeway.com, through the Association of VBS incentive plan. And correct me if I’m wrong, Melita, but has that deadline been extended through July the 15th? Is that correct?

– Yes, so you can purchase through your association if they’re participating in the incentive plan through July the 15th. And then the other one is through authorized dealers that we are using. In Alabama, we have 22 independent Christian bookstores that can order VBS curriculum. I put the link on the chat there if you wanna check that out, to see which stores in Alabama can participate in that. So those are three opportunities that we have to purchase LifeWay curriculum. And the deadline for returning curriculum has also been extended as well. I think that’s through the end of October. Is that correct, Melita? Yeah. October 1st. Okay, good, thank you. But any questions that myself or Rick West, who’s our South Alabama church partner can do to help you guys come alongside you anyway, we are willing to do that. So please feel free to contact us and let us help you in any way that we possibly can answer any questions. But really thank you for this time today. This has been great. I appreciate everybody.

Patty Burns

It’s been awesome. And I thank all of you so much. The chat is just blowing up. So I hope you guys have had a chance to look at those. And Melita, my sweet friend, I hope you’ve been writing some of those things down so we can come back and revisit those. Melita, one thing that I have heard questions about and you can maybe address this some, is, I think I read it somewhere where you were talking about if you got the regular kit without the digital pass. And then there’s been some questions about using music. Could you just talk about that a second before we say goodbye?

Melita Thomas

Absolutely. Yeah, those are both great questions. In order to use music for this virtual or this at home VBS or whatever iteration it comes from, our friends at LifeWay Worship grant us a free permission during this pandemic period to be able to use any of the VBS songs, that’s preschool and children to use that as part of a virtual worship rally. So if you are conducting one and you’ve got the lyrics on the screen, or you’ve got your your team that’s up there doing the motions with the music. As long as you’re using that as part of a virtual worship rally, you have full permission to use that. There are just two things that you have to do. And one of those is you need to make sure that your CCLI license is up to date. And that it covers streaming, is a streaming license. There are some different tiers. And you may not know what your license is, that’s okay. I guarantee there’s somebody at church who does. It might be your worship pastor, or the student minister, or whoever usually handles putting the lyrics on the screen, or who at your tech team, whoever’s handling the live streaming of your worship service is gonna know. And chances are if you have been live streaming your worship before the pandemic, you’re probably already covered. Because that’s something that applies to anybody who is streaming. So a streaming license from CCLI and also you need to report the use of those VBS songs when you next report, make your report to CCLI. And the lifeway.com/four ways website, that’s one of the FAQ. So there are direct links there to help you go straight to CCLI and record that. And links to help you know how to report. And so, all that is in there. And then the other one is the digital add-on. This year, for the first time ever, we offer the preschool starter kit. And the children’s starter kit, the kids starter kit with an option for you to add on for $30, to add on a digital access piece. So you still got the box. But then you also had access to all the leader guides that were in there digitally. We realize now people may have been kicking themselves because they wish they had gotten the digital access and didn’t. So for the exact same price, that same $30 add-on you, the only way to get it is to call customer service. So you can call customer service and ask for the starter kit add-on for preschool or for children. And they’ll give you that redemption code. So super easy and that’s also part of the FAQs as well.

Oh, let me say too, because the multi-age resources this year, you know, what’s in the starter kit is closely graded. Babies through twos, threes to pre-k, kindergarten, grades one and two. But then there’s the multi-age preschool and the multi-age kids. And that’s not in the starter kit, but there is a digital version of that. It’s the same price as just purchasing an extra leader guide. So I think that’s what, 499, something like that. And so, there is a link also in the FAQs for you to purchase a digital leader guide for multi-age kids and multi-age preschool. And then you have the same same thing. So, could send those-very easily through email to all of your leaders and let them go ahead and have their materials to prepare.

Patty Burns

Super, super, thank you for that. Theresa Mayo, earlier, you had your hand up. And I didn’t get to you.

Theresa Mayo

I was just gonna talk about the question about camp and VBS and everything. And in going back to what we’re doing right now, when we first began trying to help everyone in our families, we were offering so much stuff, throwing so much out there. And they were just so overwhelmed. So now we’ve gotten to the point where we’re just focusing on Sunday and every day. Like you said, and others said, we’re offering something to reiterate or reinforce that lesson from Sunday. So we’re focusing on one thing and giving parents a chance to win at that one thing. And I think we’re gonna continue to do that through the summer. We could try to make up for everything we’ve missed, make up for everything we’re gonna miss in June. And just keep throwing things at them. But the world’s gonna keep throwing things at them too. So we wanna do one thing really, really well and give it all we’ve got. And focus on, you know, just leading them to Jesus in that. So you know, camp is probably on the wayside for us and we’re gonna focus on vacation Bible School and doing that to the best and getting as many ways, you know, maybe we’re gonna be doing that two or three different ways, where you’re going to be doing it in the neighborhoods and often one at church too. Or, you know, I don’t know how we’re gonna do it. But that’s gonna be our focus and not worrying about trying to do everything like a typical summer because it’s just not a typical summer anymore.

Patty Burns

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you, thank you. Before we head out of here, something we didn’t touch on, but it is gonna be so important to use could have it pro or some sort of online registration. ‘Cause guys, we’re gonna have guests, we always do. And we can’t forget follow up. How are we gonna be able to get in touch with these, that whether they’re virtual or whether they’re neighborhood. So let’s remember to get good information, so we can follow up with these kids as they come to whatever kind of Vacation Bible School we have. Especially, if we’re gonna have multiple, if we’re gonna be in different neighborhoods, let’s just make sure that we get that information out there as well. You guys are awesome. I think we had about 70 to 75, something like that, that joined in this conversation. I would love to do it again. You’re busy people, so I, you know, I don’t wanna overload you. But if it’s something you’d like to do, text me, Facebook message me, email me. Let me know your thoughts about that. So, as we wrap it up here at 12:01, Mr. Michael Gentry, I would love it if you would close us in prayer.

Michael Gentry

Oh, God, thank you so much for being the awesome guy that you are. Thank you for providing opportunities like this to have a meeting where we can share ideas and just hear from our VBS specialists at LifeWay. We thank you for opportunities that you give us, Father, to spread the gospel and to help kids, and parents, and families know how they can have a relationship with you. And Father, we just pray that you would just prepare the way for VBS to happen in some just tremendous ways this summer. Father we know these are uncertain times, but we do know that you are in control, that you are sovereign and that you have a plan. And we pray that you would just help us father, to respond in a way that would just be a part of what you want to happen as a result of these uncertain days that we find ourselves in. So we just yield ourselves Father, to your will and your plan. And just pray that you’ll make things work as well as possible so that we can share the gospel with kids and disciple kids through Vacation Bible School. And reach parents and families as well. So help us Father, give us insight and wisdom beyond our years just to know exactly how we need to move forward in these days. And we just wanna thank you and praise you for all that you’re gonna do in the days to come. For it’s in Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Patty Burns

Amen, thank you, Michael. You guys, stay well, stay safe. And we will see you and talk later. Bye, guys.

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